Hunters get chance to bag wild hogs around Lavon Lakehttp://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent ... 2ce9a.html
11:33 PM CST on Saturday, January 9, 2010
By ED HOUSEWRIGHT / The Dallas Morning News email@example.com
Feral hogs are big, ornery and destructive. They multiply like rabbits and number in the thousands around Lavon Lake in rural Collin County.
Federal officials, fed up with the burly beasts, are offering hunters a rare no-holds-barred opportunity to kill as many as they'd like.
"The more, the merrier," said Heath McLane, lake manager for the Army Corps of Engineers.
Hunters who live within 50 miles of Lavon Lake have until Friday to enter the corps' hog hunt lottery. Forty-four winners will be announced Jan. 19, and the hunt will take place from February through April.
The corps, which usually restricts hog hunters to bows and arrows, will allow shotguns and traps this time. More than 200 people have applied.
Firepower is important, as feral hogs can be waist-high and weigh as much as an NFL lineman.
"They're quite an adversary," McLane said. "They're hard to hunt. They have a keen sense of smell and keen hearing."
And they're fast.
"They will baffle you with their speed," McLane said. "They're a lot faster than you would think."
Feral hogs have proliferated across Texas and many other states in part because they have no natural predators, he said.
They're despised because they tear up property as they root around for worms, insects, acorns and other food. They take food sought by more desirable animals.
"They eat about anything a deer would," McLane said.
The Internet has scores of sites devoted to hog hunting. Interest has grown as the hog population has soared.
Hoghuntinghogs.com proclaims that "Texas is overrun with hogs."
"Despite the popularity of hunting and trapping wild boar, the population explosion is now a runaway train on a steep downhill grade."
Hogs are nocturnal and often are pursued at night. Hunters can use special lights that illuminate an area without being so bright that they scare off the animals.
"Designed specifically to be mounted on camera tripods!" boasts one brand. "Can be stacked one on top of the other so one tripod can handle multiple lights to illuminate open fields!"
Hogs also can be captured in cagelike traps using food as bait. Lavon Lake officials will allow traps during the three-month hunt, but hunters must soak the corn in diesel fuel. That way, other animals won't eat it. Wild hogs seem to prefer the tainted food, McLane said.
"It's really odd," he said.
Feral hogs can be tough to kill, but they rarely pose a danger to people. Legends of maniacal hogs attacking people are unfounded, McLane said.
"About 99.9 percent of the time, they'll try to run away from you," he said.