Right from the beginning, hog hunting in this country has been a Southern thing. In fact, before the U.S. was even a country, feral hogs got a cloven foothold. Way back in 1539, when Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto and his army landed at present-day Tampa Bay, Fla., they brought with them a herd of hogs some estimate as high as 300.
Trekking from there to Mississippi, DeSoto and his army used the pigs for provisions, but some were traded to native people, while others escaped.
In the centuries since, more hogs were added to the mix, and today the prolific feral hog is found in an estimated 45 states. But it is in the South that the wild hog has been most frequently hunted. It’s there that it’s so popular and such a part of daily life—so much so that the wild hog is a Southern cultural icon.
From the fierce Razorback that adorns sports team at the University of Arkansas, to the many hog festivals dotted across the Southeast and Texas, southerners have got hog on the brain. The newest sign of Southern hog culture is the advent of the hog hunting contest—held with use of dogs, guns or bows and quickly becoming a favorite in Texas and other places that have been overridden with hogs. Any way you draw it up, hog hunting is a staple of Southern life.
- It’s early April in East Texas, and that means only one thing—it’s time for the Wild Hog Roundup. Hosted by Wulf Outdoors Sports, a retail outlet in Center and Athens, Texas, the Roundup is a week’s worth of hog hunting with guns and dogs, plus a big dose of hog trapping. At stake is a whopping $28,000 in cash prizes, including a $5,000 award for taking the heaviest hog in Shelby County.
The Roundup was started to help get the word out that exploding feral hog populations have become a significant problem in Texas. The destructive hogs root up pasturelands and agricultural fields, compete with native wildlife for forage and can spread diseases to livestock.
Now in its third year, the Roundup has been a huge success. Hunters and trappers have answered the call and killed over 700 hogs last year alone. The prize money doesn’t hurt, either!
“Folks here in East Texas live and breathe the outdoors and hunting,” says Virginia Solgot, Wulf’s marketing manager. “Hog hunting’s always been a part of life here, but it’s become even more popular as we’ve seen these hog numbers increase so dramatically.”