Texas Hog Helicopter Hunts Coming Sept. 1

Texas Hog Helicopter Hunts Coming Sept. 1
Texas Hog Helicopter Hunts Coming Sept. 1

Want to pretend you're a South African professional hunter but don't have an extra five figures lying around? As of Sept. 1, you can get close in Texas. You can lean a rifle out the window of a ground-buzzing helicopter and blast ... feral hogs.

That's right. The mortal enemy of ranchers, farmers and other Texas landowners -- to the tune of more than $400 million annually in crop and other damage -- will soon be open to helicopter hunting by licensed hunters.

Coyotes too, but feral hogs are by far the greater threat. They bust fences, sour water holes, uproot crops, cripple cattle and generally don't do a darn thing positive except taste good.

Since 2005 the demand for blasting hogs has more than doubled while the number of coyotes landowners have asked the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) for permission to kill (coyotes can also be killed by helicopter) has stayed pretty constant.


Texas hogs, all 2 million, are classified as a non-game, nuisance species, meaning they can be "taken by any means or methods at any time of year," states the Texas Department of Wildlife and Parks. No bag limits, but you need a hunting license.


So far that has meant shooting them from the ground, a treestand or the highest you could get was a tower stand. Now you can get higher and faster in a helicopter, provided you have the $300 to $600 per hour (with a multi-hour minimum) it costs to rent a whirlybird.


Even if many Texans could afford it, this doesn't mean you'll see hunters whizzing all over the state, looking for hogs. First are the facts that there aren't that many helos around, and it's probably a safe bet to assume helicopter operators aren't too psyched to allow anyone and everyone in their machines with loaded weapons: Jay Smith, a pilot and owner of Smith Helicopters, told The New York Times, "What we have to watch out for is the people that get in the helicopter with us and the way they handle the guns."

Also, helicopter hunting favors the open country of south Texas, where the animals are more visible and helicopter pilots can get their machines closer to the ground.

And since you're moving and so is the animal, it probably won't be easy to hit those critters. One fact might support this: TPWD data shows that it received more than 2 million requests to shoot hogs by helicopter since 2004, but less than 70,000 were taken.


On the other hand, The Dallas Morning News reported that "a good shot on infested land can sometimes hit 350 feral hogs in a day" -- that word "hit" being the reason animal rightists opposed the bill.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, also feels that helicopter hunting is all about the numbers. "We‚re not trying to make a sport of it," he told the paper. "It's the most effective way. It's about the only measure we have."

Texas' feral hogs are a mix of European domestic hogs introduced by Spanish explorers 300 years ago, European wild hogs (also known as Russian boars) released in Texas by ranchers and hunters starting in the 1930s and escaped domestic stock.


The pests also occupy the same range as whitetails, and some people are worried about that -- particularly since the state's drought is making the exploding Texas hog population more aggressive. A Blanco County man was attacked by a feral hog in mid-July and more than 100 stitches were needed to close the wound.

And then there's the fact that Texas' hog problem is spreading outside its borders. For example, they're now in every New Mexico county that borders Texas, and are rooting around as far west as the Rio Grande.

Recommended for You

Records

State Records Reported in Maryland, Michigan

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere.

Field Tested: Lightweight Raingear

David Draper - May 30, 2019

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

MLF BPT angler and former Classic champ Casey Ashley has been with Costa del Mar sunglasses his whole career. At ICAST 2019, he shows OSG writer Lynn Burkhead some new products and talks how to pick the right lens color for the water.

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance's Lucas Steward shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead what all of the fuss is about in the brand new Ghost trolling motor being brought to market by the Tulsa, Okla.-based fishing equipment manufacturer.

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Bass

7 Best Bets For New Jersey Largemouth Bass

October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll...

Catfish

12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.

Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest. Although...

See More Stories

More Stories

Stories

Grandpa's Gun Tags Giant Buck, Ends Multi-Year Quest

Lynn Burkhead - November 21, 2017

Missouri hunter Tim Phillips is all smiles after using his late grandfather's worn Marlin...

Stories

Coyote Calling Tips for Hunting at Close Range

Tim Lilley - January 09, 2014

Brian Meyer likes to have coyotes within 20 yards! He uses an SKB shotgun for his coyote...

Stories

Behind the Badge: A Warden's First Night-Poaching Bust

Game & Fish Online Staff - July 30, 2018

Behind the Badge is a regular series of perspective stories by Oklahoma game warden Carlos...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×