Rip Ford, in his book, ‘Rip Ford’s Texas,’ related an account of a court case he was once involved in. The plaintiff was suing someone for killing some goats, and he wanted compensation for all the future goats that would have been born if those hadn’t been killed.The quantity of goat progeny predicted by the plaintiff was somewhat astronomical, and since Ford was representing the defendant, he commented to the judge that if all the goats in Texas were as prolific as those belonging to the plaintiff, considering the number of goats estimated to live in the state at the time, Texas would ‘soon be unable to hold her goats.’I can’t remember if Rip won that case or not, as it’s been a good fifteen years since I read the book, but it seems to me we have reached the point in Texas Rip was worried about, not with goats, but with hogs. There are an estimated 2.6 million wild feral hogs in Texas now, and they breed like pigs, so tomorrow that figure will probably be obsolete. To put that into some kind of perspective, there are about 5 million feral hogs in the U.S., so we’ve got over half of them right here in the Lone Star State.Now, hogs are pretty impressive, as you know if you’ve ever been acquainted with any porcines. They make great pets, they’re smarter than most dogs, and they can even be house trained. Hogs are wonderful animals, and I have a high degree of admiration for them as a species. But there is a limit, and I think we passed it about a million hogs ago.The problem is the damage these wild hogs are doing to crops and farms, which is estimated at about $52 million per year. And that doesn’t even take into account the toll on native game animals. Hogs are detrimental to deer, turkeys, and sea turtles, and probably other species such as quail. And if you think hitting a 75-pound deer will tear up a car, try running into a 200-pound sow. Wear your seat belt.Hogs are getting to be such a nuisance that our lawmakers, in a fit of common sense, recenlty passed a law that not only might help with the overpopulation of pigs, but should give a boost to some private aviation services, to boot. And if that weren’t enough, it looks like the new law will provide a lot of fun to hunters.Effective September first, it is legal to fly around in a helicopter and shoot hogs with a semi-automatic rifle in Texas. And you thought freedom was a thing of the past in America.This bill, which Governor Rick ‘Coyotes Need Killing’ Perry recently signed into law, is known as the Pork Chopper bill. I thought that was funny. Just saying.Companies such as Vertex Helicopters of Houston are booking ‘hunts’ for people who want to fly around and shoot at hogs from the air. Mike Morgan, a former army helicopter pilot and head pilot at Vertex, says folks have been calling from all over the country to book hunts, even from Alaska. How about that.There are complaints, of course. There are always people who think the hogs should be relocated, although to date none of these relocation advocates has expressed a desire to have the hogs turned loose on his or her property. It seems there is a limit to humanitarianism, especially when it comes to huge, drooling, muddy, stinky beasts with long tusks and poor attitudes. Go figure.Other objections have come from people who trap hogs and sell them for their meat, which seems a more legitimate concern. But with about a million more hogs than we can say grace over as it is, and considering the devastation the hogs are visiting on farmers and ranchers, the ‘waste not, want not’ crowd is unlikely to make much headway.Besides, according to a video my friend Patrick Wentworth sent me, trapping hogs is not as easy as, say, trapping mice. Which is not a snap, itself. (I apologize for that one)Billy Higginbotham, a Texas wildlife biologist, spends a good deal of time trapping hogs, or at least trying. If you care to look up Billy’s YouTube video, entitled ‘Are You Smarter than a Swine?,’ you will see videos of pigs, taken with infrared cameras, avoiding tripwires, in total darkness, that they don’t even know are tripwires. Hogs are hard to catch.But the main complaint I have about people shooting hogs from helicopters with AR-15s is that, to date, no one has invited me to do it. This is unacceptable. I even have my own AR, a Smith & Wesson M&P-15. And I’d be happy to provide my own ammunition, ear muffs, and seatbelt. I’ll even fly the helicopter, if necessary.Texas is the only place in the world right now where this is legal, and I see no reason not to take advantage of it. Besides, anyone who shoots a hog in Texas is doing us all a favor. If we don’t deal with this situation quickly, before long Texas will be unable to hold her hogs.Now if we can just get Rick to sign a bill making it legal to fly around and shoot paintballs at lawyers, we’ll have it made . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who has never shot a lawyer with a paintball gun. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org