Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring Is Coming.

Wild hogs, wild turkey or shed antler hunting? Just when you thought you were going to get a break and catch up on some work around home you discover it's just starting all over again. For many outdoor enthusiast, the spring thaw is the beginning of another year of outdoor adventures. A time to renew old friendships and make new ones. Just as the weather begins to warm up for the first time in months everyone begins to get the spring fever and wants to get outdoors for the fresh air and a little relaxing time away from all the work. It doesn't matter whether your hunting shed antlers, watching birds, checking your fields or just going for a walk in the woods looking at the wild flowers. Spring is a great time to enjoy life outdoors. Here in Tennessee there are several hunting seasons opening to the hunters that may want to take advantage of the spring thaw such as wild feral hog or wild turkey and even an early spring squirrel season. Those of us who want to take on a new adventure this year can take advantage of the early hunting seasons or can set out engaging our new adventure with a friend who already knows about our chosen adventure.I, myself have decided to try hunting wild feral hogs this year and have researched them on the internet, as well as around the area with some of the local farmers and TWRA ( Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency ). I found a 500 acre farm of which I acquired permission to hunt and found out that they have taken some nice hogs of around 250 - 300 pounds from the farm last year while thinning out the group. I have plans on trying to take my hogs with a bow to start out and if this plan fails I'll go to the rifle. I've been offered the opportunity to go horse back riding on the farm while hunting for hogs but this may be alittle more challenge then I want not knowing how the horses will react. Although spring has shown it's face several times and the flowers and trees are blooming it's not quite over yet and I've still got alittle work to do before I'm ready for my first hog hunt. We,re in the dogwood winter now with blackberry winter quickly approaching then spring and the warm weather it brings will be here and I for one can't wait. Springtime and the beauty it brings is soon upon us so get out there and enjoy the outdoors again this year and be safe during your adventures.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Basics to Hunting Wild Feral Hogs.

When you start thinking of feral hog hunting where do you start? For anyone just starting out hog hunting ( like myself ) probably the best place to start is at your local wildlife agency. Asking the right questions can give you alot of useful information to getting you headed in the right direction. For most of us just starting out probably the first and most important thing to hog hunting is locating a place with a substantial group of hogs on it. Most wildlife agencies can tell you all the management areas with feral hog populations on them and may even give you a list of farms or ranches. Almost every management area is open to hog hunting during the deer hunting season only and ranchers charge a fee to hunt game on their ranch so if you can, try to locate a farm that borders a management area with feral hogs and ask the owner for permission to hunt wild feral hogs on their farm. If you get permission to hunt hogs ask the owner if he can tell you any places he's seen hogs consistently or if there's any fields that the hogs are destroying. Once you've located a farm to hunt and created a good repoor with the owner your next objective should be to look over the farm and decide from the signs and sightings the best place to ambush the hogs. Decide whether you want to hunt from a stand, a blind or just standing by a large tree. If your going to be using tree stands be sure to get permission to use them and never attach them to the trees with nails or any other damaging hardware and the same goes for using screw-in steps, get permission first. Now that your set-up is complete, make sure you acquire all the proper licenses for hunting wild feral hogs. Here in Tennessee, law requires a hunting license and a big game license (either gun, archery or muzzle loader depending on the weapon you hunt with. ). Once you've taken a feral hog it's not mandatory to check it in at a checking station here in Tennessee however, the wildlife agency would appreciate notification of the location and quantity of hogs taken. Okay now, you've taken your first feral hog so now what? Do you take it to a local processor or do you process it yourself? This would depend on you and your abilities, do you have the right equipment? Do you have the knowledge to properly process and package the hog you've taken? Is there someone that can guide you through the process and help you? If you have any doubt about processing your hog properly then perhaps it would be best for you to carry your hog to a processor until you can gain the knowledge to do it yourself. Well your now armed with some of the basics for getting started into wild feral hog hunting so get out there and help thin out the feral hog population and enjoy yourself while in the woods and fields this year and good luck.

Sus Scrofa

Sus Scrofa which is otherwise known as the pig was introduced to North America by the first European settlers some 10,000 years ago and although they have since been domesticated there are still groups of these free-ranging feral hogs today. They have a voracious appetite and destructive rooting behavior that can cause severe habitat damage especially to newly planted food production fields. To add to the feral hog problem is the fact that the females mature sexually at 5-8 months and can produce a litter of 6-12 piglets 2-3 times a year when conditions are favorable. Adding even more problems is the threat that comes from their ability to tranmit swine brucellosis and pseudorabies to farm raised animals causing a serious effect on the economy. A form of E-Coli bacteria has also just recently been discovered that effects humans to an extent of even causing death. Any wild hog found on management areas are considered as wild boars and any wild hog found on private property are considered as wild feral hogs. Hunting of wild feral hogs is open year round on private lands with no bag limits on either sex.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dangerous and Serious Trouble with a Lesson.

Upon getting off work Monday morning at 7:00 a.m., I went home then headed out to Fort Payne, Alabama to take care of some business then drove back home. All together I ended up being up for 31 hours. 12 hours of work, 2 1/2 hours before work just getting ready for work, the drive to Fort Payne and back with the business involvement was 12 1/2 hours then another 4 hours of work at home. After 31 hours of being up I finally gave in to the sleep but then Tuesday morning, I got up again at 7:00 a.m., had my coffee, drove to Crossville to help my daughter ( who just moved in with us after 126 days in jail ) try to find a job then stopped at the TWRA ( Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency ) to inquire about information on feral hog hunting, back home, got the wife and took her to Sparta to eat lunch and get groceries, back home and that's when things really got exciting and dangerous. I got a wild hair and decided because it was a beautiful day and the wind, I thought wasn't blowing real bad, so I lit a small fire in my garden spot to burn off the grass and weeds. Boy was that a mistake and a half. Soon as I lit the fire the wind gusted, the fire spread quickly and I was by myself trying to beat it out with only a leave rake. I ran to the house, grabbed my water hose which was to short, got the wife outside and told her to get help then returned to beating the fire with the leave rake. I beat the fire until I just couldn't beat it any more and was out of breath, shaking and coughing from the smoke. Finally help arrived, the water hose was extended with a second hose and then the Volunteer Fire Department, an ambulance and the White County Sheriffs Department arrived just in time to prevent the fire from catching my neighbors house on fire. After an hour and a half, the fire was out and then the sheriffs department stepped in and told me he was supposed to write me a citation and could even take me and put me in jail for 3 years. Finally after 30 minutes of talking to the deputy sheriff, it was decided by the officer that he wouldn't give me the citation or take me to jail ( lucky me ) but he was going to notify the U.S. Forestry Division and any complaints they received about the fire damage would put me in jail. Good thing I'm on good terms with my neighbor and she wasn't too upset about the fire damage. I had a few hot spots re-lite which I was able to put out quickly by myself and had a tree which was burning on the inside which I cut down and managed to get put out then continued to watch the burnt area till 8:00 p.m. for hot spots and re-lites. Fortunately there was no buildings lost,just underbrush. The good thing is my garden spot is now ready to turn and plant just as soon as it drys out but the bad news is it's supposed to rain here so I guess it will still be awhile before I can plant my garden. The lesson learned here was to get a burn permit from the U.S. Forestry Division and make sure you have plenty of help on hand when you burn and not on a windy day.