It’s usually about this time of year I do a story on hunting rather than golf, but as Erin, my unbearably beautiful daughter, has grown, she has become aware of her father’s homicidal tendencies toward edible migratory birds, and as it turns out, she does not approve. Not to be deterred, I broached the subject of the feral hog, a giant, bristle-covered and largely inedible pork-beast that has caused untold damage to millions of acres of crops, habitat, and now golf courses. Would my little game warden mind if daddy helped frightened farmers and landowners by shooting the occasional big bad hog, like…dead?
No dice. “Piggies are cute, daddy,” she said, wagging one of her mother’s fingers. “And they’re smart, too.” I was ready to give up when I remembered it was fawning season. I decided to take the golden child down to my friend Kyle Bass’s ranch in east Texas to see if we could find a baby deer. As luck would have it, my baby got her face licked by a little girl-deer only a few hours old, and her smile was as wide as Texas. Yes, I thought! Dad scores some serious points!
Then she saw the hog. About 100 yards away, a 350-pounder was sinking his tusks into the still-warm corpse of another fawn. A few yards away from that the helpless mother bleated in grief. I put my arm around my baby, watched the tears well up in her eyes and said, “That’s just nature, baby.” But then, like that girl in The Exorcist who could barf 20 yards, her head swiveled and she growled at me, “No, daddy, that pig needs to die.” “Yes it does, sweetie,” I said, gulping nervously. “Yes it does.”
The very next morning, I and the worst beagle in Texas were back at the ranch, tucked safely away in a blind. Through my binoculars I spotted a small troop of hogs trotting out of the woods about 300 meters upwind. I thought I’d start light, so I leveled my little Sako on the biggest pig. There was a crack, and then I heard the sound of a 62-grain bullet smacking into pigskin. That’s when the big hog turned to the one behind it and said, “Nigel, did you hear something? And what the hell just bit me on the ass?” Then the entire pork-cluster took off into the woods. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” I said. Ziggy looked up at me. “Bring enough gun, you moron,” he yawned.
Twenty minutes later, another group of inedible bacon-varmints appeared from the opposite side of the tree line. Now I heaved up the Desert Tactical .338 Lapua Magnum, a 17-pound vehicle-stopping cannon of a firearm. No more Mr. Nice Guy. I peered through the scope and picked out a hog bristle. “Whumpf!” the gun bellowed. The blind shook violently, and I’m pretty sure Ziggy pooped a niblet.
I peered over the sight at where the hogs had been. It appeared there were only two left, and they weren’t moving. We set off across the pasture to investigate. After putting on his pork-stalker hat, sucking on his briar pipe, and giving the ex-hogs a damn good sniffing, Ziggy looked at me and said, “These hogs are no more.” No kidding, I thought, and then it occurred to me—the first shot I had taken was with exactly the same caliber that American troops fire at our enemies. Meanwhile, they are shooting back at us with soft-nosed .308s or larger, which will kill or maim pretty much anything with which they come into contact. Looking at Hoggamus deadamus, I was thinking that maybe our boys and girls in arms deserve a few more .338 LMs to go with the pea-shooters they have at the moment.
Those are fine for close quarters, but no one wants to get that close, even to a feral hog. Hell, my daughter could tell you that.