There is a reason the Liberty City community was once known as Hog Eye Country, and as of late the name has been revived as the area once again is being inundated with wild hogs.
Bo Camp (whose great grandparents, Della and Ben Chapman, settled in the area in the mid-1800s) said, “There are actually several stories pertaining to the name. One had to do with a man whose neighbor let his hogs get into his pasture. He supposedly caught the pigs and sewed their eyes shut to prevent them from coming back in. But, I doubt that seriously happened even though my great grandparents actually had a post office in their home at one time called the Hog Eye Post Office.
“My grandparents then bought 200 acres at the hub of the area where the four-way stop sign is now, and my mother was born in a house on one of those corners. They used to kill hogs and hang them in the smokehouse. The hogs that were not needed for butchering would be turned loose along the Sabine River banks to feed off the acorns and other stuff and then rounded back up again in the fall to kill for enough meat to get through the winter months.”
Of the 4 to 5 million feral hogs in the United States, an estimated 2.6 million call Texas home. Feral hogs can be found in 99% of Texas counties and cause an estimated $52 million in damages to Texas agricultural enterprises each year, according to the Texas A&M Agricultural Life Extension.
Pat Sheets, who lives near the Sabine River, said, “Something has got to be done. The wild hogs have destroyed my pretty green pasture, the dam across my pond and are now in my front yard. The holes are terrible – almost two feet deep but long where they have rooted. If anyone needed something buried, I could easily do so.”
Pat, age 81, is gaining the reputation of being the next Wyatt Earp having shot a hog recently near her deer feeder. She said, “They are mean and they are dangerous. I had a wild boar chase my dog almost right up to me, and I shot at the ground to keep from accidentally hitting my dog. The hog turned after I shot, otherwise it would have gotten me. I was okay while it was happening, but the minute I sat down on my porch I started shaking.”
One of her neighbors caught a photo of a 400 lb. hog on his camera last week and another neighbor, David Bardwell, has shot three of the hogs in his pasture within the last two weeks, according to Pat.
She readily admits, “I am getting too old to stay up late at night when they come up. I need to be able to do things during the daytime. I did have a young boy shoot one off my back porch and that was around midnight.
“I have dragged the holes with my front-end loader of the tractor attempting to fix it. When you drive over them it is like driving over a rub board.”
Deer season will start soon and Pat plans on calling in professional hunters two weeks into the season to have enough time for her own deer hunting.
Eddy Holley, who has pastureland near Hwy. 31 East, said, “You should see my pastures. They have rooted all the way across my land and have now crossed over the highway. Wild hogs are smart. They will come out late in the evening and go to the same place for two to three nights in a row then they will move. A lot of people think you can trap them, but that is not easy. Billy Higginbotham, who retired from the Texas A & M Research & Extension Center stressed through his seminars that you have to put bait in the traps first to get the feral used to going into the pen. Then set the trap.
“I don’t have much luck with the traps, I have better luck with Stay Tuf fence. I have learned it is easier to fence them out than to try to get rid of them after they have destroyed it. By the way, in Texas, it is legal to shoot a hog because of the amount of damage they do.”
According to Eddy, owner of Kilgore Feed Company, “I personally believe the corn deer hunters put out is a drawing card for the animals. They were not used to food being readily available, having to root for grub and other stuff before. If you stop and think about it, one sow can have a litter of 10 or more pigs each time. That is at least 30 pigs per year from one sow, so you can easily see why we are having such a problem.”
Damage to vehicles from the hogs is enormous, according to Gerad Waits, manager of Patterson Body Shop in Kilgore: “So far, we have seen 13 vehicles that have hit hogs,” he said. “Drivers don’t know what they hit a lot of times, but we can tell by the hair left on the vehicle. We have also repaired vehicles damaged by 41 deer, one cow, 18 raccoons and, the last couple of weeks, four coyotes. And we haven’t made it to the end of the year yet.”
Nonetheless, the hogs have become a serious problem. As for me, I think I will stick with Pat “Deadshot” Sheets.
MOTHER NATURE helped make the Soup & Pie Luncheon at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church a big success again this year. That cold front arrived just in time according to that bunch.
DON’T forget to turn your clocks back one hour this Saturday evening or at 2 a.m. Sunday morning officially if you care to stay up that late. We will gain that extra hour of sleep, but for the most of us driving home in the dark.
MAY HIS LOVE AND LAUGHTER fill your hearts and your homes throughout the week. In the meantime, we may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 903-984-2593.