RATCLIFF, TX (KTRE) - Five minutes before one of five check stations was scheduled to shut down for the first day of the Lone Star Wild Hog Tournament two pickup trucks pulled up. Wild hogs was the cargo.
"Do ya'll weigh many of 'em?," said a hunter as he pulled out an extremely large boar hog.
Weight in this hog tournament, only matters to the, "side bets going," laughed the hunter.
The guesses began. "I said 175 while ago," said a bystander. "I say 160," said a hunter. The boar was lifted on a weight held by a tractor.
Everybody was way off. "200 pound boar hog, even," yelled the tournament volunteer.
The big boar is probably the daddy to what does matter, the quantity of wild hogs hunters can bring in during a week's time. They're off to a good start.
"How many we catch?," asked Paul Shepherd to his partner, Cody Parrish.
"I had 7," Parrish answered. "Seven and 11. That would be 18 hogs this morning," calculated Shepherd.
The two are wildlife specialists for Boggy Slough Wildlife Management Area, near Ratcliff, where the hogs were trapped. Their daily bounty is a fraction of what's out there.
"Generally, last year we probably trapped around 300 hogs," said Shepherd. And that's the way it's been for the last three years.
"I know on the farm road I live on, I've seen them in people's yards," said Parrish. "(They have) two litters a year. They can be bred at like 6-8 months, something like that, and any where from 8-11 per litter. So you can do the math there," said Shepherd.
The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) did some figuring.
"For each check in station it's $1000 for the top person and the top team that brings in the most hogs," explained a chapter president, Craig White.
Just maybe the enticement can lead to the reduction of the hog population that poses a threat to humans, livestock, property and wildlife.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, there are more than 2-million feral hogs in the state, causing more than $400-million in damage each year.
NWTF launched the hog tournament this time of year because turkeys are preparing to nest. Research shows that wild hogs can wipe out the nests of all ground nesting birds,including quail. They also pose a nuisance for deer hunters. Deer corn can be devoured by hogs in a short period of time.
Check stations in five national forests will open daily each morning for two hours and all day March 6th. Check stations are at ranger stations in Honey Grove, Zavalla, Milam, Ratcliff and New Waverly.
You can find a quick link of the official Lone Star Wild Hog Tournament rules on the home page of the National Wild Turkey Federation's Texas web site. www.nwtf.org/texas
Organizers hope the hunt will be successful, so they can bring it back next year.
There's still time to catch up, although these trappers feel pretty confident.
"I got it in the bag," smiled Shepherd.