Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Helicopter Swine Eradication...

These are photos I shot last week for a story about feral hog eradication. These guys are doing it a little different, they are shooting them from helicopters. Now before anyone decides that this is inhumane, I'll say this, feral hogs in west Texas are a major nuisance, they destroy crops and can do serious damage to cars if they get hit. Not to mention they are mean as hell. These aren't the Arnold Ziffle, pigs from Green Acres they're shooting. These are mean hogs that will kill you and eat you given the chance. Not to mention a pack of 5 or 10 can literally ruin a couple of acres of crops in one night.
So, I went out early one morning and wasn't able to get a whole lot done. About half way through I got called back to the office because there were a number of afternoon assignments that needed to get done and no one to do them. That actually worked out well. Being out there Monday was more like a circus than anything. There was a film crew there doing a documentary about the project as well as a Lubbock TV station doing a story, plus us and a guy who was coming up to take all the hogs killed that day to process them to feed the hungry. Tuesday was a lot more laid back, it was just me with the film crew, who were a lot of fun to hang out with, and the helicopter crews. I was able to get some better stuff too since some of the fields they were shooting hogs in were close enough to the road that I could get some shots of the hogs being shot from the helicopters, albeit with a really long lens. I was using my 400mm lens with a 2x teleconverter and I still had to crop into the photos. Then again I'd rather shoot it with a long lens since there are bullets and mean pigs flying and running around!
Actual hunting of hogs is legal, and there are no limits on the number that are allowed to be shot. However, hunting them from helicopters is illegal. The way these guys get around it is a number of farmers in Haskell County have banded together to pay to have the hogs eradicated. They keep a record of all of the hogs shot and where. It's really pretty incredible to see how good a shot these guys are being able to shoot a pig running around and changing directions quickly while shooting from a moving helicopter. And while I had to get up before the sun came up two days in a row it was really worth it to be able to experience this.




Jason St. Peter said...

Interesting photo essay. I know all to well the damage these hogs are doing. I posted a photo recently about hogs in East Texas

Tommy said...

Thanks Jason, I was amazed at how quickly they can ruin a field. One farmer told me a pack of 10 of them can ruin a freshly planted peanut field in one night. Often after planting they spend the night out there for then next couple weeks just shooting pigs.