When you make a living chasing bad guys, it is only natural to find a hobby that brings a high intensity experience that exceeds that thrill. There are few things that top the feeling of capturing a criminal.
Lt. Peyton McKinnie of the Union Parish Sheriff’s Department has found an alternative prey. You would think that after 25 years of pounding a beat and keeping law and order, Peyton would be found relaxing on the lake or taking on a less exertive hobby. But this hobby has become more that just fun. It is now his side business. As President of both the Tiger Bend Hunting Club and the Union Long Spurs (National Wild Turkey Federation) you would think he has a full plate. Add to that, he serves as the Southern Regional Director of Garry Mason’s Legends of the Outdoors National Hall of Fame. With all that on his plate, this Pro Staffer for Cedar Hill Game Calls finds time to chase his favorite prey: The Feral Hog.
When he and friends Bryan Tucker and Nathan Pilgreen founded Tiger Bend Outdoors, a deer stand company, they started by conferring with the experts at Hogg Boss in Bastrop. Kory Gilbert and Scott Hall were their mentors as this new way of catching hogs was not well known in North Louisiana.
The Hogg Boss trap system consists of a solar powered gate and controller which can be remotely set off when the trapper is ready to capture his prey. The cell camera detects movement and alerts the user who can then wait and engage the gate to close when desired. Old hog traps worked off of a trip wire or panel. This meant that when a single hog came in the trap would engage while the rest of the group or sounder got away. Without question, this method is the only effective means of catching hogs for control of numbers.
Peyton starts with the game cameras set up in creek bottoms until he can detect where the sounder of pigs is actively feeding. Once he has found where they are feeding, he begins supplemental feeding using corn and Delta Magic Apple and Strawberry. As he is feeding, he starts by mounting the gate in the upward position with no panels. This gets the sounder used to feeding around the metal of the pen without alarming. Of note: If you ever spook a pig with a trap, scent or danger, they are gone. And gone for good. This is the reason for game cameras that send remote signals so the trapper does not disturb the area except when adding fencing or gates. Peyton sets up his fence within 40 yards of the feeding area and starts feeding closer and closer until he has the sounder comfortable feeding around the enclosure.
Not just any wire will do for catching hogs. Hogs are very athletic and can scale a fence or knock it down. Five feet tall is the minimum with at least 30 feet of diameter in the enclosure. Peyton uses the Hogg Boss Corral System which is very stable and when installed properly, can hold the biggest and baddest boars.
This is year number one for Tiger Bend Outdoors trapping, but if success is indicated in numbers, Peyton and his team are well on their way. What is interesting is where he is finding large sounders of pigs. One site is within the city limits of Marion. Not having many pigs years ago has changed in Union Parish.
The hills of that part of the country are lush with food sources. These hogs are believed to have migrated into the hills in search of food but also in search of domestic hogs which they readily cross breed. Hill hogs and river bottom hogs are different for this reason. Hill hogs rarely have tusks and colors range from red, speckled to listed. River bottom hogs almost always have exposed tusks and are black, spotted and dark red. But the issue is the same. These animals excel at reproducing. If you see one hog, you can rest assured there are many many more that you don’t. In the summer time, hogs are primarily nocturnal with a water source being their main concern. Hogs do not have sweat glands so they must “wallow” or get into the wet mud to cool. The most detrimental activity is to trees. A grown hog will literally rub a pine tree to a toothpick. They use the sap on the tree to ward off bugs and insects. They are rooters, thus the name “piney ridge rooters.” They will destroy a stand of timber down to the dirt. Forage consists of anything edible which coincidentally is the same food needed for deer and other critters in the woods. Hogs take it down to the dirt and unlike other animals, leave nothing but ruts and rooted up areas with nothing growing.
One of the biggest forces in this venture to take out the hogs for Peyton is the protection of the wild turkey. Nothing in the woods hurts the turkey population worse than a wild hog. Eggs are eaten, polts are killed and the needed underbrush turkeys use for cover and food is gone. The wild hog is the number one nuisance animal in our state. They are the reason for decreasing quail numbers, decreasing turkey reproduction and loss of deer habitat. The only way to effectively control them is through the use of mass trapping. You cannot shoot them out of the woods or even put enough dogs on the ground to control them. Average sounders I have found number 10 and above. If you put two sounders on 500 acres, you have serious problems.
According to Peyton, the harsh floods of years past in the Mississippi River Delta and the Ouachita River have pushed these hogs to high ground. With no intervention, they will continue to strive and grow in population. However, this is one lawman that is hot on their trail to preserve the rich resources we have for all wild game to enjoy and to share with those of us who love the outdoors. It almost makes me feel sorry for the hogs.