On May 31, 2019, Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed HB 317 into law. It passed unanimously in the state’s House and Senate. It concerns a language change in the rules for hog hunting in Texas. But will it make a significant difference in the efforts to control the voracious critters?
Hog hunting in Texas is extremely popular. “It’s synonymous: Texas and pigs,” chef Randy King told GunsAmerica in an exclusive interview.
“It’s an opportunity that just isn’t available in other places. It’s a working man’s dream hunt,” he continued. King, a professional chef from Idaho, has hunted wild hogs in Texas ten times!
Previously, hog hunting on private land required hunters to purchase a hunting license. At $48 for non-resident hunters, the cost was not egregious, but not having to hassle with it should make it easier to hunt.
Landowners could previously allow hunting on their land without a license, but they had to claim depredation from the hogs. Now, they don’t have to claim depredation and can allow unlicensed hunters to shoot them.
King said that wild hogs are not only fun to hunt, but they are good to eat. Unlike some other wild meats, wild hog is familiar and tastes like domestic pork. “Large boars may have ‘boar taint’, a really strong taste. But a medium-sized sow is delicious,” said King, a published chef.
Wild hogs are unregulated animals in Texas, which means there is not a limit on hunting them and just about anything goes when choosing a weapon. It also means that salvaging meat is not required by law.
“I’ve seen t-shirts that say, ‘Member of the Vulture Feeding Club.’ Guys might use a .50 BMG and just leave the carcass,” King went on. “If I made a blanket statement, I’d say most Texans don’t salvage pig meat.”
Unlike other wild animals, Texas laws allow wild hog to be sold for public consumption as long as it’s inspected by a USDA certified facility. That means the meat must be inspected and butchered while it’s fresh, and that’s not always easy. Federal laws prohibit the sale of game animals, but since wild hogs are an invasive and unregulated species, the law doesn’t apply. In Texas, you might find wild hog on a restaurant’s menu.
Texas has millions of wild hogs and they do millions of dollars’ worth of damage to farms and ranches each year. The law change is supposed to make it easier for landowners to eliminate the problem.
Deer feeders are often taken over by pigs. King reported that you can lose the privilege to hunt a place if you neglect to shoot pigs.
“If you see a five-point buck with a pig behind it, you’d better shoot the pig. The deer will come back, but you’d better not miss a pig,” he explained.
“There’s an effort to control pigs with a resigned sense of defeat. They want to kill them all, but they get that they’re not going to win,” said Randy.
The new language in the HB 317 eliminates the need for hunters to have a license for private-land hog hunts. The law goes into effect this September. But landowners could already claim depredation from the hogs and bypass the license. It’s unclear whether this law now makes it legal to kill hogs on public lands without a license. Public land only makes up 4% of Texas, anyway, and much of that is tied up in national parks.
Are you planning a Texas hunt? Will it include wild hogs?