But let it be known that if there was a ham served as a holiday meal, it came from the grocery store.
The incident started with a rare-as-hen’s-teeth snow falling across Northeast Texas on Christmas Day. A native of the Overton area who long-ago moved away to the big city decided to enjoy the oddity by taking a walk across the family ranch with his daughter and son-in-law. Reaching the dam on one of the big lakes on the property they saw the footprints of pigs heading into a bottom.
Wild pigs are not a big problem in that immediate area, but they are a nuisance causing damage to pastures on the ranch from time to time. Wanting to help limit the damage, the landowner retreated to the house nearby for a rifle and returned hoping for a shot.
Although a trio of people walking through the snow may not be the best way to sneak up on pigs, it worked. They found the sow and the shooting began. When the smoke cleared, so to speak, there was nothing dead on the ground.
There was, however, a young piglet that somehow didn’t make the great escape. Unable to get away in the snow, the three ran down and caught it, immediately starting Chapter 2 of the story.
Baby pigs, like puppies and kittens, are cute. It takes a pretty tough person to kill one. But here is the problem. Within about seven months that cute little piggy could become a mother sow with her own litter of piglets in tow, and the cycle continues.
None of the three had the heart so they decided to call the landowner’s brother on the neighboring ranch. Considering himself somewhat more practical, his recommendation was short and swift.
“Stab it in the heart and bring it for the eagle,” he said, referring to a bald eagle that had taken up residence on the two ranches this winter.
There had to be another option, and it was decided the pig should be put in a box and squired around in search of its mother, the same sow that when last seen was in a full run away after being shot at numerous times without any regards toward its young. There was a good chance that if not in another county the pig was at the very least on another property.
Chapter 3 opens with other options considered before finally determining the young pig should be released where originally found it, hoping it would find the sow while telling the grandkids it would.
The somewhat cynical brother/neighbor quickly passed judgment on the plan, chiding the would-be hunters for not killing what they went out to kill, traumatizing the young pig by catching it an probably sentencing it to a more cruel death, and finally lying to the kids about what happened.
The Great Christmas Wild Pig Adventure of 2013 is a good example of when good intentions go bad in the wild. Wild pigs deserve the same status of fireants. The financial damage they cause to farm fields is well documented and runs in the tens of millions of dollars in Texas. What can’t be quantified financially is the damage the pigs do to native wildlife species and wildlife habitat.
If there is a moral of the story, it would be to aim straight and tell the kids Porky makes a better sausage than house guest.
Have a comment or opinion on this story? Contact outdoor writer Steve Knight by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Steve Knight on Facebook at TylerPaper Outdoors and on Twitter @tyleroutdoor.