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Upshur County 'nuisance' hunt brings 150 feral hogs

By by Reese Gordon
Feb. 23, 2014 at 10 p.m.

GILMER- For Jeff Dodd, the annual "Hog Wild" feral hog hunting tournament in Upshur County is necessary to preserve a way of life.

As "Hog Boss" and chairman of the tournament since its inception five years ago, Dodd and hunters from around the county have tried to reduce the damage done to farmland by the "nuisance with no natural predator of its own."

"You can't kill enough hogs to make a difference," Dodd said Sunday. "Our state's Legislature hasn't really done anything about the problem. So it is up to the locals to take care of it. Farmers, ranchers, everyday people. Hogs are a nuisance and cause damage to crops and equipment."

Sunday marked the last day of this year's tournament, in which 12 two-member teams harvested about 150 hogs, Dodd said.

Gilmer resident Cody Anderson walked away with $2,900 and two game cameras as the prize for killing the largest hog of the tournament, which Dodd said weighed in at 230 pounds.

He said two more "dog" teams, made up of four members each, were tasked with bringing hogs back alive.

The hogs caught Sunday will be sold to a packing plant in Fort Worth, Dodd said.

The tournament headquarters are off U.S. 271 at Upshur County Commissioner Mike Spencer's tractor dealership.

Spencer has a livestock pen, which is used to hold the hogs caught during the tournament.

"Hogs have torn up 2 to 3 acres of my hay meadow," Spencer said. "People need to understand they can cause thousands of dollars of damage overnight."

Longtime hog hunter Michael Blanks described the tactic used in catching hogs.

"We use Cur dogs, which could be hounds," he said. "We turn four or five dogs loose ... Once the hog is located, you turn two pit-bulls wearing Kevlar bite-resistant collars and armor loose. Those dogs then catch the pig by the ear and hold it. You then flip the pig over and tie its feet together."

Blanks said he used his dogs to catch 15 feral pigs during the 2012 tournament.

Not everyone has been keen about the hog-hunting tournament, Dodd said.

"We've had people write letters to the editor at the Gilmer Mirror saying these hogs are defenseless animals. They are not defenseless. And most of the guys out here hunting are farmers who have had their crops destroyed by the hogs. So when that happens, that's money coming out of their pockets, and they don't like that."

Money raised by the tournament will help provide daycare programs for families in Upshur County, Dodd said.



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