By Beth Hoad
When the 2011 hunting season is over, William “Bill” Moon, 69 of Marion, will have an unusual (for Wayne County) and colorful story to relate. He was bow hunting for deer from his tree stand on Cauwels Road in Marion, on Saturday, October 24 when an unusual opportunity arose. He tells his story as follows.
“I’d been in my tree stand for several hours and hadn’t seen anything when I heard something behind me. I turned and saw a big black pig coming through the woods. I set up my shot, but forgot to take my face mask down and my glasses steamed over and I couldn’t see a thing.
“At first the pig didn’t know I was around and stood there as big as day. It would have been a perfect broadside shot had I been able to make it. When I started fussing with my face mask and glasses, it heard me and trotted out of sight and into the swamp.
“I had a pretty good idea that she (it was a sow) would head for my food plot, so I climbed out of the tree stand and hurried to get ahead of her. I could hear her splashing around in there for half an hour, but couldn’t see her. Finally the splashing stopped and she came to where I could see her. She came within 15 yards of me and I had a good broadside shot. The arrow passed right through her just behind the shoulder. She traveled about 25 yards, went down and died.”
A lifelong hunter, Moon has harvested one or two deer every season since he started hunting, but this was his first feral hog. Although a few Marion residents reported seeing a “wild” hog, Saturday was the first time Moon saw it. After field dressing the animal, he took the carcass to Smith Packing Co., in Marion for processing, where the hanging weight was 228 lbs. According to Smith Packing owner Clarence Lawliss, the estimated live weight would be over 300 lbs.
Lawliss also said the sow was probably not over a year old. “Her face and teeth do not look like a mature pig, and she does not appear to have borne any offspring.”
There have been reports of the growing population of feral hogs in Cortland, Onondaga and Tioga counties, but none were officially reported in Wayne County until now. Moon’s hog is obviously not of the Russian or Euro-Asian types that are raising havoc in the southern states. It is apparently an escaped domestic type or perhaps one generation from domestic.
Some Marion residents have reported unofficial sightings, but none have had face-to-face meetings like Don Tennity of Minsteed Rd. relates. Tennity, former gun shop owner, avid outdoorsman and certified gun safety instructor was working in his woodlot in late August when he first spotted the animal. In order to be sure of his sighting, he rode his 4-wheeler toward it at which time it lowered its head and became aggressive. Having received instructions to kill such animals on sight, he went to his house and returned with his 38-Special, his hunting gun being packed away for his then upcoming bear hunting expedition two days hence.
“I went into the brush with my pistol and found it. I wounded it, but I didn’t have a big enough gun to do the job right, and it took off,” said Tennity. He said a couple of area residents claim to have seen it occasionally since then, and there have even been claims of pig kills, but he had never seen the carcasses. When comparing Tennity’s photograph of “his” pig, with the carcass of Moon’s kill, they appear to be two different animals. “That’s amazing to me, because Bill got his hog about 500 yards away from where my pig trap is. Maybe there’s a whole family of them,” said Tennity.
According to DEC, as many as 200 of the wild Russian or Euro-Asian type boars have escaped from game farms in New York State. An unknown number of others are escaped domestic hogs. These animals are difficult to kill with head shots because of their thick skulls and the shape of their heads. Feral hogs are aggressive, can weigh up to 400 lbs and have razor sharp tusks. An interesting unexplained oddity is that once a domestic pig goes wild, it will turn black.
Officials say the hogs directly compete with deer, bear, turkey, squirrel and waterfowl for food and will also eat eggs of ground-nesting birds. They are known to kill and eat fawns and young domestic livestock as well as almost any agricultural crop. Their rooting and wallowing habits also destroy crops and native vegetation.
Feral hogs carry and can transmit swine brucellosis, E coli, trichinosis and pseudorabies to livestock and possibly human.
They are highly adaptable and prolific breeders with the ability to breed as early as 6 months of age. Wild hog populations can triple in one year if not checked.
DEC officials encourage residents who see feral hogs to report them immediately. There is no specified season on the animals, which means that anyone with a small game or other hunting license can legally kill them at any time and any location except those prohibited by NYS firearms/hunting regulations.
Meanwhile, Bill Moon is looking forward to eating pork chops from the first feral pig he ever bagged.