Halff Brothers Ranch
Hog Articles
"I don't need a gun, I'll just chase the hog down..."
(This article first appeared in the San Antonio Construction News -July 2004)

If it didn't happen on the Halff Brothers Ranch, you're not going to read about it here!


The Ranch
Ranch & Game Profile

Frequently Asked Questions


If you want to impress someone, take him for a Trophy deer hunt. If you want to get to know somebody, take her for a hog hunt. Hog hunting brings out character.

The sport has occasionally gotten a bad rap in Texas, but don't you believe it. Too often we hear stories concerning over-population; trapping by the hundreds; and farmers and ranchers killing hogs and leaving them dead where they lay. Varmints? Damn varmints?
Varmints...? Damn Varmints?

But there is another point of view...
Hunting hogs can be some of the most challenging, the most entertaining and sometimes, the scariest hunting there is.
And, if you want to develop a solid relationship, or get the measure of a man, or a woman,... Take them hog hunting...

If you think you can get the measure of a business associate, figure what you can learn about your wife....

Porkers are a supreme challenge and easy as can be. They possess an excellent sense of smell but have lousy eyesight and so-so hearing. They can be wary animals at times but at other times they might hear a guide running his corn route and run into the back tire of the truck in their hurry to get to a tasty morsel.

Feral hogs can learn quickly where danger lies, then forget it in a moment. They can be hunted in the day and in the night. Hogs are known for running and for stopping, so if the hunter has the lungs and the heart, hogs can be caught. And they can be hunted from blinds, trees, trucks and on foot.
But on foot is the most amusing.

This is Rufus, he is not the guide in question. But that hog is very alive...

There was, for instance, one young guide on the ranch, obsessed with all things hogs and dogs. He literally ran them down on foot. His story could be a tall tale if it wasn't for the fact that every word is absolutely true.

This guide was by definition a breed apart but he understood that hunting is basically no different than any entertainment venue - and his job was to entertain.

He figured that if people want to pay for an experience he would try to give them one. If the indelible moment of a hunt was seeing a man tackle a hog then he had succeeded at his job.

We like to think that a hunt should contain camaraderie, tranquility, sport, excitement and always the beauty of nature.

Many times harvesting an animal then mounting and displaying the trophy is just an added bonus.
Good guides understand this and they strive to provide as many of the conditions as they can for a memorable time.

The challenge is that game can't be controlled. They can be studied, patterned and anticipated but the experience can - and does - veer from the expected in a moment of time. This particular guide could make that moment swerve into twilight zone territory simply by announcing that he could run down a hog. The fact was that this guide tackled hogs. He jumped on hogs. He rode hogs. He tripped hogs and almost always he stuck his knife into their innards when he was done.

This drove the hunters wild!

Sometimes when he caught a hog that was small, he would keep it alive but he would perform a bit of surgery to relieve it of its source of testosterone.
He would turn it loose with the plan of returning two years later to track it down again, when the tusks had grown to three of four inches.

Trophy Hogs - All Natural

Those hogs would have put on two or three hundred pounds and by all measures they would be trophy hogs.

The blade he used was about 12 inches of homemade razor sharp steel. He set store by that knife. A day wouldn't go by that he wouldn't touch up the edge. Sometimes an hour wouldn't go by.
Third only to hogs and horses, his knife was his closest friend. He carried his knife in an unusual place, hanging next to the snap of his jeans. Even though he was a tall man, a 12-inch "pig sticker" hanging from the front of one's waist was not a sight to ignore. It says loud and clear, don't mess with me.
He claimed that it was handier in that position. When he ran with the knife flapped wildly, but he always knew where it was.

Running a healthy animal down on foot is a challenge for the athletic. When the animal is wounded, it is a challenge for a particularly unique athlete…psychologically unique that is. Some would call it crazy.
This twenty something kid with legs as long as a post and just about as thin got so excited his hands would shake at the thought of chasing a pig.

When a hunter wounded an animal early in the day, with plenty of daylight left, he would turn to his hunter and say calmly, "okay you wait here I am going to go get your hog."
The hunter invariably would point out that he didn't have a gun. "It's okay he would say, I have all I need right here," and he would pat his scabbard confidently.
And then he would go after the hog.

He approached wounded hogs the same way that he did healthy tuskers. He tackled hogs, he jumped on hogs, he rode hogs, he tripped hogs and he always stuck his knife into their innards when he was done.

And then he would sharpen his knife some more.

If the animal was wounded late in the day and the daylight was rapidly dissipating he would take his hunter back to camp for dinner and then check with the ranch manager. Darkness added a new factor but the talk always went something like this:

"Boss, I got a wounded pig I need to go get, can I take one of my dogs?"
The manager asks, "Is he a big boar?"
"No" came the answer
"Well then, don't worry about him til morning, it's late."
"Oh no sir, I don't mind, I'll just get one of my hounds and it won't be a problem at all."

This is where his hands would start shaking a bit. Just the thought of chase was enough. The manager would be feeling the energy too, but of a different sort.
"You better not be bringing one of your catch dogs with you, he would warn. I don't want those animals loose on this ranch. If I see or hear one of those catch dogs, I'm going to shoot it. Do you understand?"

Catch dogs have a bad rap, deservedly so from the point of view of some. They corner a hog then latch onto it. Literally they catch it and don't let go. The hunter then has to come and kill the hog. In the process, hog tusks can gut a dog or a man with a twist of the animal's head. It's hard on dogs, it's dangerous for the hunter and most men wouldn't consider facing it.
But the guide would answer, "Oh no sir, I'm only going to use my red cur, the bay hound."

This red bay dog was an amazing animal. It would run off into the brush and after a time it would bay twice. Neither dog nor human was a social talker and two bays to the moon was all it took to alert his master to his situation. Two bays meant come on in; I have the animal cornered and its up to you.
At two bays, the guide would charge into the brush and even in the dead of night he always came back with the hog. No one ever saw him hunt with a gun.

There are certain types of men who could smell hogs the way kids can smell chocolate chip cookies baking down the street. Instinctively these kindred souls knew where to find hogs whether breaking dawn or approaching midnight.
Not every hog hunt is as exciting as moving into the brush with that guide, but each one has a certain thrill.

Hunting demands more from a group relationship than a golf or basketball outing. It is an experience of life and death.
Because of that, it becomes an insightful way to develop relationships and get the measure of a man or woman - or even a guide with shaky hands.



Check out these beautiful hogs and look for more on the yearly photos collections




Updated October 26, 2004