As I understand it, wild pigs weren’t very common in California until William Randolph Hearst imported some Russian wild boar to stock his private game preserve at Hearst Castle. Apparently everything went along fine and dandy until the boars refused to cooperate and escaped into the surrounding countryside.
For a couple of decades, it seemed as though nothing was happening on the pig front, but the boars began to breed with escaped barnyard pigs and expanded their numbers in the wild backcountry of the coastal mountains.
It was in the late ’50s that pig hunting became popular both on the Central Coast and on Catalina Island. Hunting guide services soon became available, and word got out that wild pigs were a pretty darned good game animal. By the late ’70s, the pigs had spread across the coastal valleys and into the fringes of the great Central Valley.
During the past few years, however, wild pigs have become increasingly numerous on the ranches where I catch rattlers. I began to carry a .357-caliber Magnum handgun, just in case I might run across a boar at close range.
I finally began to get shots at the wild pigs, but the pigs proved smarter or faster than me, and I missed
several shots at running boars 75 to 100 yards away. All right, so I’m not a great pistol shot. Still, hitting a moving target at more than 50 yards is a pretty hard trick with a handgun.
I began to carry my old 7 mm Mauser carbine with me. About two months ago, I missed a running shot at a huge boar about 400 yards away. I didn’t feel too bad about missing, because that’s a long shot even for a good rifleman.
Then, a month ago, I missed a couple of uphill shots at 40 yards that any idiot should have made. It’s really embarrassing when your son says, “Gee, Dad, next time you should take a little more time and aim more carefully.” This pig hunting can sure be humiliating.
Finally, on Memorial Day weekend, I spotted a nice pig standing broadside at about 50 yards. This time, I did everything right and actually shot my very first wild pig. This time, my boy’s comment was, “All right, Dad, great shot!” What a thrill!
Although the pig I got was only average and weighed about 250 pounds on the hoof, I’m still almost as excited as a new bridegroom. I could get into this wild pig stuff.
Now I’ve got to get a really big one. I heard that one of the guys on a neighboring ranch shot an old boar that went over 800 pounds. Now there’s a goal.
Until next week, tight lines.
• Don Moyer, author and outdoors columnist for the Tracy Press, began writing Tight Lines more than three decades ago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.