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Year of the Pig

Mark J. Hainds

Publication Year: 2011

Year of the Pig is a personal account of one avid hunter's pursuit of wild pigs in eleven American states. Mark Hainds tied his mission to the Chinese calendar's Year of the Pig in 2007 and journeyed through longleaf forests, cypress swamps, and wiliwili forests in search of his prey. He used a range of weapons--black-powder rifle, bow and arrow, knife, and high-powered rifle--and various methods to stalk his quarry through titi, saw palmetto, privet hedge, and blue palms.

Introduced pig populations have wreaked havoc on ecosystems the world over.  Non-native to the Western Hemisphere, pigs originally arrived in the southeast with De Soto's entrada and in the Hawaiian Archipelago on the outriggers of South Pacific islanders. In America feral hogs are considered pests and invaders because of their omnivorous diet and rooting habits that destroy both fragile native species and agricultural cropland.

Appealing to hunters and adventure readers for its sheer entertainment, Year of the Pig will also be valuable to farmers, land managers, and environmentalists for its broad information and perspective on the topic.
Mark J. Hainds is Senior Research Associate with Auburn University and Research Coordinator for the Longleaf Alliance located at the Solon Dixon Forestry Center in Andalusia, AL. He travels widely giving presentations on various aspects of forestry and has published several technical papers, most notably, "Distribution of Native Legumes in Frequently Burned Longleaf Pine--Wiregrass Ecosystems" (American Journal of Botany: 86(11): 1606-1614, 1999). Hainds is a dedicated hunter and outdoorsman, from childhood.


Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

In 1539, Hernando de Soto brought the first pigs to the North American continent. It was a common practice among early explorers to establish swine populations on islands and other favored sites. The pigs’ hardy nature and ability to thrive in the wild ensured that there would be fresh meat (a valuable commodity among sailors in those days) when the explorers returned. ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

This is anything but your typical hunting book. Mark Hainds explores what I call “environmentally correct” hunting, about which I’m increasingly enthusiastic. Hunting of native game species is sustainable, of course, and may reduce environmental stresses from overpopulation, but given the choice between a ten- point buck and a 150- pound sow, you’re doing Mother Nature ...

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pp. xv-xvi

It would have been impossible to accomplish this project without the assistance of many people. A special debt of gratitude is owed to my wife, Katia, for sticking with me through this challenging year. Unlike many others, she actually believed this book project was worthwhile. That belief was not enough to keep impatience at bay, however. Although she was at the end of her rope by the conclusion of ...


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pp. xviii

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pp. 1-5

This was not an easy undertaking. Most of those who are close to me looked upon my goal as quixotic at best. Several individuals simply didn’t see the point, while others were outright hostile, regarding this as little more than “an excuse for Mark to go hunting every weekend.” Some regarded me as selfish in the extreme. ...

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1. Longleaf

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pp. 6-16

On a Friday evening I drove two hours and forty- five minutes northeast from my home in Andalusia to Auburn, Alabama. Earlier, some friends and former coworkers (James and Stephen) had invited me along for a hog hunt they had arranged at Fort Benning, Georgia, and after a good meal and a few beers, I crashed on their couch with a smile on my face in anticipation of ringing ears ...

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2. Titi

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pp. 17-22

The original story broke in May 2007. The article on MSNBC read like “Hogzilla II,” but I smelled a rat. The photo was the first hint at deception. As most any fisherman or hunter knows, it’s easy to make vanquished game appear larger than life: just play with perspective. By standing a few feet behind an animal, it’s easy to create an illusion that the animal or fish is much larger ...

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3. Over Bait

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pp. 23-27

Laurel oak (Quercus laurafolia): In botany, there are lumpers and splitters. Lumpers are pragmatists. They look at two separate plants that are identical in nine out of ten characteristics, and they issue their pronouncement: “Both trees are laurel oak. We shall name them Quercus laurafolia.” Splitters look at the same two trees, focus on a slight variation ...

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4. Privet

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pp. 28-44

As research coordinator for the Longleaf Alliance, I work out of the fifty-three-hundred-acre Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center, between Brewton and Andalusia, Alabama. As the crow flies, the Dixon Center is about ten miles from the Florida line. By automobile it’s an hour and a half to Pensacola, and two hours to Mobile, Montgomery, and Dothan, Alabama. The Dixon ...

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5. Oak/Hickory

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pp. 45-57

By August of 2007, it was time to pick up the tempo if there was any hope of killing pigs in ten states in one year. Logging onto eBay, I found a hog hunt near Counce, Tennessee. Counce was less than six hours away, and if the hunt was successful, it would add an additional state to my list. There was one big negative: it appeared that the seller had not received registered ...

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6. Ironwood

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pp. 58-63

One of my main duties as research coordinator for the Longleaf Alliance is to train foresters, landowners, herbicide applicators, land managers, and tree planters in appropriate, effective, and economical methods for the establishment and management of longleaf pine. One of the best ways to transfer this knowledge is through artificial regeneration workshops. ...

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7. Death in the Wiliwili

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pp. 64-87

Although my wife, Katia, had been incredibly patient with the mounting expenditures and time on the road my project was exacting, her forbearance was not inexhaustible. It was time for a family trip to a location everyone would enjoy. If there could be some good hog hunting along the way, so much the better. While there are plenty of islands close to the United States worthy of a visit, ...

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8. Beaver Pond

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pp. 88-92

My professional life is oriented around science. My personal life, at least in recent years, has been oriented around pig hunting. The two, the professional and the personal, blend rather well. When my attention becomes fixated on a given subject, be it spearfishing, coon hunting, how to plant a longleaf seedling correctly, or how to kill a pig, ...

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9. Hill Country

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pp. 93-105

Texas was another eBay hunt, purchased as a one-day, dawn-till-dark or dusk-till-dawn, hog hunt through Mickey Pophin and MPI Outfitters. Apparently, MPI had different locations to send its pig hunters. After a few phone calls and e-mails, the hunt was scheduled for the last weekend in September on the Rio Bravo. I invited my best friend, Mike Powell, who was temporarily working in Atlanta ...

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10. Blue Palm

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pp. 106-128

Five states down and the finances were starting to get ugly. Was this going to pay off in the long run? Surely it would be worthwhile, if only for the memories and the trophies. But neither memories nor trophies were worth much in the eyes of my wife and coworkers. Tangible results were needed. Perhaps, just perhaps, a book would sell enough copies to recoup at least some of ...


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pp. 129-136

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11. Chufas

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pp. 137-139

October 20, 2007. I had fallen asleep in a chair while listening to the Auburn–Louisiana State football game over the Internet. When I woke up, the game had taken a turn for the worse for the Orange and Blue, so I switched the line back from the Internet to the phone and went to bed. I’d just lain down when the phone rang. It was my coworker Larry. He asked me, “You want a pig?” ...

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12. Collateral damage

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pp. 140-150

The meeting in Virginia wrapped up late on a Thursday afternoon, and I was looking forward to a Mississippi hog hunt scheduled for Saturday morning. As I crossed from North Carolina to South Carolina on I- 85, I set the cruise control at two miles above the speed limit. The police had stopped cars every three to five miles. I passed a woman standing in front of a police cruiser ...

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13. Old Growth

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pp. 151-154

Mississippi had fallen through and Florida was a bust . . . again. Hopefully, things would turn around in Missouri and Arkansas. My sister had a game camera set up on the family farm, and she’d gotten pictures of some decent bucks. Since it is a danged long drive to Missouri, it made sense to combine the trip with an Arkansas pig hunt. If time allowed, some Corps of Engineers ...

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14. Ozarks

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pp. 155-160

I left the farm at 8:00 a.m. on November 15, heading south to Arkansas for another eBay hog hunt. The day before, Mark Martin of Wrangler Up Outfitters had told me to check in by 2:00 p.m. After missing the required turnoff a couple of times, I finally pulled up to the hunting lodge at 2:20. Mark introduced himself and invited me to sit at the ...

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15. A Long Walk

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pp. 161-164

... parked my truck on the shoulder of an onramp, reclined the seat, and fallen asleep with the engine running to provide some heat in the subfreezing temperature. Now, at about 7:00 a.m., having secured a few hours of sleep, I scraped the cobwebs from my eyes, sat up, and got back on the interstate, driving to the first ...

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16. Food Plot

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pp. 165-170

Broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus): Portions of the native longleaf range are identified by the dominant grass component of its understory. Southeast Ala bama is known as the “Wiregrass,” even though ninety- nine out of one hundred residents of the Wiregrass would not recognize the long- extirpated bunchgrass that once covered this ...

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17. Slash Pine

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pp. 171-174

Slash pine (Pinus elliottii): One of four species that may be sold as “southern yellow pine,” the others being shortleaf, loblolly, and of course, longleaf. Compared to its weedy northern neighbor loblolly, slash pine is superior in almost every characteristic: disease, insect, and fire resistance, wood quality, form, pinestraw, and lifespan. Compared ...

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18. Saw Palmetto

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pp. 175-185

Florida, the land of broken hearts and dissipating dreams. This state had punished me with ten consecutive strikeouts. It was well into December, and if I wanted a kill in ten states, it was time to bring back some pork- filled coolers from the Sunshine State. Back in the spring, a search on eBay for “hog hunt” had turned up an airboat ...

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19. Dog Fennel

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pp. 186-198

Dog fennel (Eupatorium spp.): There are several species of dog fennel in the genus Eupatorium, the most common of which is Eupatorium compositifolium. These are “ruderal” plants in the aster family. “Ruderal” means these are pioneer plants that thrive on disturbed sites. There is little dog fennel in a diverse, fire- maintained longleaf ...

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20. Valley Oaks

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pp. 199-210

In the process of killing my Florida pigs, I’d spent the equivalent of the gross domestic product of your typical west Alabama county, but the Sunshine State was finally in my rearview mirror. Praise the Lord! As the next- to- last state on my list, California would add both the West Coast and a new style of hunting: “spot and stalk.” At the Dixon Center I had killed ...

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21. Inside the Fence

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pp. 211-228

Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana): The only conifer native to northern Missouri. Eastern red cedar is a widespread, shade- tolerant, fire- intolerant, native evergreen. On the positive side: eastern red cedar yields a beautiful, aromatic, red and yellow wood that can be manufactured into closets, cases, paneling, and shelves. On subzero nights ...

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22. Bahia Grass

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pp. 229-234

Sometime during the first week of 2008, I finally got around to looking up the Chinese calendar on the Internet. I discovered that the first day of the Year of the Pig had been February 18, 2007. Coincidentally, February 18 had been the date of my first two kills at Fort Benning, Georgia. The final day of the Chinese year would be February 7, 2008. My pig- hunting ...

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23. Peanuts

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pp. 235-237

One week after killing the biggest sow of my hog- hunting career, I followed Larry to another one of his fields during our lunch break. Larry had forgiven me for shooting the sow out of his cow pasture, and I promised to pay double market value for any incidental bovine takes. Having grown up hunting in fields full of pigs, cows, and horses, I was confident of my ability to distinguish ...

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24. Eating the Pig

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pp. 238-241

Over the course of this quest, my health had been placed at significant risk. Two people I interacted with in 2007, Steven Ditchkoff from Auburn University and David Watson from Mims, Florida, both knew people who had contracted undulant fever (brucellosis) while handling meat from wild pigs. If there is real danger associated with pig hunting, it comes in the form of a bacterium ...

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pp. 242-244

What did I learn from the Year of the Pig? Pig hunting is fun, challenging, and exciting. I had discovered this long before the Year of the Pig, of course, but my appreciation for and understanding of the sport were greatly reinforced. Pig hunters can and should play a vital role in controlling pig populations. Pig hunters, especially hunters who use dogs, are particularly effective at catching large numbers of feral hogs in extremely challenging environmental conditions ...

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pp. 245-246

Of the sports in which I participate, hog hunting is way low on the risk spectrum. No rational life insurance company would write me if they knew everything I’ve done, do, and, more than likely, will continue doing. So, in the event of my untimely demise, I’d like to get this on record, so my friends and family will know what to do. ...

Further Reading

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pp. 247-248

E-ISBN-13: 9780817385637
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817356705

Publication Year: 2011