Monday, June 02, 2008

Getting Close, Part 2: Will Feral Pigs Attack?

Saturday, after the garage sale delivery and the gator in the road, I had one more close encounter with wild critters.

Although technically these are feral critters, they are plenty wild and an established part of Florida's ecosystem.

With the gator shots stored safely in the Sony, I was already counting the morning a success, when I rounded another corner and movement in the road caught my eye.

Far ahead of me, a pack of baby wild hogs were lounging in the dappled morning light. I took one shot through the windshield ... an insurance shot in case they spooked ... and then I slipped out with the door hanging open and the JEEP in the middle of the dirt road.

Hunkering down, I crouch-walked twenty paces closer, shot photos, moved again, shot photos, moved again, shot photos ...

Every time I shot a picture, I was sure they would snort and run off, but eventually I got within fifty feet of the piglets.

They were pretty cute for piney rooters and seemed perfectly content to snooze in the sun.

Every so often, a few of them would go to Momma who was working something delicious along the road shoulder.

The diehard nappers could not be budged.

This is the view back from my last photo position, just before the Momma pig finally sensed me and called her flock to her side. I had crouch crept that entire distance to get close to them. It was going to be a long dash back if she charged me, but an uncornered wild hog is almost never going to take that route.
Besides, I wasn't going any closer.

Here, she has sensed me and called her babies closer. There were more than that, some are off camera.

In the last pic, she's apparently giving them orders to follow her across the road at a gallop, because after a deep snorty grunt, that's what they all did.
The sow went first, up the slope and across the dirt road into a shady cypress swamp. She was followed by a broken chain of piglets scurrying after her.
I was so stoked about this encounter, that the fuzzy, out of focus shots of the wild turkey hen and her poults (up around another bend) were only a minor disappointment.


pablo said...

Florida is indeed a different land. Tell me, FC, do the gators down there allow themselves to eat pork?

Anonymous said...

The babies are much cuter than their mama, that's for sure. What a treat to see the whole herd of them! I can imagine you were stoked because I felt that way when I saw mama mallard and a bunch of babies cross the road on the way to town.

Nothin' cuter than a baby _______ (fill in the blank).

Susan said...

Sweet baby pigs, snuggled together on a sunlit sandy road... I'm starting to get . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . drowsy.

On a pragmatic note... have you ever eaten wild pig? (I have not.) Does it taste good? Does it need to be slow-cooked to be tender? I'm just curious.

Rurality said...

Cool! I've never seen them. Had always heard you didn't want to, they were so fierce. Glad to hear that's not true. :)

SophieMae said...

OMIGOSH! How cute can they get?! I'd be stoked, as well. I've never been able to get that close. They really are wary creatures. My heart would've been pounding so, I'm sure they'd hear it.

Does your dinosaur book have recipes for wild hogs? I'd love to hunt them... well, maybe. I'm an excellent shot... when the target isn't running... and my hands aren't quite as steady as they were a few years ago...

robin andrea said...

Wild baby hogs sleeping in the road, does it get any better than that for a serendipitous moment? Well, maybe, but that still is one very fine encounter.

roger said...

cute, almost cuddly, organic, free-range pork. with a possibly dangerous keeper.

you are a daring photographer.

Anonymous said...

So glad the Sony has a long zoom. Just thinking that could have been a nice sprint back to the JEEP.

No pigs, gators, pre-dusk owls, blueberries, or cardinals in my neck of the woods, so this is quite a treat!

I like the new tiny gator pic but I still aint' sticking my foot in the water. your very........clear........phots's time for.......a nap.......

island timer said...

LOVE the piglet gang!!
Every spring/fall it never fails that we come upon a few haphazardly. (imagine a seen from Bambi) Anywho, babies end up at our place for a few weeks until they are ready for the real world... but they're always a riot to have around the yard for a spell.
EAT them?? Only the sows...

The cattle ranchers despise them around these parts since they dig up the fields and inevitably the cows founder into the holes, after which the cow must be put down.

island timer said...

oops...just realized I used the wrong SEEN!! I meant SCENE!! Perfect spelling is a curse of mine!!!

Floridacracker said...

Anything that's smaller and doesn't swim fast enough.

True on that statement. Cuteness is wasted on the young.

I have. It's a popular game animal here. Sows are tastier than boars generally.

The fierce tales come from hunters who have cornered the hog with a pack of dogs.
Yes, they are plenty fierce when cornered, but I see them all the time and each time they spook at the slightest sound.

These are legal game, so get ready.
There's pork recipes in that book, but no specific wild hog recipes.

It was pretty sweet. Piglets are hard not to go awwww over.

i want the pictures the other guys don't get. like when felling trees, i always have my escape route planned before i commit.

I had a favorable wind for stalking and she was so into whatever was growing there. The lens isn't THAT long.
Try not to sleep in the road.

Floridacracker said...

Island Timer,
They cause a lot of problems and it would be better if (like all feral critters) they were not here.
In the meantime, they can provide some hunters with a BBQ.
Glad you liked the pictures!

debbie said...

We have feral pigs living on some heavily wooded land that we own. However, we hear them more than we see them. They drive the dogs crazy because we won't allow the dogs to go after them. Many, many years ago my dad and a friend of his used to go into the swampy areas west of Miami on horseback to hunt wild hogs. Did the vet ever discover the reason behind Gumbo's illness?

rick said...

how many did you get this time for $100,,hope Gumbo is well

Floridacracker said...

The blood test showed anemia, elevated liver values, but no silver bullet target.
Could be:
Liver abcess, liver shunt, general infection.

He's on the antibiotics and is doing great!


vicki said...

These only look a little like the 9 piglets born at the zoo farm over the weekend. Both varieties are pretty cute as far as I"m concerned. When will it be piglet time at PF again? Great photos!

Jane said...

Great pictures. Love seeing these little grunters! We are starting to get wild boar back in the UK (but they are very secretive, and aren't seen much... however, they do loads of damage). Great post. Thanks.

Floridacracker said...

Hey! Very glad you are publishing again by the way :)
Pig time here is December or late November.

I think yours get a lot bigger than ours!

Leslie said...

I love visiting your blog. It's like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom on the 'net - but with a more personal flair.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks! You made my day!

Anonymous said...

They look delicious. Does the meat go well with squirrel?