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Texas | Columns | Somewhere in the West

Hog Drives of
the Frio Canyon

A Trilogy

Part III:
Here a Pig, There a Pig
Third and Final Event of the Pig Trilogy

by Linda Kirkpatrick

The Texas Boars web site has a lot of scary hog information. For instance, of the 254 counties in the state of Texas, 225 have feral hogs. I wish that I knew what those remaining counties are doing to keep those pesky critters on the other side of the county line. The estimated population of hogs in Texas is well over 2,000,000. A sow will breed at about 6 months of age and she can produce about 1,000 little piglets in a five year period. I saw, with my very own eyes, a sow with three litters following along behind and I assumed that they were all hers because there were no other pigs around. I have since learned that there are “pig sitters.” In other words one sow will keep other litters in tow while the other mama sows are off feeding. Who knew? This is a great plan for these omnivores.

One factor in the population growth of the feral hog is the trap and release program. I never could understand why in the world you would want to trap them and then turn them loose again but maybe I can find a trap and release expert to answer that question. Another factor is the rapid reproduction, sometimes two or three litters a year.

Today in Real County there are several dedicated “hog hunters” and they don’t understand catch and release if you get my drift. I will introduce you to a few of these unique people. There are many hunters in this community with wonderful stories however I don’t have room in this column but who knows…maybe later, on another page you will find the rest of the stories.

Bob Ramsey

Bob is one of the most notable hog hunters around these parts and is at the top or close to it for the number that he has eliminated in the area. He is a great story teller. I first heard his story telling ability when I was in the 6th grade. He spoke to our 4-H club on the art of rattling up a buck. I was spellbound and could not wait to get home and try it. In Bob’s book, “As Texas as It Gets” he gives a brief history of how the Russian hog arrived in Texas. He also states that by 1999 he had reduced the feral hog population by 925.

Bob was born in 1918 on the very ranch where I grew up, the north-west part of the Frio Canyon and as of a few years ago the old house was still standing.

Bob still lives on his ranch in the north part of Real County, tells stories and takes his friends on hog hunts.

Joe Moffett

The Moffett Ranch joined the ranch where I grew up. I remember seeing Joe and his dad mounted on mules or horses. With a few hog dogs trailing along behind, they ventured across the hills hunting the hogs that lunched on their livestock. Today, Joe is 92 years old and still runs traps catching every hog he can!

Four Generations of Hog Hunting

R. L. Hubbard
R.L. Hubbard, born in 1909 in Menard, Texas moved his young family to the Frio Canyon in 1942. From an early age, R. L. took part in the hog drives to the rail heads and then became an avid hog hunter.

L. V. Hubbard
L.V., like his dad loves to hunt and run the hogs. L. V. not only hunts and traps hogs but guides hunts as well.

Langtry Hubbard
Langtry is the third Hubbard to use hog hunting and guiding as a means of support for his family.

Heidi and Wyldon Hubbard
As 4th generation hog hunters, Heidi (age 7) and Wyldon (age 5) are following in the footsteps of their ancestors both have already bagged their first hog. The children of Langtry and Amy Hubbard, they are learning the art of trapping and hunting hogs at an early age. These two young hunters are delighted to go with their dad to check traps and hunt hogs. Of course at their young age gun and hunter safety is a must as it is for most country kids.

Davis Robertson

Davis Robertson used to hunt on the H. W. Lewis Ranch, north of Leakey, the same ranch where Bob Ramsey was born. My dad, Alton Kirkpatrick, leased the upper Lewis ranch and it was there that I spent my growing up days. In an old photo, a small pig was shown, which was bayed by hog dogs and killed with a 30-30. I am quite sure that this hog had to have been related to some of the hogs that ended up on our dinner table.

Davis is descended from A. G. Weston, an early settler to the Frio Canyon. A. G. Weston owned several businesses in Leakey during the early 1900’s. Today, Davis owns and operates the Robertson Feed Store, a must in a ranching and hunting community and a continuation of family tradition. A photo of Davis and the hog hangs on the wall in the feed store.

Woodrow & Huey McCarson

This story is from an interview with Woodrow and Huey McCarson. Woodrow and Huey are descended from lion hunters in Africa but they don’t let this stand in their way of treeing and occasional coon or possum. What they don’t understand is their friend Bob’s aversion to them hunting pigs. They know that if they could go on a real hog hunt just one time that they would make old Bob proud but old Bob just won’t let them near a pig of any kind.

One day, much to their surprise, Bob loaded them up in his old beat up Ford F150 and to top it all off they never got to ride in the bed of the truck like other dogs. They had to ride in the back seat on an old blanket. They would certainly enjoy the wind blowing in their ears and jumping at tree limbs as Bob would drive through the pastures. They knew that these pleasures they would never know. Rascal, the Blue Tick from down the road, had told them of his adventures from the bed of the truck but Bob really didn’t even want them associating with Rascal. He said that Rascal had ticks and fleas and never bathed but could he tell a great story.

The day started out as a usual day of feeding cubes and counting cows and calves. On the way back to the main house, Bob suddenly hit the brakes and Woodrow and Huey hit the floor board. What could have caused this unusual behavior in Bob? Woodrow and Huey were scrambling, trying to get their footing when Bob opened the door and yelled, “Sic’em!” Well, to these two Rhodesian Ridgebacks it was like yelling, “Soup’s on!” And then Bob yelled those glorious words, “Get the pig!” While Woodrow was trying to get his best “bay” out it was Huey who bailed over him and grabbed the unsuspecting hogzilla but before Bob could utter, “That’s good!” Huey had that stunned five pound shoat in his mouth and had jumped right back into the back seat of the truck. Now Huey could not grin back at Bob as long as he had that pig in his mouth so he dropped the little squealer and grinned and howled delightfully. Bob on the other hand was in shock. He had two large hounds in the back seat baying to high heaven and a loose pig under the seat.

Things were quite exciting in that truck for a few minutes. Can you just imagine two Rhodesian Ridgebacks baying in harmony, a frightened 5 pound porker squealing the high notes and a very upset Bob not knowing what to do next?

All ended well when Bob captured the monster pig, Woodrow and Huey settled down on their blanket feeling pleased as punch and Joan, Bob’s wife was none too happy with any of them for now she had a baby pig to bottle. Woodrow and Huey dreamed happy thoughts that night and could not wait to meet up with Rascal and share their hog story with him.

Now I admit, I have been on a few hog hunts just because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think that I will take up live trapping the hogs. Yep, I will use my unsuspecting friend, Jim Nelson as the bait. Jim is from Wyoming and he really wants a baby Javalina. I will just tell him to sit in this big hog catching pen and when the Javalina come in he can just sneak up behind one and nab it. He will never know that the feral hogs will get to the feed pen first! This should be fun and entertaining and I know that the video will sell. Jim and his brother Andy have their own pig roping story but then again it will be on another page somewhere!

It is time to end this little pig tale. Since I am a cowboy poet I would like to bring this all to a close with this poem written by the 1949—1951 Texas Poet Laureate, Carlos Ashley. The poem is from his book “That Spotted Sow and other Texas Hill Country Ballads.” The book, published in 1941, is now out of print.

That Spotted Sow
The Ballad of Cedar Mountain

By Carlos Ashley

Did you ever hear the story
Of that famous hog of mine?
She’s a razorback and spotted
Black and white from hoof to spine.

With a snout made outa granite,
She can root just like a plow;
And the fence ain’t been invented
That can turn that spotted sow.

Born and bred on Cedar Mountain
She is wilder than a deer;
And she’s known by reputation
To the ranch hands far and near.

Though a sow of mine had raised ‘er,
On that mountain she was free;
And I always kinda doubted
That she really b’longed to me.

She didn’t claim no owner—
Save the God who put ‘er there—
And for mortal man’s relations
She just simply didn’t care.

She preferred the solemn silence
Of her Cedar Mountain home,
And most of all she wanted us
To let ‘er plum alone.

Ever Fall I’d try to mark ‘er
But she’d get away agin;
And I reckon that my cussin,
Though artistic, was a sin.

Well, I sold my brand in ’30-
Moved out ever hog and cow;
Rounded-up…yea…all but one head,
All but that blamed spotted sow.

So we organized against ‘er—
Got the best of dogs and men’
But we never got good started
Putting that hog in a pen.

Now we really went a-huntin
When we tried to catch Ole Spot;
We left the ranch at daylight
And her trail was always hot.

She might be pickin acorns
On the banks of Sandy Creek.
Or in somebody’s turnips
Cultivatin, so to speak.

But let the foot of dog or man
Disturb the morning dew.
And you might as well a phoned ‘er,
Cause somehow she always knew.

She’d light out for Cedar Mountain
Where the land and sky divide
There ain’t no spot on earth nowhere
A better place to hide.

We’d hear the pack a-bayin
Up the mountain loud and clear.
But before we rode up to ‘em
That ole sow would disappear

Or she’d rally ‘gainst a boulder,
Bristlin like a porcupine,
Till a dog forgot his caution
Then she’d cut him into twine.

Killin dogs was just a pastime
To that hog; I’m tellin you
With them long, curved, knife like tushes
She could slice a houn in two.

She could whip most any critter
On four legs I ever saw
And she had a perfect record
Cause she never fought a draw.

Now the more I tried to catch her
And the more I give it thought
I begin to get the notion
She’s opposed to bein’ caught

I couldn’t help admire that sow.
When all was done and said
For, to tell the truth about ‘er
She was really thoroughbred.

She had character and courage
And the heart to do the right
And when it come to fightin
Now she shore as hell could fight.

Well, the Fall froze into Winter
And the Winter thawed to Spring
April watered hill and valley
Maytime painted ever’thing

Late one evenin just at sundown
I was ridin home right slow,
When I passed a lonesome waterhole
And saw…..it was a show.

Ole Spot was trailin down the hill
And right behind her trotted
Ten baby pigs not ten days old
And ever one was spotted.

I stopped and stared, she studied me
My eyes filled like a fountain’
And there I gave ole Spot a deed
A deed to Cedar Mountain

Now I was taught that folks who try
You oughta help and praise em
So, “Boys,” I sez, “Ole spots’ got pigs,
And, damn sure gonna raise ‘em.

She’s still on Cedar Mountain
Though I seldom see ‘er now.
You can bet that’s one dominion
Where the Queen’s a spotted sow.

Permission to use Mr. Ashley’s poem given by his son, Carlos Ashley, Jr.

Th-th-that’s all folks!

Hog Drives of the Frio Canyon
Part I "Git Along Little Piggy"

Part II “This Little Piggy Stayed Home”

Part III “Here a Pig, There a Pig”

© Linda Kirkpatrick
Somewhere in the West
March 10, 2008 Column

Related Topics:
Texas Ranching
Texas Animals





































































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