Thursday, May 25, 1938
When we came to Pyles Mountain thirteen years ago, a heavy crop of mast fell most every fall, and bands of wild hogs roamed the woods, fattening on the mast. Almost every family had a sow they depended on for their crop of hogs.
L. W. Gaylor had such a sow.
She farrowed in the woods, while she was tame enough at times, coming in to eat now and then, she always taught her offspring to fear and shun mankind. She never brought her pigs in with her, and they had to be caught while young or shot down like bears when they were grown and fat.
One year, we bought two of these pigs for fall killing hogs. They weighed about 20 pounds each, had long legs, rangy body, black as tar and had ears that reminded one of those of the elephant. We got them in the fall and set about to tame them. By spring we could pet them and they would come when called at feeding time, so we turned them on the range.
They came up nicely all summer for feed, and we could pet them, but they gave strangers wide berth. We were advised to pen the pigs before mast fell, but we thought we had them so tame that nuts would have no effect on them. We did not have a very good crop either, so we thought to let them fatten on mast and then harden the meat with a finish up on corn.
All this goes to show we did not know our wild hogs.
The heavier the mast, the less we saw of those hogs around the feed trough. They showed up two or three times a week for a while, and then came the week when they failed to come in at all. We went out and decoyed the pigs in with some corn.
The barrow went into the pen but the sow would not go near it. As it was getting dark, we closed the pen and knocked off for the night, thinking she would hang around and we could get her in when morning came.
We retired, sure in mind that our winter’s meat was in the bag, so to speak.
Around 11 o’clock we were awakened by a mighty noise at the hog pen. As fast as we could move, the pigs were faster. When we got there, the hogs were across the run and taking up the mountain. Giving their boo-boo, they vanished in the night. In effecting the release of the penned barrow, the sow had ripped, with her mouth, inch boards from the doors as if it were so much paper.
We were advised to shoot the hogs on sight, but did not like to do that as we wanted more meat on them.
Our idea was to catch them with dogs when the snows came. When the first snow fell we gathered a crowd and started hog hunting, with the community’s brag shepherd dog to do the catching. He had a number one record as a stock dog and hog catching was right up his alley, to use a slang phrase.
The hogs were jumped on Seebert Ridge, and went down in Chickenhouse in a big laurel patch. The dog was put after them and he took the trail on high. I do not know what happened down in the run where the dog came up with the hogs, but I do know there was a mighty fuss going on, and before we could get down there we met the dog coming back faster than he had gone down. Both hogs were nipping at his tail. When the hogs saw the men, they turned back into the laurel out of sight. That dog had a look on his face that said there were two things he hated, and wild hogs were both of them.
The barrow was never seen alive again, but the sow was seen a year later with six forty-pound shoats with her. No one around here ever saw them afterwards. It was said they had their stamping ground over on Rock Run and in the Burnside Ridge country.
A year or two after the hogs pulled out of these woods, a lot of the neighbors were over on Burnside Ridge after an old sheep killing bear. Ernest Burr had taken a stand on the point of a big ridge during the drive. Just about as he was giving up hope of a break coming his way for a shot, he heard a big animal coming around the side of the ridge. He got a glimpse, and it looked like a bear. It was as big as one, but a bear should have come down the ridge instead of around the side.
Friend Ernest did not know what it was, but he had a way to find out, so he pumped a magazine of 30 30s when it came into his sights. When they run by Ernest, everything is over but the skinning. When he examined his kill, he was surprised to find he had a 500-pound hog.
Alfred Dean and Woods Gaylor identified it as our hog by the ear mark.
While they were discussing how they were going to get the meat out of the woods, a man came up on the hog’s track. He was surprised to find they had killed it. He said he had followed it the day before and all that morning. They gave him the head for his trouble, and cut out the rest of the meat and carried it to an old house on Henry’ Burr’s place. We went over the next morning and got a ham and a side and divided the rest among the gang.
Woods said the ham he carried seemed to weigh 100 pounds. It was fat as mud, but oily. The hide was a thing of beauty, black, glossy and slick.
Most of the wild hogs went with the chestnut. I do not know whether there are any left on Rock Run or not. If they are all gone, probably that fellow who was tracking the big one could tell us something about them.