Unpredictable pigs will keep hunters guessing

Wild hogs captured by night vision camera

Pigs make white-tailed deer look stupid. It’s a fact that deer can become fairly predictable. Where you see them one day, you’ll more than likely see them the next in the same area, especially if you’re sitting in a blind watching a feeder. On the flip side, pigs are capable of being here, there and everywhere on any given day or night.

One way to keep track of pigs is to set up game cameras in areas that they frequent. Cody Bell, who has a Hill Country ranch covered up with pigs, has been hunting them for years, and based on what I’ve seen, he hasn’t put a dent in the population. And he’s put a lot on the ground.

“The main thing to remember is that pigs are almost totally nocturnal,” says Bell. “I keep game cameras at cattle tanks where I find lots of pig tracks. I’ve also got a few at feeders. When the pigs show up, I’m alerted by the game camera via my cell phone. It’ll show me a real-time photo of the pigs. It can happen any time day or night. But nine times out of 10, it’ll be from about 10 p.m. till just before daylight. It’s tough to get out of bed at 3 a.m. when the game cam goes off, grab my night vision gear and gun, and head out. In that situation, there’s a very good chance I’m going to get a shot at a pig. It’s always best to spread out some corn in areas where pigs are sighted. They will usually come back, but when is the big question.”

There are a whole lot of people, especially ranchers, who are not too happy about the number of pigs we have in Texas. They multiply like rabbits, and can absolutely tear up chunks of land and damage fences. But they are fun to shoot and very tasty. Plus, they offer year-round hunting.

Toyota ShareLunker Program announces 2018 season changes

For more than 30 years, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Toyota ShareLunker Program has partnered with anglers to enhance bass fishing in Texas. This year, the program is launching Jan. 1, 2018, with a new year-round participation season and more opportunities for anglers to get involved and be recognized for their contributions.

Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator, said, “This year for the first time ever anglers who catch a largemouth bass 8 pounds or larger can participate simply by providing important catch information for us to use to improve bass fisheries science. We will be recognizing and rewarding these anglers as well as those anglers who loan their lunker bass weighing 13 pounds or greater to our breeding program during the spawning season.”

The four new levels of achievement are:

• Lunker Legacy Class – Every angler that loans a 13-pound-plus bass to the Toyota ShareLunker program during the spawning period Jan. 1 to March 31 will join the prestigious Lunker Legacy Class. These valuable fish are an integral piece of the Toyota ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program and anglers will be eligible for a prize package commensurate with the importance of sharing their lunker. Each Lunker Legacy Class angler will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programing at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker prize drawing to win a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. These anglers will also be entered into the Legacy Class Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license at the end of the spawning period March 31.

• Lunker Legend Class • Anglers who enter a 13-pound or larger largemouth bass Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will become a part of the Lunker Legend Class. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ decal to display their achievement, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker prize drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

Lunker Elite Class – Anglers catching double-digit largemouth bass 10 to 12.99 pounds Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will become a part of the Lunker Elite Class. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 10lb+ decal to display their achievement, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker prize drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

• Lunker Class – Anglers entering largemouth bass at least 8 pounds or 24 inches Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will be recognized at the Lunker Class level. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, an 8lb+ decal to display their achievement, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker prize drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

Starting Jan. 1, anglers will now be able to quickly enter their catch on their phone using the new Toyota ShareLunker mobile application, which will be available for free download in the iTunes app store and on Google play or online on the new Toyota ShareLunker website, texassharelunker.com. The digital entry forms will allow anglers to easily submit photos of the fish being properly measured, weighed and held. Other entry criteria will be detailed on the website and mobile application Jan. 1, the official start of the new yearlong season.

In addition to providing information and photos of their fish, anglers will also be able to provide a genetic sample of their largemouth bass by collecting and sending fish scales to TPWD using simple instructions from the app and website. These data will help fisheries biologists evaluate the impact of the ShareLunker breeding and stocking program in the gene pool.

“Monitoring the impact of ShareLunker stockings is critical to evaluating the success of the program,” Brookshear said. “That’s why the citizen scientist piece is so important – we need anglers to help us better understand the populations of our biggest bass in Texas and we are excited to offer exciting prizes in exchange for providing us with the information and genetic material from their lunker catches.”

Hatcheries staff will also attempt to spawn all eligible ShareLunkers 13 pounds or larger donated between Jan. 1 and March 31. Offspring of female genetic intergrades will be combined and stocked back to the source locations for all ShareLunker entries for the year, and genetically pure offspring will be maintained at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens and eventually distributed to all TPWD production hatcheries to be used as brood stock for statewide largemouth bass stockings.

“Our goal is for all hatchery-held Florida largemouth bass brood stock to eventually be the descendants of ShareLunkers,” Brookshear said. “Increasing the percentage of ShareLunker offspring being introduced into Texas waters is an important part of increasing the lunker genetic potential in the state. We are incredibly grateful for anglers who choose to loan us these valuable fish and we are looking forward to continuing our efforts to make Texas fishing bigger and better with the selective breeding program.”

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