Texans dislike feral hogs. Some even pay cash for a chance to shoot them. Although, the draw may be less about shooting the pests and more about doing so from a helicopter.
While it sounds like overkill, helicopters are an effective tool for culling hog populations. Plus, people are happy to fork over cash for the experience.
“We get quite a bit of clientele from places like New York, California (and) Chicago, where the firearm laws are extremely restrictive,” said Chris Britt, co-founder of Helibacon in Bryan. “They come to Texas and the idea that you can shoot a machine gun in a helicopter is just mind-blowing to them. They think of it as the Wild West.”
Flight packages will run shooters between $2,000 and $8,000, depending on the number of participants. These prices generally include firearms and ammunition. Some even include meals and lodging.
Flights are in high demand; most companies have long waitlists.
While some people champion these helicopter hunts as the best means of managing hog populations, Texas Wildlife Services indicates they have only killed 2% of the state’s population.
“Helicopter hog hunting in and of itself does not reduce the total feral hog population by a very large amount,” Britt said, “but it can manage a regional area.”
“Texas is just a big place. If you talk to the local farms and ranchers that we do hunt for on a regular basis, they love us because they can definitely tell that it keeps the feral hog population in check in that area.”