July 4, 2021
1,436 words – 7 minute read
Today is one of my favorite holidays- Independence Day. The word “independence” explains why so many people love celebrating this great holiday.
But the title of this post talks about catching wild hogs. How does that correlate? I’ll explain. Sometimes one must show the opposite of one thing to make clear the real thing he wants to prove. That’s my point in this blog post. I want to tell you the dependence of a herd of wild hogs in my story.
This is a true story. It happened the winter after I turned ten years old and my Daddy and Mother gave me a .410 gage Stephens single barrel shotgun for my birthday that year.
The story involves my Granddaddy Jay Sinclair (The best granddaddy anyone could dream of having), my first cousin, who was like a brother, my brother, David, and me.
How the story came to be: There was a group of river-bottom farmers who had their representative come visit Granddaddy Jay. He told Granddaddy that the farmers were experiencing tremendous expense and labor trying to get rid of a herd of wild hogs that were destroying their new crops, but also causing much damage to the land itself with the huge holes they made, plus other problems.
The representative, who I’ll call Mr. H., went on to tell Granddaddy they had tried everything to get rid of the hogs. They had hired many men who would attempt to shoot the hogs with rifles, but as soon as a few hogs were killed, the rest of the herd escaped back into the woods where they usually lived.
Then Mr. H. said someone told the group about a man who lived about 50 miles away who had a pen full of hog-dogs who specialized in killing wild hogs. So the group hired this man at a large fee to come and kill out these pesky wild hogs and solve their problems. Then Mr. H. told Granddaddy that he would not believe what happened next. Now we three grandsons were there listening to Mr. H’s sad story and we saw Granddaddy spit a big dip of snuff out on the ground and began nodding in the affirmative as though he knew exactly how that fiasco turned out.
Mr. H. then told Granddaddy what Granddaddy already knew. That those wild hogs killed every one of the hog-dogs. And Mr. H. then said that cost them a lot of money paying for all those dead dogs.
And this is where our story begins: Mr. H. told Granddaddy that several people told the group that he had been recommended highly as the only person who had experience capturing wild hogs that they knew of.
Then Mr. H. asked Granddaddy if he would take the job. Granddaddy asked Mr. H. several questions, and told Mr. H. that he and us grandsons would take the job. Then there was some negotiating about how much money Granddaddy wanted for accepting the job. Mr. H. agreed to the price and told Granddaddy that if that was not enough money the group would gladly pay more. Granddaddy said, “No, that’s all the money we need.”
That very day Granddaddy Jay and us three grandsons went to the fields that Mr. H. had told Granddaddy about. Granddaddy drove all around the edges of the fields up next to the wooded areas and was telling us, grandsons, as he drove. what we would have to do to catch the wild hogs. Finally, he got to a certain spot and said, “This is where we’ll build the pen.”
At that point, Granddaddy headed back home and explained the plan to us boys. Gosh, it sounded so exciting. And believe me, it was. Not only was their excitement about catching the hogs and all of us making extra money, but the main thing was the lesson Granddaddy told us about after our task was finished. It was a lesson we all would remember until our dying day. Unfortunately, my first cousin and my brother, David, have already gone to heaven. I’m the only one left from the group alive to pass the lesson on. And I have told this story or written about it at every opportunity. I think this lesson will impact you, too, till your dying day.
The work begins. Granddaddy told us that the hardest part of the job would be gathering all the saplings to make the pen. He knew a man not far from where we lived that had a huge thicket of tall saplings that we could have for free. Our equipment consisted of Granddaddy’s long handle double-bit ax. We three boys would take turns at chopping the tall saplings down and trimming all the limbs off up to the trunk. It was not easy work. We three boys realized years later that Granddaddy could have chopped all those saplings down and chopped off the limbs by himself much faster than we did it. But we thought maybe he was wanting to teach us what hard work was. But no, he told us that we had made a contract with Mr. H. and that it had to be honored by all four of us working or we would be dishonest.
We finally got all the saplings cut to length and had to make many trips to the pen location in Granddaddy’s short-bed, half-ton pickup truck.
Once the saplings were delivered we began building the pen. Granddaddy had to dig all the deep holes with his big posthole diggers. It took two or three days to get the pen built.
As soon as the pen was built, Granddaddy went to a nearby feed store and bought a truckload of shelled corn in 50-pound bags. Then we went straight to the pen. Granddaddy said now we are going to scatter some of this corn all around the pen. Which we did about 50 feet away from the closest part of the pen.
The next day we returned to the pen to see what Granddaddy told us would happen. All the corn had been eaten by the hogs. Then Granddaddy said we would scatter the corn closer to the pen and around the gate area of the pen this time. We obediently did what Granddaddy told us to do.
The following day we returned to the pen and again all the corn had been eaten by the hogs. This time we piled the corn up in a pile just on the outside of the gate to the pen.
The next day, you guessed it, all the corn had been eaten by the hogs. On our way home from the pen, Granddaddy told us that the next day we would catch a bunch of hogs.
So the following day, as we approached the pen we could see that all the corn had again been eaten by the hogs.
Grandaddy told us to take all the corn that was left and scatter it all over the inside of the pen. We did so and Granddaddy said we’ll have to come over here real early in the morning because that pen will be very crowded with wild hogs. If they have to stay locked up they will get scared and break down the trap gate to get out.
The next day it was exactly as Granddaddy said, the pen was packed with wild hogs. To this day, I don’t know how all those hogs got inside that pen.
Granddaddy had notified Mr. H. the night before to have people there to start killing the hogs the next morning early.
While the hogs were milling about in the pen there was no way to count how many were caught inside the pen.
Our job was complete and Mr. H. Paid us in cash on the spot. Granddaddy was later told that there were over a hundred hogs shot and killed inside that pen.
As we drove away from the pen full of hogs Granddaddy said to us boys that we had made some pretty good money on our Christmas break from school.
But then he said something we would never forget. He said, “Boys, anytime animals or humans start depending on free stuff, their freedom is over.”
We did not fully understand that statement back then at our tender ages, but I sure understand it today.
God Bless You,
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