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October 12, 2013

MATT WILLIAMS: Bringing home the bacon

Jasper Co. archer connects with 536-pound feral hog

Athens — Like many of Texas' 100,000-plus bowhunters, Ray Lenderman of Jasper spent opening weekend of the state's Archery Only deer season high up a tree in hopes of bringing home some venison. He wound up with a trailer load of pork instead.

Lenderman, a Texas Parks and Wildlife fisheries technician, arrowed a whale of a feral pig on the second morning of bow season, which got underway on Sept. 28. Field dressed, the pig weighed 536 pounds on a butcher scale in Diboll. He is certain the animal would have topped 600 pounds on the hoof.

“There's no doubt about it,” Lenderman said. “I've heard about 600 pound hogs all my life, but I'd never seen one until now. Its back was waist high on me.”

Lenderman found the first evidence of the heavyweight hog a couple of weeks before the season opener when he discovered its huge tracks in the vicinity of one of his three corn feeders. He said the tracks easily measured five inches across.

“I laid my pocket knife across it and it fit inside the track with room to spare,” he said. “It was as big as a cow track. I was pretty sure it was a hog, but I took some video and did a little research on the Internet just to make sure. We're covered up with hogs on my lease. I never saw a deer all weekend. Those hogs have been hammering my feeders and this ol' sow had been getting more than her share.”

Lenderman actually saw the hog at one of his feeders on the afternoon before deer season got underway. He said he rode his ATV to within 50 yards of the feeder before the hog ran off and melted into the brush.

“It was solid white,” he said. “It was almost like I was looking at a cow standing there. That's how big it was.”

Lenderman spent several hours in his ladder stand on opening morning but never saw anything worthy of unleashing an arrow. His luck changed on Sunday morning when the big white pig merged from some brush and settled in at his corn feeder.

“It was right after a storm had passed,” Lenderman said. “It was still thundering all around and the pig was acting pretty skittish. I watched it for several minutes waiting for a good quarter shot. I knew there was no way I'd ever be able to penetrate that shoulder plate.”

The pig eventually offered Lenderman the shot he wanted and he took it. He drilled the hog behind the shoulder. The broadhead made good penetration, but the arrow didn't pass all the way through. He said the hog ran about 30 yards and fell over dead.

Shortly thereafter Lenderman said he made an interesting discovery. When he checked the sex of hog, he determined it was a sow (female), not a boar (male) or a “barr,” which is a male hog that has been castrated and released back into the wild. Many hog experts say barr hogs typically grow much faster and larger than a boar and that they make much better table fare.

“She also had some pretty good tusks on her,” Lenderman said.

Soon after killing the hog, Lenderman said he got word that a landowner adjacent to his lease had been feeding out a big hog to butcher, and that the hog had torn out its pen and escaped about a month earlier. Lenderman said he contacted the landowner by phone to inquire about the gender and color of that animal.

“He told me what he had was a barr and that it was white,” Lenderman said. “If that's the case then there is another giant hog running around out there somewhere. The hog I killed didn't have any male body parts, but it did have female body parts. There is no doubt in my mind what I killed was a big ol' sow.”

Girl pig or boy pig, Lenderman's fat swine made plenty of bacon. So much he didn't think twice about sharing it with friends and family.

“There was way more than my freezer would hold,” he joked. “The back straps on that thing were a good four feet long and 10 inches wide. Heck, one guy even took home about 100 pounds of trimmings to make tamales with. Nothing went to waste on this deal.”

Matt Williams is a freelance writer based in Nacogdoches. He can be reached by e-mail, mattwilliams@netdot.com.

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