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The “Sounder” Challenge

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This story that I am presenting could be part two of a multiple-entries affair! I was hoping that by the time I got around to giving you all another story, dealing with those pesky hogs would have been a done deal. But alas, it was not meant to be (yet). I have not given up on the fight, and it has been quite the educational experience, just trying to learn about ‘them” enough to get the upper hand on the situation.

I suppose that the Hernando Sun’s outdoor huntsman (Mr. Toby Benoit) has been dealing with the feral hogs for a lot more years than I have (and he should get a grin from reading about my ordeal). I did find out through multiple “Google” inquiries that a group of swine (such as what I am going up against) is actually called a “sounder.” Why they are called this is probably an issue worthy of its own story (but not now).

The term is very similar to what I am looking at in the way of its structure and size. There are usually two mature sows (female hogs), a bunch of their babies (which, at last count, was about eight of them), and a visiting “boar” (or adult male) hog. Once again, this statistic is accurate.
Now, during the educational part of this adventure, I have had some very helpful information come by way of relatives on my wife’s sister’s husband’s side. (I’ll call this my “theory of relativity”)! The Hope family has been a part of the history of these parts of Florida, and they have forgotten more about hunting and fishing than I have learned in my 60-plus years on this blue planet. Mr. Bob (Sport, or as his parishioners may call him, “Pastor”) Hope gave me a nugget of information that has been a great help in the task of getting all these critters to return to a set spot during this time of putting my wits against theirs. He (Pastor Bob) said to try putting “Kool-Aid” on the corn to keep them coming back.
Well, I didn’t have the kiddie drink, so I substituted it with a generic Walmart brand pancake syrup! So far, they seem to be liking it enough to return each night. A few nights back, I thought that I had the right trap for catching a few of them at a time. Those hogs had somehow sprung the trap now multiple times, and the raccoons and ‘possums setting it off just lengthened the ordeal.

The addition of a dedicated trail camera allowed me to see where I was not done modifying the rig. The pictures show the trapping of six of the little varmints but do not tell the whole story of the night. I stayed home that night and was planning on checking out the borrowed trap at first light. When I got to it that morning, the door was down, but the cage was empty. The SD card from the camera told the story of all eight small pigs trying to fit into the trap. The small rope that stretched across the trap (from side to side) was finally stepped on within the first five minutes. The door swung down, pushing two of the pigs out and locking six of them inside. What happened in the next 15 minutes was the big surprise. One by one, five of the six pigs climbed up the boxed steel structure and squeezed out of the top openings (no more than 5 inches squared). The last oinker must not have been as athletic (or smart) as he stayed in there until 6:15 that morning. His last show on the trail cam was at 6:18 (and I rolled up to the trap at 7:15)! Upon reviewing the recorded events of that earlier morning, two thoughts popped up in my mind. First, it was time for some smaller-diameter cage steel to be applied. Second, this was starting to remind me of those Saturday morning cartoons with Elmer Fudd trying to capture Bugs Bunny! Since then, I (and a fellow church congregant named Rick Daughety) have sat for a couple of nights now at the back area of the church property, waiting for signs of the return.

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A fellow congregant (and friend) named John Weipz loaned me a “Flir” (thermo optic scope). Last night (7/9/23), Rick and I thought we were in luck. As we headed to the trap (to check out a heat signature jumping up and down), we flashed some light on the thing in time to see a big ‘possum exit into the woods. We still had our hopes set that the bigger large animal containment device (which I lovingly refer to as the “Piggy Palace”) would do what it was intended to do.

At about 1:20 am, some small animal got in the path of the security system on that part of the building, and it blasted out multiple flood light beams, illuminating the whole field! (RATS)!! So, I assumed that the now lit-up area meant the end of the feeding routine for this “sounder.” I said goodbye to Rick and headed home. Having gotten just enough sleep to allow me to feel human (from 2:45 to 7:45), I got up and checked out the trail cam app on my “smart” phone. There were over 200 separate pictures of ALL 13 OF THOSE PIGS chowing down on pancake syrup-flavored corn! Now I must leave this story as it is, being that the editor likes me to have my offerings on her machine by Tuesday. I am hoping that next week, I can complete this portion of piggy palace pranks and provide proof of positive perseverance practices! Y’all have a blessed week. I’m gonna try to “bring home the bacon!”

Steven Goodwin
Steven Goodwin
Steve Goodwin is a recently retired Christian conservative veteran (of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division), who still feels that "duty to country" did not end when the military uniform got hung up. He and his wife Cecelia live on the edge of a beautifully wooded tract of land just south of the bypass, and are involved in not only church activities, but also attend school board meetings and local community action events as well.
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