Americans enjoy hunting both of their hog varieties. There are the wild boar, known as the ridgeback, and the wild pigs, domesticated breeds, gone feral. The wild boar grow to around 300lb and have a reputation for being aggressive. The feral pigs are much, much bigger.
We are going out for some feral hogs. My guide John has some property on Bayou Portage in the swamps of Louisiana that he says have been rife with them lately and we want to see if we can find a few of those.
We need to walk through the swamp to a high seat next to a wallow. First, Iâ€™m given my cowboy-style rifle. Itâ€™s a lever-action Marlin 30-30, one of the guns that won the West.
â€œPretty standard American lever action, loads in here, lever here so, just cowboy style, to load it lever out, lever in itâ€™s loaded,â€ says my guide John.
Johnâ€™s rifle is less cowboy, more militia. Itâ€™s a modern version of the SKS, a forerunner to Mikhail Kalashnikovâ€™s AK47: ideal for pigs, especially decadent American capitalist running-dog scum pigs.
With a slightly sicky feeling that keilers are hiding behind every tree, we head off. John says that the pigs are not scared by the torch beam â€“ they can even be attracted by it â€“ though their senses of smell and hearing are excellent.
â€œYouâ€™ll find a lot of times tracks along side these sluice where they have come into wallow, or water and often times if you check the clarity of the water you can tell how lately they have been in,â€ says John. â€œIf it is very, very cloudy they have been in wallowing cooling down from the hot sun recently. This water looks fairly clear.â€
â€œSo thatâ€™s why we are whispering?â€ I ask.
â€œWell Iâ€™m imagining they havenâ€™t been through here for a bit,â€ he replies, â€œso weâ€™ll check another couple of wallows and try and spot some tracks off them.â€
A few hundred yards in and if we get the unmistakable whiff of pig pee. John has been putting some old burger buns down and we can see they have been to this boggy Burger King. Suddenly, thereâ€™s a lot of noise and something is coming towards us, fast.
Both of us chamber around and raise our rifles. I feel a wave of immense relief tinged with disappointment when an armadillo breaks cover. I really thought we would be in touch with a pig there but quite relieved weâ€™re not.
America has big pigs. Really big pigs. And not all of them are called Bubba. There was one shot recently with a handgun by an 11-year-old lad in Alabama. A US record, it weighed more than 1,000lb. I am six feet four inches and can be easily impressed by a 5lb armadillo. Imagine how the kid felt.
John and I stalk through the swamp, which has a gumbo-like consistency. Gumbo is a local stew that tastes exactly like it sounds. Soon we reach an old duck hide, or â€˜blindâ€™ in American.
â€œSo weâ€™ve got a good 150 yards of visibility to take a shot on them,â€ says John, â€œand as soon as we see them break those bushes weâ€™ll hold off, give them a little time to get as close in front of us as we can, just stay trained on them the whole time, keep our scopes on them and as soon as they get close enough and weâ€™re comfortable taking that shot weâ€™ll put lights on them and fire away and see what weâ€™ve got.â€
We sit and wait, and we wait, then John reckons its time to go and see the boar face to face
After the little scare earlier on, the approaching armadillo, John thinks itâ€™s a good idea that we go after them on foot. Brilliant.
Another wild pig hamburger joint, but this one looks undisturbed. John reckons we will have to put tonight down as unlucky.
So we got to the end point, feeling a bit defeated by duck, bit beaten by boar, they havenâ€™t touched the bait, but you cannot beat the excitement of stalking up on something that could easily be stalking up on you. Itâ€™s not a lion or a tiger, itâ€™s a pig, but itâ€™s a great big thing in a very dark wood and itâ€™s absolutely brilliant.
To watch our film, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJITUK6RTxI
(Main image from Image from http://agrilife.org/)