I’m determined to stalk and kill a wild pig on public land. Judging by the pig tag return data, I’m probably not going to be successful. Too bad I’m stubborn.
The 2006-07 data shows that only 8% of returned tags were connected to pigs taken on public land, and that includes military bases. The Hog Blog quotes a base biologist saying “30% of the state’s pig harvest comes from Fort Hunter Liggett, Camp Roberts, or VAFB.” The math doesn’t totally work, either someone’s not filing pig tags, filing them incorrectly, or the biologist is wrong. I think it’s a fair bet to say that most of the 8% of public-land kills are on a military base.
Why do I want to get a public-land pig? Well, paying a guide or landowner $400 for access and another $300 for each pig taken is crazy! With travel costs, amortizing the equipment costs over a few years of hunting, and adding in processing costs, 80lbs of pig meat approaches $14/lb – and that’s assuming that every guided hunt will yield a pig. Now wild pig is yummy, but $14/lb buys me filet minon at Safeway.
I bought detailed topographic maps of all the areas near Santa Rosa. Combining the maps with Google Earth I can then figure out which land parcels are public and determine if there’s any road access to the land. Oh yeah, I bet you didn’t see that coming! There are nice juicy plots of public land that are ringed by private land and totally inaccessible. If by chance there’s accessible public land, I then look at the satellite photos and search for oak trees, or at least navigable terrain.
Cow Mountain is a big swath of BLM land East of Ukiah, CA. The South end of the park is designated as an off-highway vehicle park, so there are lots of Jeep trails and dirtbike paths. The North end of the park has a shooting range and is OHV-free, so that’s where we guess the pigs are. If you’ve been following along, you’ll recall that Brad and I hunted Cow Mountain previously with absolutely no success. Well, we spent more time looking at the maps and decided to try the Eastern half of the park. Our friend Jordon joined us.
Wild turkeys were hanging out by the trailhead. Too bad they weren’t pigs. The sun rose as we hiked into the park. It was a beautiful morning.
Clear Lake off in the distance.
Brad thought he saw something moving. It turned out to be a rabbit. I don’t know why Brad and Jordon are standing so close together, but they make a cute couple!
The trail is popular with hikers and horse riders. This is another reason it’s probably not so popular with the pigs.
Of course we didn’t get a pig. The Ukiah park rangers say they haven’t seen a pig at Cow Mountain in more than 15 years. All the guides and hunters we talk to have laughed when we tell them we’ve hunted Cow Mountain. We _constantly_ get the refrain “there ain’t no pigs at Cow Mountain!”. One guide told us that there are no pigs East of Highway 101.
That can’t be true, can it?