They're nasty, mean and do $400 million in economic damage to the state every year. No, they're not the dreaded chupacabra -- they're worse: feral hogs.
Sure, killin' 'em is necessary. But getting money for killin' 'em is necessary and fun, which is why Wulf Outdoor Sports of Center is paying out $28,000 in prizes for hunters who nab the most hogs between April 11 and 21. The contest is also sponsored by Farmers and Shelby Savings banks, Nikon and others.
The lucky devil who wastes the most hogs gets a cool $10,000, with the second-place winner getting $2,750 -- there are many other prizes, including $500/day for whoever brings in the most carcasses before noon. (And when we say carcasses, we mean it: All of the hairy, tusked beasts must be dead on arrival.)
All eligible hogs must come from an approved list of 20 counties, making this much bigger than last year's inaugural event, which included only six counties. (The winning team that year smote 154 of the smelly bastards.)
When we asked Wulf Marketing Director Virginia Solgot how judges could be sure the hogs came from just those counties, she told us, "We polygraph-test all of the winners." That's right -- they take this seriously. There are also random polygraph tests of all contestants, so let that be a warning!
Oh, and Solgot isn't just some hoity-toity marketing director; no, she does hands-on work as well, especially when it comes to marking the dead hogs, so judges know a hog isn't double-counted: Last year, Solgot says, "I cut the ears off myself, several times." She's quick to add, though, that "it's not near as gross as you think it is."
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The rules also state that "all hogs must be of feral origin. Any hog that does not meet the characteristics of a wild feral hog will not be accepted, and result in team disqualification." (This totally put an end to our otherwise ingenious scheme to raise several generations of our own hand-fed, domestic hogs and then just pass them off as feral.) Also, you can kill 'em however you like, as long as it's with legal weaponry. Solgot says one industrious potential hunter called last year asking if he could use hand grenades. We're guessing that sort of thing is frowned upon.
The contest wraps up with a wild hog cookoff/motorcycle rally/awards ceremony bash, with bands providing music to chew your bacon-wrapped, jalapeño-stuffed hog parts by. We're definitely going to be there.