Are you ready for some death from above?
“Pork choppers,” Texas’ newest weapon in the war on feral hogs, will take to the skies Thursday when it [became] legal for hunters to buy seats on hog-hunting helicopters and gun down as many pigs as they can put in their sights.
With more than 2 million feral hogs rooting around the Lone Star State, there will be plenty of targets for aerial gunners willing to pay $475 for an hour of heli-hunting.
Vertex Helicopters is already bringing home the bacon as a result of the measure passed by the Texas Legislature this year.
The Houston-based firm requires shooters to take a $350 hunting safety course before they can book a hunt, said President Mike Morgan, a former Army helicopter pilot.
And as far as I know, none of that money is going to the state. I had said before that we should look at this as a revenue opportunity, but the Lege wasn’t listening to me.
In 2010, 14,811 hogs were killed through the program statewide. Airborne gunners dispatched 17,743 hogs in 2009 and 18,578 in 2008, said Harmony Garcia, who handles the 150 or so active aerial permits for the parks and wildlife agency.
“People have been waiting for this. It’s going to be interesting,” she said.
Remember, that’s out of an estimated 2 million plus hogs. This may have an effect in some localities, but it’s far from a solution.
Even from 50 feet up in the air, shooting a 300-pound hog that is running 35 mph out of a helicopter that is going between 30 and 65 mph is no easy feat, Morgan said.
“Most people can’t hit the target. We’ve found that less than 15 percent of the rounds hit the target. It’s a huge eye-opener, actually it’s a punch in the gut, because these people are serious shooters,” he said.
Helicopter hunting is also risky, Morgan said.
“It’s incredibly dangerous; it’s probably the most dangerous method of hunting out there,” he said. “You’re shooting semiautomatic assault rifles out of a helicopter at altitudes of about 50 feet. There are some major risks here. We can mitigate some of the risk by training people properly.
“You’re going to have two types of hunters: cowboys and pros. The pros take things seriously; the cowboys don’t give a crap as long as they get to shoot something.
“Our goal is to make sure we don’t have a bunch of cowboys jumping in helicopters and going, ‘Yeehaw.’”
Just as a reminder, this is what it looks like. Something tells me there will be a lot of the latter regardless. Hey, it’s legal and it’s their money. If they fall out of the helicopter, it was all part of the adventure.