Back in May, I and about a thousand others reported on the giant pig that 11-year-old Jamison Stone killed in Alabama. It weighed in at 1,051 pounds, was photographed by a newspaper and was reportedly a wild boar.
The first reaction by everyone was that it was a hoax. Of course that was also the first reaction to Hogzilla, a giant hog killed in Georgia, but when investigators dug up the carcass they discovered it was indeed an outlandishly oversize hog. It wasn't quite as big as first claimed, but it was indeed humongous.
Turns out that the Alabama pig really was as big as claimed, but that's where the truth in the story ended. Field & Stream, the venerable hunting and fishing magazine, reports that the 11-year-old really did kill the pig, but there were several key facts that the "hunting guide" failed to tell anyone. Number one, the hog was killed on a fenced hunting preserve, and number two, it was so tame its previous owner had named it. The owner of the preserve bought Fred the pig from a farm four days before the hunt, invited the local newspaper to tag along, and took the little boy and his father straight to the giant pig. In other words, the "hunt" was roughly akin to what farm boys experience every November at hog-killin' time. They walk out to the hog lot, pull out the .22 and start the process of converting pig to pork.
Now the boy and his dad apparently didn't know the pig was a farm animal when they hunted it, but they certainly knew it was a game preserve because it charged by the pound for pigs killed.
This once again points out the unsavory practice of canned hunts, in which animals are confined on fenced farms and "hunters" pay big bucks to go out and take target practice on tame animals. The most notorious of these in recent memory was the case of Troy Gentry of the country music group Montgomery-Gentry, who pleaded guilty to shooting a tame bear with a bow and arrow, and then tagging it as though he had killed it in the wild. Presumably Gentry, the pretty-boy half of the music duo, was trying to improve his redneck credentials by pretending to be a brave hunter who tracked down a dangerous bear in the wilderness with only his trusty bow. Too bad the wilderness in this case was a three-acre woodlot surrounded by an electric fence, and the bear had the suspicously cuddly name of "Cubby."
(You're a real macho man, Troy. Maybe you should dump Eddie Montgomery and join The Village People. )
While Gentry's action was illegal, what the Alabama game farm did was perfectly legal. However, it was about at unethical as anything I can think of. Canned hunts not only take away the dignity of the animals, they damage the reputations of all hunters. The owner of the preserve should have to pay not only cruelty to animals, but cruelty to that little boy for the ridicule he's had to suffer for his prize pig.
As a side note, Field & Stream has a quiz this month to see whether you can tell the difference between a wild boar and a farm pig. If you plan to hunt in Alabama, it might come in handy.