Killing hogs with a 13-year-old boy

There are parts of Texas that are covered up with feral hogs and, as a consequence, big coyotes that feed on them. Landowners consider them nothing less than an Egyptian plague as hordes of hogs are hard on crops and can damage land as though they were giant moles. Coyotes are hard on game and cattle alike. And evidently you have to wipe out 70% of the hogs per year in order to maintain plague-level. 80% to reduce it.

As a result some hunters have gone professional and now take other hunters, would-be hunters, or just thrill seeking middle-aged men on hunting tours to help keep the population down.

What they have determined is that one of the most effective means of killing feral hogs and coyotes alike is hunting via helicopter. This is not news to hunters but was to myself when my two brothers recently treated me and our father to one such excursion. Hanging out the side door of a little helicopter whacking hogs and coyotes with an AR-15 is as close as I will ever get to Black Hawk Down.

On the last night we contracted with a local guide who took us on a stalking hunt across field and gully with 308 AR-15’s with Pulsar thermal scopes. Around 10pm we were joined by the landowner’s 13-year-old son who carried us in his little ATV dune-buggy-thingy to our starting point. Armed with his own thermal scope he joined us and helped us find our prey, who proceeded to die in a hail of inaccurate gunfire. The rain doesn’t have to be accurate to get you wet.

The young man was noteworthy for his good manners, calm demeanour, his ability to engage in casual conversation with adults, and his competence in all aspects of the hunt.

My assumption was that he was a true country boy, with his mind on the out-of-doors rather than a screen. I also assume that his father is a manly-man and his mother a feminine lady who are raising him intentionally together as man and wife. I also assume that the boy is growing up around men, and not just his peers at school.

Write your own segue here if you wish or just be jarred by my lack of one. High school should produce educated young adults. What it does not do is produce adults. Adults are produced by other adults and the right experiences, which could include high school. But I posit that for half of America’s high school students, high school is a colossal and soul-crushing waste of time that deforms and stunts their growth. Thus I suggest that over half of America’s fourteen-year-olds should be graduated after eighth grade and allowed to enter the world of adults as young men and women who are expected to grow up.

Graduating after eighth grade need not close a single door to any young American. And for some simply becoming an adult, around adults, will be the best preparation for college for those young men and women that eventually pursue that most overrated of modern preoccupations. But that is another story.

M.C. Atkins

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