Last Wednesday night we got one of the emails we'd been anticipating all summer. The subject line was only one word, "Hogs," but we knew what the message said before we even opened it.
During the beginning of our time here at Noble we were given a tour of several nearby farms owned by the Institute. We received the itinerary for the day ahead of time, and it was packed full of tours and demonstrations designed to show us more of what the Noble Research Institute Ag Division is involved in.
Although everyone had their own particular section they were excited to see, there was one demonstration on the schedule that everyone agreed would be interesting: Feral Hogs and the BoarBuster. We had heard talk about the BoarBuster trap around the office and had even heard a little about it from the creator himself, Josh Gaskamp, research associate, but this time we would finally be able to see it in action.
The Noble Research Institute farms, like many farms in Texas and southern Oklahoma, have a wild hog problem. One of the best ways to remove wild hogs is by using traps, but current traps on the market aren't cutting it when it comes to efficiency and effectiveness. Corral traps are somewhat easy to set up but catch fewer pigs than other methods, while drop nets are effective at catching wild hogs but are more time-consuming than any other method. Josh explained to us that the BoarBuster is a hybrid of these two types of traps, keeping the good from each one while eliminating the bad.
When we reached the section of the tour we had waited for, we approached a demonstration area on one of the farms where the BoarBuster was set up. The BoarBuster takes the circular shape of a corral trap but, when armed, it is suspended above the ground on three legs, poised and ready to fall like a drop net. The part that appealed to me and the other scholars was the fact that the trap was triggered through an Internet-connected trail cam. When movement happens underneath the trap, the camera sends a message to Josh's smartphone, allowing him to view the live stream and then allowing him to drop the trap at just the right time when the whole sounder, or family group of pigs, gets beneath the trap. We were able to see the trap in action during our tour, but what triggered the camera wasn't a sounder of pigs, instead it was one of our tour guides.
It was so interesting that Josh could simply press a button on his phone and let the trap drop to the ground. We all agreed it would be even cooler however, if we were able to see Josh actually catch some wild hogs in the trap. Josh assured us that when he caught a sounder, he'd let us know so we could help him round them up, and so the waiting began.
The morning after we received Josh's email we headed into work early, ready to go see what was waiting for us in the trap. I had seen some wild pigs before, but they were dead. These were much alive. The whole time we watched the hogs I was comparing them to my days of showing pigs in 4-H. I sure was glad those weren't the pigs I was walking around in the show ring. I don't imagine they'll taste as good as my show pigs either, but a few of the other scholars were daring enough to butcher one, and we're having a pig dinner later this week. I'll let you know how they taste.