COLORADO COUNTY, Texas – A 13-year-old took out a 400-pound feral hog with a single shot in February after he and his father went to help a rancher who said the animal was costing him thousands of dollars.
Steve Neece, an insurance agent from Hallettsville who eradicates feral hogs as a side hustle, told KSAT he and his son Scout were out at a private cattle ranch near Weimer in Colorado County around midnight on Feb. 28 when they spotted the huge hog.
“We got within 100 yards of the hog and he [Scout] put a really good shot on it and that was all she wrote,” Neece told KSAT in an interview. “You have a very small window to shoot a hog that size. One shot, one kill. It’s very uncommon. That size, you’re normally going to shoot and they’re going to run.”
Neece said he has been taking Scout out hunting with him ever since he was 3 and now “he’s old enough now to handle a weapon safely and responsibly.”
The father-son duo were using the latest thermal scope technology called Halo LR which is manufactured in the U.S. by N-Vision Optics. Neece shared several photos with KSAT, including images from the thermal scope. Scout used an AR-15 rifle with a 7.62x39-caliber round.
Neece said hogs are really intelligent and told KSAT that they’re reaching incredible sizes because the feral hogs are eating the feed supplement ranchers are giving to their cattle and high-quality proteins that deer hunters are feeding to their deer.
“The main thing I want people to know is that Texans need to consider these things pests," said Neece. “Think of it like a cockroach in your kitchen - you’re not going to leave it, you’re going to take it out. These hogs are a non-native species in Texas and they’re doing millions of dollars in damage every year.”
Because hogs are an invasive species in Texas, they have no natural predators and reproduce at high rates.
The killing of feral hogs without a license became legal as of Sept. 1, 2019, under Senate Bill 317. Neece said that 15 years ago “there were probably a dozen of us around here eradicating hogs. Now everybody’s doing it.”
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension estimates there are 2.6 million feral hogs in Texas that cause an estimated $52 million in damages every year to the state’s agriculture industry.
Neece told KSAT the rancher who gave him permission to eradicate the hogs on his land where the 400-pound boar was shot was losing upwards of $5,000 a month in cattle feed.
Dirt Nap Outfitters, Neece’s hog eradication side hustle, was co-founded with Schulenburg’s Chris Chudej and Dusty Broun.
In addition to his son, Neece told KSAT other family members have joined him on eradication missions, including University of Incarnate Word quarterback Jon Copeland who was named to the HERO Sports FCS Freshman All-America Team in 2018.
“A lot of these farmers have a hard enough time as it is making money and for these feral hogs to come out there and just totally wipe out $5,000 worth of feed that they spend is pretty crazy," said Neece.