The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Close Encounters With A Wild Hog

By Mary A. Summerline © 1991

Issue: April, 1991

In 1973 my husband, Leon, our nine year old daughter Mary Ann and I moved to a four acre lot in rural Cumberland County, North Carolina.

Our double-wide mobile home was set back several yards from the highway, and was accessible by a narrow dirt road. About an acre of young pines that had been planted several years before grew between the highway and the southern side of our home. The rest of our land was mainly open space, with an occasional small pine tree or cluster of sassafras and persimmon trees.

The area surrounding our property consisted of pine trees to the east and open fields to the north and west. Our nearest neighbors were the Sarvers, who lived just across the dirt road from us and who had moved in the same day we did. One other family, the Fortners, shared our dirt road, and lived about a quarter of a mile to the north, near the railroad track.

The only other neighbors within sight were some people living in a shack across the highway from us. We never met them, but we were often aware of their presence. The highway had a big curve in front of our property, and those people seemed to delight in driving their automobiles at top speed down an illegal dirt road and onto the highway without stopping. We were concerned that an accident could occur at any time.

By early 1975 we had managed to plant some fruit and shade trees, and establish a vegetable garden. Leon had built a roofless back porch which would serve as a temporary work space and storage area until he could later build a shop. We had also acquired a black and white cat named "Patches."

Early one morning before breakfast, we noticed four hogs in our garden area. Thinking that they belonged to our neighbor, Mr. Sarver, who was raising hogs at the time, we weren't too concerned about them - our crops had all been harvested. They left after a short time. Leon contacted Mr. Sarver, but he said all of his hogs were inside his fenced lot.

About a week later, while alone at home, I looked out the kitchen window and saw the back of an animal extending above the back porch. I thought it was a stray dog getting into our cat's food. I grabbed a broom and hurried out the door. Then I realized it was a big hog, and he was eating some cottonseed meal which was in a container beneath the porch. I chased him off with a few swipes of the broom, and thought that was the end of it.

Three days later the hog was back. Leon happened to be home, and we watched our "friend" several minutes before taking any action. He stopped at the edge of the garden momentarily, as if trying to decide what to do. He was rather large, about 275 pounds, tan in color, and his tusks curved upward, giving the impression that he was grinning at us.

Finally he approached a large aluminum garbage can that contained cottonseed meal. Using his head and shoulders, he knocked the can over, causing the lid to come off. He rolled the can back and forth several times while devouring some of its contents. After eating his fill he managed to push the can upright again, probably by sheer accident. (No, he didn't put the lid on.)

Leon decided he had seen enough, and loaded his shotgun. A single shot fatally wounded the beast, and he ran off into the nearby woods. Leon went off to work. Later that day I found the hog's carcass in the neighbor's woods, a few feet from our property line.

When Leon came home I told him where the hog was. It was too heavy for him to lift, so he tied it to the rear bumper of our pickup truck and towed it across the highway. He deposited it in the dirt road where the neighbors had delighted in racing their automobiles onto the highway without stopping. We never saw them racing again.