One warm night in the Hill Country of Texas, I looked out the window of my cottage and saw about half a dozen squat, black, wild pigs grazing in the moonlight about 20 yards from the door. In an instant I was on my feet and running full-tilt into the herd, my hand reaching for the knife that never left my belt.
The sensation of something soft and squishy, almost certainly a lump of pig dung under my foot, was followed by a clump of thorns in the other foot. Apparently I was running barefoot. When I was right on top of the shocked pigs, they started running. But I had the momentum. I singled out a smaller one toward the back of the pack (don't mess with the big ones without a gun) and went for my knife.
Only it wasn't there. In my haste I had forgotten not only my shoes but also my knife, which was still lying on the cutting board in the kitchen with the vegetables I'd been chopping for dinner. I ran a little longer after the pigs, figuring that turning around too early might show weakness. Just one of the bigger boars in this pack could easily kill me if it realized that I was bluffing.
About seven years ago I made a decision to stop eating factory-farmed pork. I think my first look at a modern farrowing crate was the final straw. Pigs are as intelligent as domestic dogs and are capable of seeking out human affection. I don't know where the line is between refusing to eat a chimpanzee and being concerned that eating honey inconveniences bees, but pigs seemed like a pretty good place for me to draw one in the sand. I went about five years without touching pork. Considering that this period coincided with America's bacon renaissance, I missed out on a lot.
During this time I started deliberately pursuing invasive species to eat. I ate nutria from the swamps of Louisiana, speared lionfish in the Bahamas, and sniped black spiny-tailed iguanas in front of the Bush family’s Florida vacation house (no trouble from the Secret Service, oddly enough). All of it is detailed in my book Eating Aliens. After about 16 months on the road, I noticed that the most effective work against invasive species was often a result of a few locals taking personal responsibility for the problem. Wild pigs are some of the most destructive invasives in the United States. I decided to hunt wild pigs, and if you care about the environment, you should, too.