High on the Hog

Hunting from a helicopter isn't as easy as Sarah Palin makes it look.
In an aerial hog hunt, the helicopter hovers only twenty feet above the scampering hogs. Photo by Eric Lewis

With my legs dangling out of the side of the helicopter, I scanned the ground below me for any sign of feral hogs. I was entering the second hour of my aerial hog hunt and had yet to hit anything. We had seen more than forty pigs, but it turns out that my single trip to the gun range and one practice run shooting from the air had not adequately prepared me for my first-ever hunting trip, which entailed gunning down a sprinting pig from a moving helicopter.

As we flew over a small reservoir on a 25,000-acre spread of land, we spotted a sounder of hogs—two sows and their piglets—lounging in the shallow water, seeking respite from the 103-degree heat. The pilot, Dustin Johnson, maneuvered his Robinson-22 helicopter over the group, flushing the pigs out of the water and onto a nearby wheat field. Terrified by the sound of our blades and the rat-tat-tat of my gun, they ran at a fast clip in single file, with striped young piglets bringing up the rear.

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