“Oh my God! I never seen nothing that big in my life.”
What so shocked Chris Griffin on June 17, 2004 would forever change wild boar hunting and challenge the idea of what constitutes a “monster boar.” It would also set off an internet frenzy of forwarded emails, lead to a National Geographic Explorer documentary, and become the first of many examples of the public’s insatiable interest in gigantic boar.
It all began on a fish farm located outside Alapaha, Georgia. In the past decade owner Ken Holyoak had seen his farm virtually overrun with feral hog. When efforts to curtail the animals proved too costly and time consuming Holyoak began running a hog hunting operation on the property. Griffin was employed on the farm as a hunting guide. In addition to guiding hunters he also helped maintained the farm’s many blinds. He had just finished cleaning a blind early one morning when he spotted a monstrous creature the size of a grizzly bear in the brush.
Without hesitation Griffin sneaked back to his truck to retrieve his rifle and immediately took aim at the monster. One quick snap shot dropped the gargantuan in his tracks, a matter of luck Griffin did not dismiss lightly. “If he wouldn’t a’ been dead…he’d a’ probably tore me up.”
After summoning his boss, Griffin and Holyoak determined that the animal was too large to salvage meat-wise and the decision to bury the hog was made. A crater-size hole was dug with a backhoe and the behemoth lowered in, but not before Holyoak snapped a few photos of Griffin and the beast. These photos, along with Holyoak’s estimate that the boar measured more than 12 feet in length and weighed more than 1,000 pounds, were immediately sent out to friends and family. From there they were forwarded to almost everyone on the planet. The story and photos began appearing in chat rooms, on blogs, and on hunting pages. Somewhere along the line the boar was dubbed “Hogzilla” and its size exaggerated to even larger proportions. Before long even legitimate news organizations began covering the story. It seemed as though everyone was interested in the giant boar, a fact the National Geographic Channel did not dismiss.
In 2005 the channel produced documentary National Geographic Explorer Hogzilla hit the airwaves. The highly rated special detailed Griffin’s account of the shooting as well as the unearthing of the boar’s body by a panel of scientific experts. The team’s conclusion was that Hogzilla was in fact a huge boar but not quite as huge as originally described. The experts put the boar’s weight at about 800 pounds with a body length of 8 feet. The tusks measured an astounding 17 10/16 and 15 3/16 inches and each were more than 3 inches in circumference, a new Safari Club International record. DNA and other analysis concluded that Hogzilla was roughly 7 years old at the time of his death and most likely a hybrid of wild boar and domestic Hampshire. It is believed that Hogzilla reached his incredible size by raiding the fish farm’s protein rich fish food supplies.
Roughly a month before the Hogzilla documentary aired news of another monster boar hit the internet. Dubbed Hog Kong, somewhere in the storm of forwarded emails that the story produced, this monster boar was rumored to have been shot anywhere between Texas and Georgia and weigh over 1,100 pounds. The truth is that the boar was taken by Larry Earley at his 22-acre farm near Leesburg, Florida.
It was late on the afternoon of August 27, 2005. Earley walked from his home to the farm’s pond to check on one of his dogs that was swimming there. When he arrived he spotted a huge animal in the distance. It was so large that Earley initially thought it was a wayward steer that had somehow made it on to his property. That assumption changed immediately when the animal turned sideways to reveal eight inches of exposed tusk protruding from its mouth. Seeing the potential for a lot of sausage, Earley rushed home to grab his scoped .44 magnum Smith & Wesson handgun. When he returned the hog had moved to the shore of the pond, where it stood rooting. Earley crept around the pond to within ten yards of the animal and fired. Recalling the event Earley stated, “He grunted real hard and turned and started coming at me. I backed up and tried to keep the crosshairs on him, but he made about three jumps and fell over sideways about 10 feet from me.”
Seeing the animal down, Earley guessed the boar weighed between 400 and 500 pounds. A 500 pound scale at boyhood friend John Kruzeski’s Suwannee River Ranch suggested otherwise when it bottomed out. From there Earley and Kruzeski took the mammoth to Smokin’ Oak Sausage Co., a butchering facility that handled Suwannee River Ranch’s and other area ranches’ meat processing. Unfortunately the Smokin’ Oak Sausage Co. didn’t have a scale that could handle the animal either. Despite this setback, owner Robert Bradow was extremely confident in his estimate that the boar’s live weight was well over a thousand pounds. “There was over 300 pounds of boneless meat,” Bradow explained. “We have a rule of thumb, the thirds rule, one-third for the head and hide, one-third for the internal viscera, one-third for the carcass. My math tells me you’re looking at 1,140 pounds, almost 1,200 pounds. He was a beast.”
But how did Hog Kong get so big? Much like with his movie monster named kin Hogzilla, Hog Kong may have had some help in the form of supplemental food. “My neighbor had complained about his mineral blocks disappearing,” Earley explained. It is most likely that the boar had been eating out of cattle feed troughs on neighboring farms as well. But supplemental food doesn’t mean that the animal was captive raised. “He definitely had some domestic in him, but he was a genuine wild hog,” Bradow added. “That hog had almost no fat on him, which tells me he had a lot of wild in him.”
In 2007 another monster boar made headlines when Bill Coursey shot and killed a 1,100 pound bruiser in Fayetteville, Georgia. Much like the monsters taken before, the story of this one spread across the internet with lightning speed.
It all began on a Thursday afternoon around three-thirty when Coursey’s wife and son returned from an outing to say that they had seen a huge boar in their neighbor’s yard. When the neighbor was contacted he asked if life-long hunter Coursey wanted to shoot the animal. Coursey excitedly accepted the offer.
After grabbing his Ruger 7mm-08 Coursey and his family drove to the neighbor’s to intercept the hog. “When we came around the corner, it just about blew me away when I saw the hog,” Coursey explained. “It was huge!” Coursey maneuvered to within 30 to 40 yards of the boar and fired. One ballistic-tipped bullet placed just behind the animal’s ear dropped the behemoth to the ground with a thunderous crash. But while killing the animal proved relatively easy, moving it proved to be another task altogether as a backhoe was required to lift it. Weighing it was also a problem. Eventually though a scale that could accommodate the animal was located at the Fayette County waste-management transfer station. The animal weighed an incredible 1,100 pounds. This weight plus the animal’s 9 foot length led many to question the boar’s true origins. “His size made it look like he had a lot of domestication in him,” said Bill. “But I think it is a true wild boar.”
The internet caught another case of monster hog fever later in 2007 when pictures of 11 year old Jamison Stone holding a .50 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol and what was described as 1,000 pound wild boar taken in the wilds of Alabama began circulating. As news of the monster boar spread so did interest in the story. Soon Stone’s story made newspaper headlines around the world. He and his hunt were detailed and discussed on news, sports, and hunting shows. He and his family were invited on The Today Show. Stone’s father set up a webpage and began selling autographed posters of his son with the hog for $10.
And then the real story hit.
It turned out that what young Stone had really shot was a domesticated, mixed Duroc-breed hog named Fred. Rather than being shot in the wild, the hog was taken in a high-fenced 150 acre Lost Creek Plantation “hunting preserve.” It was also discovered that Fred had been shot numerous times over a period of three hours and most likely died from shock or exsanguinations [bleeding out].
Almost overnight the Stone family, the hunt organizers Southeastern Trophy Hunters, and the preserve became the bane of hunters everywhere. The hunting community argued that the Stone pig hunting party had not only given hunting a bad name but they had let an animal suffer for more than three hours. Taking the brunt of the public outrage was Jamison and his father. They were ridiculed and insulted. They became jokes in the press and in online hunting forums. They began receiving hate mail and emails and there was a widespread call to have them, and the others involved, brought up on animal cruelty charges.
In response to the hate and accusations, father Mike Stone turned to his newly developed webpage to state that the hunt was simply an opportunity for his son “to challenge himself.” He further added that the hunt was “the second shot heard around the world” and “the place where old fashioned Christian values and our God given rights will take its (sic) stand.”
Whether the hunt had that much of a global impact or if its criticism was truly an affront to religion is really a matter of opinion. Most people didn’t see the hunt as anything other than an unethical event, possibly staged for publicity.
In 2008, the History Channel responded to the public’s appetite for monster boar information with an episode of popular show Monster Quest. The episode entitled “Mega Hog” examined the feral hog problem, investigated several famous monster boars such as Hogzilla and the Coursey hog, and interviewed victims of boar attacks. Perhaps the most interesting segment involved the Monster Quest team’s attempt to film a monster boar by use of a special camera strapped to the back of a boar captured outside Archer City, Texas. The boar was returned to the wild once the camera was attached. While this unique camera offered a boar’s eye view of the animal’s thick scrubland habitat the signal was lost and the experiment ultimately failed.
The public’s interest in monster boar hasn’t faltered in the years since the first airing of the MonsterQuest’s Mega Hogepisode. In fact it may have grown. Today the internet is alive with pictures and stories of humongous boar reportedly taken by hunters. Some of these stories are true, some exaggerated, and some just flat out falsehoods. But the fact that these stories are getting posted just proves our interest in monsters.
If you mixed Ernest Hemingway, Robert Ruark, Hunter S. Thompson, and four shots of tequila in a blender, a “Gayne Young” is what you’d call the drink!
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