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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Hog hunting in Bryan

Graphic by Pranay Dhoopar
Hog Hunting from Helicopters

HeliBacon, a Bryan-based helicopter company, provides a safe and memorable experience to hunters of all experience levels.

HeliBacon serves those drawn toward hog hunting with available packages such as a night vision hunt, group packages, machine gun range practice and more. The company said they take safety and security very seriously, starting off with a safety discussion and then firearm practice before moving forward with any scheduled event.

The mission is to deliver a fun hunting experience for clients while simultaneously doing a beneficial service for local ranchers by cleaning up hog and coyote populations, crew chief Taylor Cary said. Feral hogs, a species invasive to the U.S., harm local ecosystems and farms due to crop damage — a problem further exacerbated by a lack of natural predators, Cary said.

“We get to entertain our clients and have them have a good time,” Cary said. “They come from all over the world, all over the country. At the same time, we get to help out local ranchers protect their crops, land and livestock. It’s a pretty good gig.”

The basic package includes a machine gun shoot on the ground and provides exotic guns to shoot, Cary said.

“The next price range is a helicopter hog hunt,” Cary said. “Either of those things can be [individual], or you can package them up. ‘The Works’ package is a ground machine gun shoot and helicopter hog hunt. We also have a night hunt package as well.”

Julie Kinsky, a HeliBacon participant, said she and her husband planned to shoot skeet and go on the night vision hunt.

“I would absolutely recommend this place to others, it was such an adrenaline rush,” Kinsky said. 

Hunters in Texas always want to make a big dent in the hog population, but there has yet to be a noticeable change, Cary said. 

“Their population is getting pretty out of control,” Cary said. “We do what we can, but at the end of the day, we are only one helicopter and we only go up four times a week. I haven’t noticed any sort of decline in the population, I am sure the ranchers wish that was the case.”

After the helicopter hog hunt, Julie said that she did learn hogs are a lot smarter than they are portrayed. 

“It was nerve-racking when you first get in there, you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know how it’s going to be, but you start getting more comfortable with it,” Julie said.

The only requirement is a driver’s license or passport upon arrival, Cary said. 

“You do not need a hunting license,” Cary said. “Other than that, we will get you through with a safety course, your gun and everything you need to know.”

HeliBacon participant Ray Kinsky said he wanted the opportunity to shoot a hog on the morning hunt. 

“However, with it being super windy, there [were] not as many hogs moving around,” Ray said. “I am looking forward to the night vision hunt later.”

Cary said there are a few items that are essential in order to have a comfortable experience. 

“The only thing you really need to bring is warm clothing [during winter and] maybe a face mask,” Cary said. “As far as summer goes, definitely [bring] some sunglasses and shoes that are not going to slip off. That is about it, it’s pretty easy.” 

Some clients actually do not have a lot of shooting experience, Cary said. 

“They come from all over the world, all sorts of different cultures, so we have a professional crew of ex-military guys who have been around firearms their whole lives,” Cary said. “We have a lot of formal training and getting people [up] to speed on firearms, showing people how to safely use them and how to be safe around other people.”

Her first time hog hunting was a fun adventure, Julie said.

“I would have liked to see more hogs on the hunt this morning, but I know that I can get another opportunity sometime this evening,” Julie said. 

Before flight, the company advises participants on what they are using, how to be safe and gives the participants constant reminders throughout the day, Cary said. 

“The whole time we are up in the helicopter, we’ve got a certified firearms instructor with them, just like it would be like on a public shooting range for example,” Cary said. “At no point is anybody going to be unsupervised or left out to dry if they don’t know how to use their firearm or anything like that.”

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