Did I Find A Killer Hog?

The first time I went into this location I got the creeps.

You know that feeling you get when you think something might be watching you?

Well, that’s what I had.

So I do what this inquisitive wildlife journalist always seems to do. I pressed on.

I found some large feral hog tracks. They were 3.5 inches long and were the only hog tracks in area.

This location is a piece of property I have access to in a local city. It’s close to homes and areas used for a variety of recreation so I decided to put my Moultrie Mobile XV-6000 that sends photos to an app on my cell phone when photos are taken.

The first photo taken Oct. 7 clearly shows the boar which judging by the tracks and its height measured next to the vegetation in the area is a big boy.

I’d say it weighs 200 plus pounds. It’s not a monster but a legit big hog.

The second shot comes three days later and is the same hog. Between this time and for an additional four days there were no other animals on this trail.

And when I scouted the area-even in a wide patch of open dirt the only trucks were this guy’s tracks. There were no rabbit, raccoon, other hog, opossum, armadillo or any of the tracks of animals common in this area. In fact, just 1/4-mile down from here there is plenty of other animal sign.

I believe I was in the area this hog stakes as its home base of operation and it keeps a lot of other animals, especially other hogs out.

In a 2017 article I did for The Wildlife Journalist, I quoted a study conducted by Dr. Jack Mayer of the Savannah River National Laboratory.

The study documented 412 wild hog attacks worldwide impacting 665 people. During this time there were four fatal hog attacks in the United States.

Of the 21 states reporting hog attacks Texas led the pack with 24 percent with Florida at 12 percent and South Carolina 10. Interestingly when examining worldwide shark fatalities hogs actually beat them out in deaths some years-including 2013.

Here’s where it gets interesting about our solitary boar. Check out these stats.

In his study, hogs that attack are described as solitary (82 percent), large (87 percent) and male (81 percent) and most attacks occurred when there was no hunting involved.

The boar in these photos checks off all of those boxes.

Someone like me who has an idea what he is looking for and knows to take precautions going into a spot like this is one thing.

But how many people in urban and suburban areas will have surprise encounters these kinds of hogs as their populations grow?

We need to start educating people about hogs in urban and suburban areas. And as whatever means are used to take out hog numbers in these zones (usually trapping), specifically targeting some of these lone boars might be wise.

In fact, I began advocating for this practice in an award-winning article I wrote for Hunter’s Horn, the magazine of the Houston Safari Club Foundation called “Hunting American Man-Killers”.

The author with the kind of hog described in the story taken on the outskirts of a populated area. The author’s friend Gerald Burleigh who shot this photo has trapped more than 500 hogs in five years from the same location. Whether you hunt or not you should be for hunting hogs as they do an incredible amount of damage to native wildlife. All wild hog meat taken by the author is eaten by his family or given to those in need.

We have a proven profile of a killer and we can’t know which one will snap but have a very high percentage idea of the ones with the capacity.

It’s a conversation that needs much more discussing.

I pulled the camera from the spot as I have some research to tend to at another location and I have to be honest I was glad to have them out of there.

That place gave me the creeps as much when I left as when I first found evidence of this lone, territorial boar.

Chester Moore

Celebrating The Wildlife Of Israel

Yesterday we announced that we created our own conservation outreach Higher Calling Wildlife. Everyone who joins for FREE gets this very special edition Higher Calling Wildlife “Wildlife Of Israel” e-mag.

It’s the first of its kind magazine focusing solely on Israel’s wildlife and we chose to debut it today as the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets) begins this evening.

This is the New Year on the calendar God gave to the Hebrews and since supporting Israel’s wildlife is one of our pillars, we thought this would be a good way to celebrate and also a new beginning for us.

Subscribe for FREE at http://www.highercallingwildlife.net and get your Higher Calling Wildlife Of Israel e-mag today.

Free Higher Calling Magazine-New Conservation Group Begins

Higher Calling Wildlife founder and award-winning wildlife journalist got his first honors for wildlife conservation work when he was 19 years old.

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The Sportsman’s Conservationists of Texas honored him with their “Youth Conservationist Of The Year” award and the following year he became the group’s first and only back to back winner when he won their prestigious “Conservation Communicator Of The Year”.

Since then he has been honored by Field & Stream magazine as a “Hero Of Conservation” and in 2020 was presented with the “Advocatus Magni” award from the National Wild Turkey Federation-Texas for his work with wild turkeys.

Moore who spends much of his time working with you who have critical illnesses, have experienced traumatic loss or are in the foster system has decided to start his own conservation outreach.

Get a preview of the first issue sponsored by the Port Arthur Visitors and Convention Bureau here.

“We’re calling it Higher Calling Wildlife and it’s centered on forest and mountain wildlife and stream fisheries,” he said.

“It’s free to join and the concept is simple. By using investigative journalism we uncover issues with conservation in these particular fields of interest and empower you to use this information to raise awareness,” he said.

All blog subscribers will get the download option monthly. You can subscribe at the top right of this page or by , emailing chester@chestermoore.com and putting “membership” in the subject line.

Members will get a bi-monthly e-magazine that is produced by Chester and young people in his Wild Wishes® program as well as special access to Moore and his team.

“Wild Wishes® grants wildlife encounters to children with a critical illness or loss of a parent or sibling. We’ve granted 110 of these so far and over the course of six years some of the kids as they’ve gotten older want to work in conservation so we are mentoring them. The first issue of Higher Calling has three of the articles as well as some artwork done by these young people. As we go along the goal is for me to do one piece per issue and them do the rest. We are not giving lip service to raising up young people. We are actually doing it,” Moore said.

Moore said one of the keys to this is Texas Fish & Game owner’s Roy and Ardia Neve’s desire to give back and help and willingness to support their kids’s outreach by distributing through fishgame.com and their e-newsletter.

“They have been amazing giving me space to push the envelope on conservation but also give me a chance to talk about some of the wishes we’ve granted and things we’ve been able to accomplish by God’s grace. And it has been amazing seeing that happen and then the young people wanting to get deeply into conservation. Working for the Neves and TF&G is an honor,” Moore said.

One of the young ladies, Reannah Hollaway shares her story in the first issue as the Texas Tech student got to participate in a desert bighorn capture at Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

Moore and Hollaway at the desert bighorn capture at Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area courtesy of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Anyone who signs up this month gets an additional free e-mag special edition called The Wildlife Of Israel that gives a unique look into the abundant wildlife in the Holy Land.

“We’re small and grass roots,” said Reannah Hollaway.

“But we’re passionate and excited to do something unique for wildlife conservation.”

For more information go to highercallingwildlife.com.

Bear education Necessities

This summer has been a fun one here at Higher Calling as we have been on a three month long quest called “Summer of the Bear”.

The goal has been to raise awareness to bears and bear conservation around the world.

It started with reporting on greatly increased bear sightings in my home state of Texas and has seen us doing lots of giveaways including plush bears for kids and special edition Texas Bear Aware tokens.

This week ends our summer bear project and we’re doing it in a big way publishing this podcast I recorded with Jack Evans of Bear Trust International.

A large black bear photographed by the author in Estes Park, Co. in August. (Photo by Chester Moore)

Listen to the show below as we talk about that organization’s great conservation education work.

Thanks to everyone who participated by sending emails, social media interaction, photos and videos.

The “Summer of the Bear” was a big success thanks to you.

Chester Moore

Horse Killings: Is There a Pattern In TX Cases?

“You see it on social media all the time, but I never thought it would happen to me. Someone shot and killed our horse last night in his pasture in Port Mansfield. If anyone has any leads please let us know. I am completely devastated R.I.P Seabiscuit.”

Those heartbreaking words showed up in my Facebook feed just a day after I started looking into mysterious horse killings in Texas, Florida and Louisiana.

I was able to interview the horse’s devastated owner Jessica Neu, who said the horse was shot in the chest, head on and no meat was taken.

“This was in a pasture right outside of Port Mansfield, TX. It’s the navigation district property where local kids can keep livestock and show animals..”

There is no known motive and as she noted in her post, these killings are showing up all over the place. If you have any information for Neu, contact her here.

We discussed a string of killings in the area around Pearland, TX that began in May and has continued into August. You can hear about those at our podcast here.

The podcast also addresses three similar killings in the Liberty County area from 2017-2018.

The Pearland killings involved the harvest of meat. Like the death of Neu’s horse, the ones in Liberty were shot and left to die with no meat harvest.

Horse meat is legal and popular in many eastern European, Asian and in some Latin American nations. Are people of wealth from some of these nations driving a black market in the horse meat trade? (Public Domain Photo)

These are both bizarre situations and ones that I believe deserve attention here as horses are such an important part of the lifestyle of outdoors lovers.

There is in my opinion two different situations happening regarding horse killings.

The Pearland killings along with a similar situation in central Florida most likely is tied to some sort of black market horse meat trade.

As my friend and fellow researcher Jeff Stewart noted in order to butcher a horse and load it up it would be like skinning and packing out a large bull elk.

One hind quarter would possibly weigh over 100 pounds. There’s a good chance this would take more than one person and the risk level of taking the horse, killing and taking the meat is far higher than a drive by shooting of sorts.

Horses are an important part of outdoors culture around the world. (Public Domain Photo)

The second situation is what we will focus on here which is the killing of horses for seemingly no gain other than to kill the horse or perhaps terrorize the owners.

An Aug. 5 story at Spectrum News details a July killing of a little girls’ horse in Caldwell County, TX. where a horse was shot in the head and left to die. Caldwell County is a four hour drive straight up Highway 77 from Port Mansfield.

Another little girl’s horse was killed in February near Poteet according to the San Antonio-Express News. Interestingly, this is just an hour from the Caldwell County killing, one turn off of 77 from Port Mansfield (37 North) and all three of these involved kids pets, ag show horses or were on property where young people from these programs keep their horses.

Even the killings in Liberty involved a little girl’s horse. You can read more about it here.

Two of the killings were the same little girls’ horse-one two days before Christmas in 2017 and the other in February 2018 after someone gave her a new horse. Another child’s horse was killed in the same area Nov. 2017.

adorable affection animal beautiful
Horses are special animals with a special bond to their owners which makes these crimes all the more heinous. (Photo by Tatiana on Pexels.com)

Is there a pattern here?

We have just hit the tip of the iceberg and will cover more in future editions but here are a few similar reports from other states.

On May 26, ABC Denver 7 reported “Horse Killed in Elbert County ‘Execution Style'”.

A horse was shot in the head as if someone walked up to the horse and did it at point blank range and was the second horse in the area killed by gunfire.

On Feb. 17 KNOE News 8 reported someone shot and killed a horse named “Big Mac” in Calhoun, La.

The horses owner in the story said she feels that she and her family are being targeted.

She said that her other horses have been mysteriously released from her barn by someone multiple times over the past year. She feels this is the same person who killed her horse.

A Nov. 2019 story reveals five horses in North and South Carolina stabbed or shot.

At least one of the Pearland horses was stabbed.

Is there a killer fixated on horses in Texas? What is driving the killing of horses for their meat? Why are horses the target of killings all around the nation?

There are many questions to ask and hopefully someone finds an answer soon.

Contact information on all of the above cases are in the linked stories if you have any pertinent information.

Chester Moore

A Look at The Horse Killings In TX, Florida and Louisiana

A mysterious cluster of horse killings has hit Southeast Texas, specifically in the areas of Pearland (just south of Houston) and in Liberty County.

Some horses are shot and left to lay while others are walked out of their fences, stabbed and have their meat taken.

Who is doing this? Is there a pattern?

Maybe someone out there has a tip for law enforcement.

Click to listen to Chester’s podcast on this bizarre situation.

As someone who respects these animals for their beauty and what they do for back-country hunters, campers and fishermen, this is heartbreaking.

Is this linked to the horse killings in Florida and Louisiana? Something very strange is going on and we are trying to find answers.

Listen as I discusses on the Higher Calling podcast.

Chester Moore

A mysterious cluster of horse killings has hit Southeast Texas, specifically in the areas of Pearland (just south of Houston) and in Liberty Coun

A mysterious cluster of horse killings has hit Southeast Texas, specifically in the areas of Pearland (just south of Houston) and in Liberty County.

Some horses are shot and left to lay while others are walked out of their fences, stabbed and have their meat taken.

Who is doing this? Is there a pattern?

Maybe someone out there has a tip for law enforcement.

As someone who respects these animals for their beauty and what they do for back-country hunters, campers and fishermen, this is heartbreaking.

A mysterious cluster of horse killings has hit Southeast Texas, specifically in the areas of Pearland (just south of Houston) and in Liberty County.

Some horses are shot and left to lay while others are walked out of their fences, stabbed and have their meat taken.

Who is doing this? Is there a pattern?

Is this linked to the horse killings in Florida and Louisiana? Something very strange is going on.

A Tribute To Fallen Sheep Conservationists

While conducting aerial surveys for desert bighorn sheep in West Texas on Saturday, Aug. 8, three Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) employees died in a helicopter crash on TPWD’s Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in Brewster County.

TPWD reported the victims include Wildlife Biologist Dewey Stockbridge, Fish and Wildlife Technician Brandon White, and State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Bob Dittmar.

Photo by Chester Moore.

The pilot, a private contractor, survived the crash and was transported to El Paso for further treatment.

“No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident,” said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director.

“These men were consummate professionals, deeply liked and highly regarded by their peers and partners alike for the immense passion, dedication, and expertise they brought to their important work in wildlife management and veterinary medicine.  Wildlife conservation in Texas lost three of its finest as they so honorably and dutifully carried out their calling to help survey, monitor and protect the bighorns of their beloved west Texas mountains.  We will miss Dewey, Brandon, and Dr. Bob deeply and dearly.  All of us at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department send our deepest condolences and sympathies to the Stockbridge, White, and Dittmar families in the wake of this devastating tragedy and continue to pray for the health and recovery of the pilot.”

In a heartfelt statement on the tragedy, the Texas Bighorn Society released the following statement.

We are deeply saddened after hearing about the tragic and unexpected loss of Wildlife Biologist Dewey Stockbridge, State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Bob Dittmar, and Fish and Wildlife Technician Brandon White on Saturday in the Brewster County helicopter accident.  These three respected Texas Parks and Wildlife employees have dedicated their life to desert bighorn and wildlife conservation.  Their commitment and expertise have given us the knowledge we need to succeed in restoring desert bighorn sheep in Texas.  We will always be grateful to these men for their hard work and sacrifice, and we give our sincerest condolences to their families. 

Make no mistake these three men were conservationists in the truest sense of the word. Wild sheep require a higher level of management than any other game species in North America and what they did for these great animals will help ensure viable populations in the future.

Of the three, I only briefly knew Stockbridge who was knowledgable, generous and passionate about the topic of sheep conservation and all wildlife management, especially at Elephant Mountain WMA which he oversaw.

Photo by Chester Moore.

Wild sheep are special animals and the people who work toward their conservation are special people. These men and women work in some of the most inhospitable environments in America and put in countless hours in extreme heat, extreme cold and at extreme elevations.

They are worthy of our respect and in this tragic case, worthy of memorial as an example of deeply committed conservationists.

Our prayers here at Higher Calling Wildlife are with their families, co-workers and the extended family of wildlife conservationists in the Trans-Pecos of Texas and beyond who were impacted by their dedication.

These men helped Texas’ rarest and most regal game animal, the desert bighorn sheep reclaim and sustain habitat lost during much of the 20th century.

Their death saddens us but the actions of their very dedicated lives should serve as inspiration.

Chester Moore

The Bear And The BBQ

Last Tuesday, me and my friends Todd and Annie Jurasek spent a full day exploring the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, Co.

We had built up quite the hunger, so before heading back to the lodge, we went to a barbecue restaurant we enjoyed the day before.

But at 8:30 it was closed.

We decided to pick up some fast food on the way back, so I pulled out of the parking lot and drove off.

Less than 200 yards away, I looked to the left and couldn’t believe my eyes.

The bear at Estes Park, Co. (Photo by Chester Moore)

A large black bear was sitting on top of a rock about 75 yards away.

“That’s just a statue,” Todd said as I ran out of our SUV with my camera.

“Maybe so, but I have to see,” I replied.

As I focused my camera, I was not sure if I had missed some sort of elaborate statue all of the times I had previously passed by this spot or was looking at an actual bear.

After all, it was dark and it was only lit by street lights from down the road.

As I adjusted my camera settings, the bear moved it’s head and I knew I was looking at something special.

Todd and Annie quickly joined me and we were astonished this large bear was sort of chilling on a rock on the side of the road in the neighborhood. Todd has just prayed for us to have a bear encounter and the Lord responded quickly.

2020 is our “Summer of the Bear”.

He hung out for another minute or so and then lumbered off the rock into the darkness.

Interesting Colorado Parks & Wildlife Department (CPWD) officials made this post this post on Thursday.

Tuesday a bear was seen walking near downtown Estes midday, around 12:30pm. Local LE officers were able to haze the bear away from downtown and it went up a tree near the Birch Ruins.

Wildlife Officer Rylands arrived on scene to assess the situation and help make sure people were not approaching the bear. Rylands asked the bear if it could please remain up in the tree and take a nap until nightfall when there would be less people and cars moving about. Thankfully the bear heeded his request and made itself comfortable on the branch.

CPWD officials posted a photo of the bear in a tree and it’s hard to tell if it’s the same one we saw the same day.

Either way it shows bears on highly adaptable animals and will move into area of human habitations.

If you encounter bears in these settings or in the woods, be careful not to approach or spook them and never feed bears. Obey all bear safety guidelines in parks and respect the fact these beautiful animals are potentially dangerous.

Summer 2020 is the “Summer of the Bear” here at Higher Calling Wildlife and this encounter was a personal highlight for me.

I love black bears and I love Estes Park, Co.

Amazing place.

Amazing animals.

Chester Moore

Higher Calling 2020

There is nothing more majestic than a bighorn ram navigating its mountain domain where the air is thin and the scenery stunning.

As me and my wife Lisa photographed a gorgeous Rocky Mountain bighorn ram enjoying a natural mineral lick at 12,000 feet in Colorado, another ram appeared.

The author photographed this bighorn at 12,000 feet in an area where grazing is restricted but these sheep don’t stay here all the time. Moving into grazing areas is highly dangerous. This is the same described in the introduction standing over a mineral lick (Photo by Chester Moore)

Popping its head up over what looked like a sheer cliff from our angle, the younger ram carefully made it’s away toward the lick, cautiously approaching the older and larger animal.

I thanked God for the moment because I knew it was He that put me and Lisa on this path.

Six months earlier the Holy Spirit whispered the words “Higher Calling” into my spirit and put me on a trajectory that led me on a path of deeper purpose and of elevated expectations.

As COVID-19 continues to shake the world and people debate everything from wearing masks to rioting, there is no doubt times are confusing.

In his letter to the church in Phillip, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

And that’s what seeing the great animals of the high country reminds me of-God, His Creation and divine purpose.

The author glassing for wild sheep with a new pair of Meopta binoculars near Estes Park, Co. (Photo by Lisa Moore)

There was a reason these rams had a mineral lick in their alpine habitat and they instinctively knew they needed it.

When the universe was flung into Creation, those purposes were built into the Earth and the sheep and here we were witnessing it.

There is something pure about mountain air and special about the creatures that thrive in these environments.

Wild sheep don’t always live in the highest altitudes though. They will move down into valleys and fields to feed. And when they do, they are often in grave danger.

There has been a pandemic of sorts ongoing with wild sheep in North America since the 1800s when domestic sheep entered their landscape. Carrying bacterial pneumonia, they transfer it to their wild cousins and the results have been catastrophic.

From two million wild sheep on the continent when Lewis and Clark set out on their expedition to 25,000 or so in 1900 it was brutal.

Hunter-conservationists and concenred fish and game agencies stepped in and through translocation and careful management have brought numbers up to around 175,000 but the threat still exists. And wild sheep still die when the co-mingle with domestics.

Maybe there’a s lesson here for us.

Co-mingling with those infected can only bring trouble.

The coronavirus is one aspect but I am talking about all of the infection of the hateful, vicious fighting over issues that will only truly be settled when the Lord returns. I am talking about the abandonment of honor for fellow humans.

At 12,000 fee that day there were no political debates, election ads, controversies of social issues or division thereof.

It was just me, my wife, what ended up being three Rocky Mountain bighorn rams and a tangible sense of God’s presence.

If I had not heeded the words “Higher Calling”, we would not have experienced this and many things in my life would be different.

This blog would not even exist.

There is something to this whole “Higher Calling” thing and that is for each of us to discover and I believe those who purpose it in their hearts will do so in 2020.

And I am soon heading back to the mountains to do just that.

Chester Moore

The Inspirational Voice Of Mountain & Forest Wildlife Conservation