TFB Innovators Friday: Todd Huey Of Lone Star Boars
Born and raised in Texas, Todd Huey grew up with a gun in his hand. It started out as a Red Ryder BB gun that he carried on family hunts, but he quickly graduated to a rimfire rifle where his father would hand him one round at a time. After using that Savage rifle for a number of years to hunt all types of game, including on-the-wing birds, Huey’s dad handed him a 20 gauge shotgun and he couldn’t miss. Now, almost 30 years later, he owns Lone Star Boars – a hunting and feral pig eradication company that uses advanced weapon technology to help curb the millions of dollars in losses suffered by Texas farmers every year.
Writer’s Note: Because I grew up hunting and I am a carnivore, images of dead and bloody animals don’t bother me. However, TFB isn’t a hunting blog and I realize some shooters may have differing sensitivities, so I have blurred the harvested animals in the below images. Still, if you’d rather not view the redacted pictures, this is your warning to stop scrolling.
First a quick lesson on feral pigs. Previously escaped from hog farms, feral pigs are an invasive species (not native to Texas or anywhere else in the U.S.). While farm raised hogs are pink and white, escaped hogs can regress to mean wild boars in only six months. Within two litters, new hogs are hairy with huge tusks. On top of that, they are eating an breading machines, digging up roots and seed by the acre. The end result is a massive problem for farmers, ruining farmland and costing everyone in the food chain money.
To make matters worse, pigs feral hogs are one of the smartest species of mammals on the planet, adapting to their surroundings and learning to avoid to adversaries. For instance, once roaming freely during the day, most pigs have become almost nocturnal to avoid hunters. And the use of helicopters to hunt has slowed simply because hogs know to run and hide when they hear them coming.
About five years ago, Huey took a .45-70 lever action, 40 rounds of ammunition and headed out into the field with some friends. In broad daylight, he had run through all of his rifle ammo and moved on to a pistol and later an M4. In all, he had harvested dozens of pigs in a matter of only a few hours,
But as we discussed above, hogs are smart – they quickly adapted to daytime hunting, avoiding open spaces until after dark. And so hunters like Huey were forced to adapt as well.
Enter weapon technologies like silencers, night vision and thermal imagers. Now hooked on hog hunting to help local farmers, Huey turned a hobby into a business, opening up Lone Star Boars about two years after his initial hog hunt. He found that, because he was harvesting so many animals, he was generating useful data to ammunition manufacturers, optics companies and the silencer industry. Huey would give honest reviews on what worked and what didn’t and viewers could use that information to make informed purchases. As macabre as it sounds, kill data is important to other hunters as well as the military. What looks good on paper is quickly tested in the field for true efficacy.
“I’m not out to slam companies; if something doesn’t work, I give them the opportunity to make it better. And in the end, if I don’t like it, I just don’t talk about that piece of gear anymore,” said Huey. That’s a trait not shared by all YouTube reviewers strictly out for viewer traffic.
Currently, Huey’s preferred rifle setup is an LWRC R.E.P.R. in .308 with a Q Thunder Chicken silencer and a thermal optic from Pulsar. He’s also using the Freedom Munitions “Boar Buster” rounds with good success. Remember, with 5,000+ hogs harvested alone, Huey is an expert at picking what works and what doesn’t in the search for ethical kills.
By partnering with distributors like Silencer Shop and The Night Vision Guys, Huey can be brand independent, testing gear and reporting factual details in reviews without the worry of having to please specific manufacturers.
I asked the Lone Star Boars owner/operator what is the best value in night vision currently on the market. He recommended both Trijicon and Pulsar thermal optics, noting that the Trijicon models may be a few thousand dollars more expensive for similar performance. What makes Thermal technology so pricey? Not the electronics, but the Germanium lenses. Huey has seen prices decrease over the last few years, but the market may be plateauing for some time to come – until the next technological or manufacturing breakthrough.
Classic, more traditional night vision devices will most likely stay at the same levels. Because manufacturers are geared heavily to military and government sales, distributors to civilian customers are left with extremely low sale margins. And unfortunately the demand will never increase enough to change output levels. So if you are waiting for the price to drop on a White Phosphor PVS-14, you may be waiting forever.
Huey starts his hunts at the 50 yard mark and can wind up as far out as 500 yards. Because of the resolution limitations on most thermal devices, digital magnifications can become visual blobs instead of game silhouettes. With each increase in magnification, the resolution is halved: 640 becomes 320, then 320 becomes 160 and so on. That leaves him to rely on skill and experience to identify targets, with or without the latest cutting edge tech.
Because of how fast feral hogs breed, it’s a challenge to keep up with the destruction, even for professional hunters like Huey. He estimates that he has to harvest seven out of every 10 hogs on a piece of farmland just to keep pace with the numbers. Anything less and the hogs are just chased on to the next property.
For those interested, most of the hunted animals are sold off to local processors to eventually become pet food. Averaging a few hundred pounds, Huey rarely talks about weight anymore. “I’ll mention a 350lb kill and sure enough, someone will come along and say they have take a 500lb boar.” Monster hogs do exist, mostly on farms with high protein feed.
Huey doesn’t claim to be the first hunter to use technological advances to curb feral pig populations. But he seems to be one of the best and most informative hunters making gun, silencer, ammunition and gear reviews. His explanations are well thought out and justified, using actual hunting situations as evidence.
Currently, Huey runs Lone Star Boars part time at night and on the weekends. But if demand continues to rise, he could see making it a full time career. Providing reviews, guiding hunts and providing farmers relief from the ever expanding hog population.
Even if you aren’t a hunter, Huey’s videos are both informative and entertaining. Go take a look.
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December 1, 2017 at 05:33PM