Like many successful marriages, Carol and Paul ReDavid share a common passion: they both love to hunt. Every weekend, the couple packs up their equipment and young family and heads south from their suburban Atlanta home to a hunting cabin in the southern part of the state.
In the fall and early winter, they hunt deer and waterfowl and, in the spring, turkey. The rest of the year, a variety of small game hunting seasons brings the avid outdoors family to their little piece of paradise.
As Georgia’s wild hog infestation intensified in recent years, the couple learned that wild hog hunting was legal year-round because of the damage feral pigs cause the state. According to Georgia Feral Swine, wild pigs cause $150 million in damage every year throughout the state.
“Feral swine pose an extensive threat to Georgia’s economic engine, agriculture, and the natural resources that are critical to a thriving ecosystem. The wild animals damage natural environmental areas and directly compete with other wildlife for food sources and habitat. Wildlife affected by wild pigs include, but are not limited to deer, turkey, foxes, quail, raccoons, squirrels, salamanders, small mammals, and waterfowl. Additionally, feral swine damage water ways and riparian zones, contributing to erosion and decline of aquatic species habitat. Feral swine also cause damage to crops, trees, and agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation.”
-Georgia Feral Swine
What began as an extension of the ReDavids’ hobby soon became a public service.
“The farmers in the area who allowed us to hunt on their land began to ask for help with the feral hogs damaging their property and crops,” said Carol ReDavid. “The devastation they cause is truly incredible. They root around for grubs, roots and peanuts and there’s a lot of peanut farmers in our area.”
“And it’s not just famers who suffer,” Carol added. “They leave behind deep ruts in the ground, which are dangerous in grazing fields. We have cattle ranchers who have lost cows due to broken legs caused by these deep ruts.
“They also have a huge impact on other species,” Paul ReDavid said. “They eat quail eggs and turkey eggs. When you see a field with 30 or so hogs, the turkeys quickly disappear. In swampy areas of Georgia, they eat snakes. They destroy entire grazing and farming fields rooting for anything they can eat. They’re omnivores and will eat everything, even roadkill. They’re insatiable and reproduce rapidly.”
According to Georgia Feral Swine, females, or sows, “have a gestation period between 112 and 115 days and can typically produce two litters per year. Litter size can fluctuate from 3 to 13 piglets but an average of 4 to 6 piglets per litter is most common. “
Feral hogs are also known as wild hogs, feral pigs, wild boar, feral swine, razorbacks, and wild pigs. According to Georgia Feral Swine, all refer to the same species known as Sus scrofa. These pigs were introduced to North America by Spanish explorers in the early 16th century and again by English settlers in the 17th century. In the 20th century, Eurasian wild boars were introduced into North America for hunting. All of these species comingled with domestic free-ranging pigs to create the modern feral hog. As farms were abandoned in the Southeast during the Dust Bowl and both World Wars, Sus scrofa grew and spread rapidly.
“Farmers don’t have the time to deal with this problem because they work from sunup to sundown and the last thing they want to do is to stay up all night hunting pigs,” said Paul.
A combination of factors make hog hunting a night-time pursuit in Georgia. Feral hogs are not dumb animals and are difficult to approach in the daylight. Also, the heat of Georgia makes the task even more difficult during the long summer days. “If you’re sweating and downwind from pigs, they’ll smell you and bolt long before you can take a shot,” said Paul.
But to hunt at night, thermal imaging is essential to locate herds—called sounders—of pigs. “Without thermal cameras, it’s almost impossible to find them at night,” Paul said.
Initially, when asked by farmers and ranchers to help with hog infestation, the ReDavid’s used a hand-held thermal monocular to find sounders. “This process is very awkward. We basically had to drive slowly down country roads with one of us holding the monocular out the truck window looking for pods of pigs.”
“We were using these handheld thermal monoculars, hanging out the window to help find the pigs. Then I would try to sneak up on them with a flashlight duct-taped to my gun,” said Paul. “If and when I was in range, I turned on the light and took the shot. I bagged some pigs that way, but NightRide Thermal changed everything.”
“There’s been nights where I walked 30-50 yards right into a group of pigs and that was only possible thanks to our NightRide Scout camera,” Paul added.
The NightRide Difference
NightRide is the leader in vehicle-mounted thermal cameras, allowing drivers to see through the darkness, fog, snow, rain and smoke. The cameras can be easily mounted to any vehicle and wirelessly transmit video to a cell phone or pad fixed upright inside the vehicle. It allows users to easily see people, vehicles, cyclists, obstructions and wildlife in the darkest of nights and from a great distance.
Of the leading makers of night-vision cameras of vehicles, NightRide Thermal’s line of products are the only ones that are completely portable, provide true heads-up display, wireless connection, automatic video recording, and clarity at 1,800 feet—and the only product to provide all of these features at under $2,000.
“That’s the advantage of the NightRide camera,” Paul said. “It sits on top of the truck and we can look left, right, in front of the truck or behind it, as well as up or down—all without moving the truck. The panning and tilt function of this camera is a complete game changer. Since it sits on top of the truck, we can see much farther than we could while holding a handheld thermal camera at eye-level. So that’s a huge benefit. And we can differentiate deer from pigs at 500 yards in the pitch black!”
The most difficult part of hog hunting is finding large sounders at a distance so that they are not scared off by the sound of the motor or the scent of the hunters. NightRide Thermal solves these problems. Once the ReDavids find sounders of hogs, they can quietly approach them, get within firing range and fix their rifle scopes on the lead pig in the pack.
“Once you take out the lead pig, the others scatter in all directions, which makes it much easier to take them out one by one,” Paul said.
“With the added height provided by NightRide we can slowly circle fields at a distance and find sounders behind rises or patches of trees, where they like to hide,” said Carol. “Those were pods that we typically just drove past and never knew were there.”
“NightRide technology is not an incremental improvement for us—it was a 100% improvement in every way!” said Paul. “I couldn’t want anything better.”
And the ReDavids neighbors who are farmers and ranchers are equally pleased.
“We’re getting pretty efficient at this and that’s why farmers are really digging it,” Paul said. “I’m proud to probably be the only native New Yorker in Georgia with a gambrel mounted on my truck. We clean them on the roadside and we consider this a clean life-style because we eat the majority of the hogs we harvest.”