ALAPAHA, Ga. – Around these parts, they are calling it Hogzilla (search): a 12-foot-long wild hog recently killed on a plantation and now quickly becoming a part of local legend.
The plantation's owner claims the hog weighed 1,000 pounds and had 9-inch tusks. But few people have actually seen the hog — the only proof being a photo that shows the dead beast hanging from a rope.
Whether the hog ever actually existed or is some sort of Faulknerian myth, it has definitely been the topic of conversation in small towns across southern Georgia (search).
"People just back up and ask 'Is it real?' They can't believe that there's a hog that big in the woods," said Drew White, who has a copy of the photo on display at an auto parts store in Tifton, about 17 miles away.
Chris Griffin said he killed the beast last month at the River Oak Plantation (search), where he is a hunting guide, and has been showing off the picture around this small farming community ever since. The hog is nearly twice as long as the 6-foot-tall Griffin, who is seen standing next to it in the photo.
"They say 'Man, you look like a dwarf compared to that thing,"' he said Wednesday.
The picture is all Griffin has to back up his claims. He and Ken Holyoak, owner of the plantation, buried the beast on the property and did not want to hassle with slaughtering it since the meat of large feral hogs is typically not very good.
Holyoak said he decided that the hog's head also wasn't worth keeping because it was too large to mount on a wall. He said the head has the diameter of a tire on a compact car.
"We had to lift him with a backhoe," he said.
No one maintains official records on hog kills in Georgia. But Department of Natural Resources biologist Kent Kammermeyer, who helped write a booklet on feral-hog problems in the state, said he has never heard of one as large as Hogzilla.
Holyoak said the plantation's previous record was a 695-pound hog shot several years ago. Enough wild hogs roam Holyoak's plantation that he has made it a side business to allow people to hunt them, but he said Hogzilla was too big to let someone else shoot.
"We killed it because we didn't want to take a chance of him getting away. Somebody else would have shot it," he said.
Feral hogs, popularly known as wild hogs, are domestic hogs that escaped from farms and began living off the land. They lay waste to corn and peanut fields and deprive more than 100 species — including squirrels and deer — of food.
"It's a big problem and it's getting worse," Kammermeyer said. "If you have a lot of hogs, you're going to have problems. Hogs are very aggressive. They run deer off and they can be dangerous if wounded or cornered."
Holyoak said he had to climb into a deer stand a few years back to escape a raging hog that circled around for six hours, foaming at the mouth and snapping at branches.
"They say bears get mad when you mess with their babies," Holyoak said. "Hogs don't need a reason to get mad and come after you."