Feral hogs are taking over the Texas countryside and Brown County resident Jerry Campbell is doing his best to rid the state of this costly nuisance. Last week, America got their first look at the Campbell family in their own reality show, “American Hoggers”, which premiered Wednesday, Oct. 19, on the A&E Network. The show features the Campbell family and their adventures as they struggle to rescue Texas residents and ranchers from the devastating chaos caused by millions of invasive wild boars, states A&E.
Jerry Campbell, his daughter Krystal, and son Robert hit the trail in Burkett, Texas during the pilot episode provided by A&E Network and hunt hogs that are destroying a farmer’s crops and fences. Feral hogs are putting some ranchers nearly out of business in Texas where nearly half of the hog populations are growing into the millions, according to A&E. Causing over $50 million dollars in damage in the state alone, these animals are a source of loss of not only crops, but also livestock and financial well being to these ranchers.
“They are a menace, they aren’t afraid of anything,” said Campbell. “Brown County does have a hog problem, but in Haskell and Knox counties they are the worst in the farm country.”
The Campbells run a hunting business and have hunted these feral hogs, jaguars, mountain lions, bob cats and bears for years, led mainly by their dogs. In fact, Campbell started hunting professionally with Captain Bob Snow on the Y O Ranch in the late 60s as a government hunter under the Department of the Interior Bureau of Sports Fisheries and Wildlife. Campbell said that he hunted 40 hours a week on salary, which he jokes is the dream job for any avid hunter. He also stated that initial press releases about his new show stated that he was a Texas Ranger at one time, which although this was a mistake in the release, he did work closely for years with these men on hunts, who he said are some of the smartest men around and that he highly respected them.
Campbell said hunting is a family affair and always has been.
“The kids have hunted all their lives,” said Campbell. “I had a deal with the kids that if they got me a hunt and I got a hog, I’d give them a percentage of what I made off it.”
Because of this offer, Krystal had a website about their hunting services and this caught the eye of A&E, eventually leading to an interview with Campbell.
“A&E was looking for the best there is in this business,” answered Campbell when asked how a guy in Brown County gets a show of his own.
Krystal has been nicknamed “Pistol” because she is a great shot.
“There’s not a boy in the Brownwood area that could out shoot Baby Lamb (Campbell’s own nickname for his daughter),” said Campbell.
Campbell said this new reality show takes viewers on actual hunts and that none of it is scripted.
“There’s no acting, every bit of it is 100%,” said Campbell. “This is how we are 100%. The only thing they did have to rephrase some of my countrified sayings.”
Campbell stated that his favorite part of the filming of the eight episode first season was that the film crew let them hunt as they always did and just followed along.
“The film crew just set back and let us do what we always do and just filmed it,” said Campbell. “It was no different than any other hunt. The crew was the finest guys you ever met and I consider them close friends now. The hunt wasn’t much different, it was better though to have more eyes and ears.”
Campbell said some of the crew had hunted before. There were members from all over the country—Georgia, Alaska, New Jersey, Arizona, and even one named Naiche who is half American Indian and is named after a famous Apache Chief. Campbell said that he was very impressed with Naiche because of his running speed where he could catch up with the dogs and film their encounters finding hogs.
“He could run as fast as the jeep and horses in 110 degrees,” said Campbell. “He got to the hog-catch a couple of times faster than we could.”
Campbell is proud of his expertise and success as a hunter and stated that growing up; people didn’t give it much respect.
“I never was interested in athletics or football. A lot of people said I was afraid to play,” said Campbell. “I invite anyone of them to come with me and see if they can catch one of those big boars bare handed and tie it up.”
A mature wild Russian boar or feral hog can weigh around 180 pounds or more, Campbell said. He described them as “shaggy beasts, shaggy like a bear.” He also said they are omnivorous and will eat anything including meat, vegetables, fruit, etc.
“Some people say they have seen 500 pounders. They also see Big Foot and Space aliens,” joked Campbell.
Campbell also owns a fencing business but due to the economy, it was not producing a sufficient income. Campbell said that he became concerned about his finances and that this show has been a true gift from God.
“People wouldn’t think it looking at me, but I pray a lot. I prayed that the Lord would send me a way to make a better living,” said Campbell. “I prayed hard and two weeks later, A&E called us. I do believe the Lord hears and answers our prayers.”
For those who love to hunt or love a good chase, “American Hoggers” is a good action packed outdoor adventure to be enjoyed. The first of eight half hour episodes of “American Hoggers” premiered on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 9 p.m. CST and will continue on Wednesdays. These eight episodes were filmed in Brown County at the Campbell’s home and hunting in areas across Texas such as Haskell, Burkett, East of Zephyr, Lohn, near Sweetwater and in Cherokee.
“American Hoggers” is produced by Thom Beers’ Original Productions, a Fremantle Media Company for A&E. For Original Productions executive producers are Thom Beers and Philip D. Segal. Jeff Conroy serves as co-executive producer and Brandon Killion serves as series producer. A&E executive producers are David McKillop, Elaine Frontain Bryant and Lily Neumeyer.