HOG KONG: 'HE WAS A BEAST'
First there was
Hogzilla, the legendary South Georgia
wild boar of beastly proportions and
questionable origins. Now, from the
rural Florida community of Okahumpka
comes another monster hog without a
catchy name but with a credible story.
depending on the source of the e-mails,
there are several not-so-credible
stories attached to the estimated
1,140-pound wild hog killed this past
August by Larry Earley at his 22-acre
farm near Leesburg. Earley's hog, which
went relatively unpublicized for months,
has recently taken on a wildly
embellished life of its own on the
version -- all the e-mailed stories
include photos -- has Earley shooting
the hog in Texas. Another has Earley
firing two shots from a handgun at the
charging animal, and, later, donating
the meat to feed the homeless in
was laughing when I saw that," said
the 39-year-old Earley, who works as a
fireman in Orlando. "There are two
or three versions from Texas. One of
them renames me. Another keeps my name
but changes the location to outside of
have no idea where the stories came
to Earley, here's what really happened.
4 p.m. on Aug. 27, Earley went to check
on one of his Labrador retrievers that
had gone for a swim in the pond on his
property. Earley was concerned because a
9-foot alligator frequents the pond.
was standing on the dock and saw the
butt of the hog," he said. "At
first I thought it was a steer that had
gotten through the fence. Then I saw it
from the side and saw an 8-inch
longtime hog hunter, Earley dashed back
to the house and holstered his .44
magnum Smith & Wesson handgun. It's
the gun he prefers for hog-hunting
because it's easily carried when
pursuing a hog through thick cover.
Earley returned, the huge hog had moved
and was rooting along the edge of the
half-circle to gain a sidelong shot,
Earley crept to within 10 yards of the
animal and fired one round.
grunted real hard and turned and started
coming at me," Earley recalled.
"I backed up and tried to keep the
crosshairs on him, but he made about
three jumps and fell over sideways about
10 feet from me.
didn't realize he was that big or I
would have gotten a different gun."
whose previous biggest hog had weighed
230 pounds, had no clue what this one
weighed. He figured maybe 400, 500
pounds. A 300-pound wild hog is
considered a giant. A 400-pounder's a
suitable scale available, Earley got
help loading the hog onto a flatbed
trailer used for hauling cars. He then
drove up Interstate 75 -- his cargo
drawing stares from other motorists --
to Suwannee River Ranch near Branford in
Suwannee County. The ranch is a hunting
preserve owned by John Kruzeski, a
boyhood friend of Earley's, and it has a
500-pound game scale.
did a double-take when he saw Earley's
hog, which easily outmatched the measly
said, 'Man, that thing weighs 1,000
pounds,'" Earley said.
Bradow, who owns Smokin' Oak Sausage Co.
in Branford and processes meat for
Suwannee River Ranch and other area
hunting preserves, witnessed Earley's
hog before he processed it. He was
stunned by its size.
thing was unbelievably huge, the biggest
hog I've ever seen," Bradow said.
"We've processed a bunch of hogs,
and probably 450 pounds is the biggest
we've ever seen."
meat-processing formula, Bradow
estimated the hog to weigh between 1,100
and 1,200 pounds.
was over 300 pounds of boneless
meat," he said. "We have a
rule of thumb, the thirds rule --
one-third for the head and hide,
one-third for the internal viscera,
one-third for the carcass.
math tells me you're looking at 1,140
pounds, almost 1,200 pounds. He was a
head and hide alone weighed 284 pounds.
Measured from the gum line, one tusk was
8 1/4 inches long; the other was broken
off. The hog's neck was 42 inches
around. Earley is having the head
does a wild hog grow that large? It's
likely Earley's hog had some domestic
blood in him. Also, Earley believes the
hog he shot had fattened up on salt
licks at a neighboring ranch.
neighbor had complained about his
mineral blocks disappearing,"
Earley said. "He had asked me four
years ago if I'd seen a great big gray
definitely had some domestic in him, but
he was a genuine wild hog," Bradow
said. "That hog had almost no fat
on him, which tells me he had a lot of
wild in him."
of Earley's hog to the much-publicized
Hogzilla are unavoidable. Hogzilla was
killed last June at River Oak Plantation
in Alapaha, Ga., by an employee of the
hunting preserve. The hog reportedly
weighed 1,000 pounds, measured 12 feet
long and sported 9-inch tusks.
than a widely circulated picture, there
is no documentation of Hogzilla.
According to the property owners, the
animal was buried on the plantation
because it wouldn't fit in one piece in
a freezer, and the meat was unsuitable
scientists from the National Geographic
Channel have unearthed Hogzilla and will
report their findings in a show to be
aired later this year, according to The
whose own hog is the subject of debate
in e-mail exchanges, is skeptical.
seems odd to me, to shoot something like
that and bury it real fast," he
freezer is still full of sausage, and he
has given much of it away to friends.
None to the homeless, although that
detail made for a good Internet story.
he doesn't seem the type to relish
attention, Earley has become something
of a celebrity. He has been interviewed
by newspapers, radio stations and The
and his 10-year-old daughter took the
photos that have shown up in e-mails,
but they have no idea where the
accompanying stories originated.
were only a couple of people I sent
pictures to," Earley said. "I
have some people I know who might have
written [the stories], but nobody's
fessed up yet.
pretty amazing how far around this has
gotten. I don't mind. I love talking