GATESVILLE — The pork choppers are about to take off over Coryell County again, and Don Jones wants to make sure hog hunters in helicopters know where they can and can’t open fire.
Jones, a county commissioner and one of 13 landowners who agreed to allow airborne hunters to shoot feral hogs on their property, met Tuesday with representatives of two helicopter charter services, a hunting outfitter and the local game warden to make sure everyone knows the boundaries.
“This is our last shot,” Jones said. “We have to get this right. If we do these ranchers right, they will let us come back.”
Past efforts to use helicopters to rid the county of pesky feral swine veered off-course when fliers failed to distinguish landowners who had granted permission from those who had not.
“I am here as a landowner, not a county commissioner,” Jones said.
Lynn Grogan of Bad Wolf Aviation of Burleson and Gary Chambless of Kachemak Bay Flying Service were given landowner approval documents from those agreeing to the aerial hunting.
Later this week, Jones said he and another area landowner will fly over the land in a helicopter with pilots from the two companies to point out land boundaries.
The pilots will lock the information into their GPS to keep from trespassing when the hunting starts.
John Pack, senior vice president of business development for S3, the parent company of Kachemak Bay, said the two helicopter companies will coordinate their operations for safety.
“There is enough work for everybody,” Pack said.
“This is not about competition, it is about keeping the aircraft safe.”
Pack, a retired Army officer, said his company enjoys a good working relationship with Fort Hood, where KBFS contracted to make "wildlife management" flights over the post for the past 12 years.
“We don’t advertise as a sport-hunting service,” he said.
“We provide eradication services to landowners.”
Bad Wolf Aviation provides flights for hunters through Friends of the NRA, a nonprofit group that offers the hog hunts as part of its fundraising.
Gary and Tia Beyers, owners of G&T Outfitters, have been offering helicopter hog hunts since April.
They have six hunters ready to start shooting hogs in Coryell County on Feb. 8, Gary Beyers said.
G&T furnishes the hunters with Kel-Tec firearms specifically suited for helicopter hunting.
The rifles and shotguns are short for easy use in cramped quarters and eject spent casings from the front of the weapons and out of the aircraft so as not to interfere with the pilot, he said.