I was ready as I’d ever be for my pig. The sky turned a dark orange, then the first stars appeared, and we shivered some more. Reluctantly, we climbed down from the stand and drove back to the barn. Bob had seen a few deer and a raccoon from his blind, but no pigs. Baker had seen six pigs, fired, and missed. Then Baker told us he had to change his flight back to New York; there would be no hunting tomorrow. I had failed at getting my hog. Even worse news: It was too cold for armadillos, so the evening hunt was off.Over a distinctly unwild dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s, I was pretty dejected, but Jackson and Bob just shrugged. Sitting around in the woods freezing and not shooting anything was part of the whole hunting experience, they reminded me.

Plus, we had learned something interesting about Baker’s property. Earlier in the afternoon, we had seen hog traps, so Jackson asked Baker whether they worked.”They work, but once we get a few pigs we just release them again,” said Baker.”What the hell is that for?” said Jackson.”Just to keep people around here entertained, I guess! I mean, I like the hogs. I don’t want to get rid of them, just want to manage them.”Right. This was news to us. I half expected Jackson to call off the hunt after this revelation, but he just shrugged. “It’s his property, he can do what he wants. I’m down here learning to hunt hogs.”

Jackson has seen this kind of thing before. In Florida, the spiny iguanas are pests, but they’re also kind of pretty, so some people kind of like having a few of them around and object when people try to get rid of them. When the USDA was culling Canada Geese in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, locals got up in arms. No one likes goose poop (or miracles on the Hudson), but geese are cool to look at. This ambivalence sort of reminded me of other wildlife conflicts I’ve seen: Predators like wolves fascinate us, but we don’t like to deal with the messy part: their appetite for livestock.