Hog-Wild Pumper

When Luke Deshotels takes a rare break from business, he heads into Louisiana’s backwoods to wrestle wild hogs and bring them out alive
Hog-Wild Pumper
Luke Deshotels is shown with his family and their hog-hunting dogs. The family includes Luke’s wife, Jonell, her mother, Audrey Bergeron, and children Alec, Robert, Balli and Tina. (Photos courtesy of Luke Deshotels)

No one will ever accuse Luke Deshotels of searching for hobbies to fill his free time. After all, time is money for this entrepreneurial pumper from Mamou, La. Those who know him say his primary pastime is building businesses upon every square inch of his schedule.

Even when Deshotels, 46, makes time for fun and recreation, he still finds ways to earn a little money from it. For instance, his hobby since age 15 is wrestling and tying up wild hogs each winter, and selling them to nearby hunting preserves.

Landowners often call Deshotels to remove problem hogs that root up fields, destroy plants and eat crops. In fact, wildlife agencies nationwide are increasingly alarmed as wild hogs expand their range and population. States with feral hogs usually allow year-round hunting seasons with no bag limits in hope of controlling them.

Not everyone wants them shot, however. In some cases, Deshotels and his friends subdue hogs other groups couldn’t live-capture. Among the largest hogs they’ve caught are 400- and 500-pounders, but most run smaller. By removing ornery hogs from one property and releasing them where they’re valued for their meat and hunting opportunities, Deshotels satisfies two customers at once. Depending on the hog’s size, he earns $50 to $300 per pig when releasing them inside a preserve the same day they’re captured.

But Deshotels says this is more about sport and heritage than profit. His father learned the craft during the 1930s for food and profit, and passed the expertise onto him. Likewise, Deshotels taught those skills to his son. The tradition resembles those of families who have hunted alligators for generations.

“This is an extreme sport,” Deshotels says. “I don’t carry a gun. We look forward to finding a worthy opponent; one that makes you pay attention. Sometimes we get chased; sometimes we get beaten up. You’d be amazed how motivating a 400-pound wild hog can be. You’ll run faster and jump farther than you ever have in your life when a big one gets after you.”



Leave it to Deshotels to embrace a hobby requiring work, willpower and an occasional butt-whoopin’. He likes challenges requiring versatility and quick thinking. Consider the diverse services he provides as owner/operator of Big Mamou Bio-Solids Inc., and Luke Deshotels Construction in Mamou, La.

For starters, Deshotels’ companies install, pump, clean and inspect septic tanks. They also sell equipment for septic tanks, and sell and repair septic-tank parts. At the same time, they build Hoot Home Sewer Treatment plants for rural residents, and clean grease traps and rent trailer homes. And if that’s not enough work, they built and operate their own wastewater treatment facility, where they process 20,000 gallons of septage, grease-trap and portable-toilet wastes daily.

No matter who calls or the nature of the job, Deshotels and his crew have the trucks, equipment and expertise to help. Their primary trucks are a 2005 Sterling LT 8500 with a 4,000-gallon Progress aluminum tank and 400-cfm Wittig pump. The rig was assembled by Tri State Tank. The truck also carries a Water Cannon jetter system. They also use a 2005 International 7600 with a 4,000-gallon steel tank and 300-cfm Wittig pump and a Harben jetter system from Presvac Systems Ltd. Their standby truck is a 1995 International 4900 with a 2,500-gallon steel tank and a 300-cfm Fruitland pump built by LMT Inc.



When it comes to chasing and catching wild hogs, Deshotels says it’s all about his dogs, not his trucks. Yes, pickup trucks carry him, his friends and all-terrain vehicles to the properties they hunt. Pickups also carry captured hogs to their new homes after successful chases, but none of that’s possible without trained hunting dogs.

And who trains the dogs for their demanding work? Deshotels, of course. He prefers a tracking breed called the yellow blackmouth cur. The dogs have a bit of hound bred into them to boost their endurance and determination.

“You don’t just pick up a dog off the road to hunt hogs,” he says. “You need good ancestry in your hog dogs. After you turn them loose, they stay silent while tracking. If they start barking too soon, that pig will run all the way to Texas. They don’t start baying until they get the hog to stop.”

Deshotels releases three curs to find a hog’s scent and track it to the source. Some tracking jobs are as brief as five minutes and as short as a quarter-mile. Others, however, require Deshotels’ crew to return to their trucks or hop aboard their all-terrain vehicles. In extreme cases, they’ll roam the back-roads for up to five hours and cover 15 miles before closing the deal on foot.

When hogs stop to face the tracking dogs, they pick a spot that gives them the advantage over their pursuers. By limiting the tracking job to three dogs, Deshotels ensures the dogs don’t grow overconfident. A pack of five dogs, for instance, would likely close on the hog and try to kill it, risking their own safety in the process. “You don’t want them biting the hog’s legs and body cavity,” he says. “They know to keep their distance and wait for the ‘finisher’ to show up.”

The ‘finisher’ is Deshotels’ pit bull terrier, the key to ensuring live-captures. Unlike most dogs, pit bulls bite once and don’t let go. With the hog distracted by the curs, Deshotels brings in the pit bull from downwind, ensuring the hog won’t catch their scent and flee. When they’re about 20 yards away, he releases the “finisher” and runs alongside it to the hog. As the pit bull latches onto the hog’s head, Deshotels joins the fray to secure its legs with rope. He’ll use handcuffs if the hog weighs more than 300 pounds.

“Things can get pretty wild,” Deshotels says. “If the hog wins, the hog wins. Sometimes they’re the worthier opponent. We’ll regroup and try again. We often get called in to catch hogs other guys couldn’t get. There’s an art to it; a strategy. It’s not about overpowering the hog, but it helps that I’m 6-2 and 245 pounds.”

Despite its risks and dangers, Deshotels says catch-and-release hog hunting is good for the soul. “During the most intense portions of it, you forget all about your other problems,” he says with a laugh. “That’s where we get our real reward.”


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.