TIFTON -- The legend of "Hogzilla" was not the first tale of giant hogs in south central Georgia. The History of Tift County by Ida Belle Williams tell of hogs found in Tift County's past that would have made Hogzilla look like a little piglet.
Hogzilla was brought into the public's attention when Chris Griffin of Alapaha killed the half-ton feral hog recently at the River Oak Plantation. Only a single photo serves as evidence of the beast, which was then buried. Many people doubted the story because they had never heard of a hogs getting to that size, 12 feet long and 1,000 pounds.
If the stories of "Big Hog" Dan Walker are true, they can get even larger.
According to the History of Tift County, Walker was a farmer who lived two miles north of Tifton who "raised the largest hogs so far is known in the world."
Between 1900 and 1910, Walker raised hogs weighing from 1,250 to 1,683 pounds including several in the 1,600-pound range. The hogs were said to be big enough to pull a two-horse wagon. The farmer was said to have used the hogs to pull his wagon from his farm to Tifton and then back.
Eunice Mixon of Tifton found the article on Walker, remembering stories her father told her about the hog farmer and the pigs who pulled his carriage.
"Even though I knew my father loved a good story and could tell one, he never mixed up the two," said Mixon. "If he told it as factual, it was factual."
The writer of the article on "Big Hog" visited the Walker farm, where the farmer showed off the strength of his beasts. Walker and his son climbed atop one of the massive pigs and the animal was unfazed.
"There was no difference in the way the hog walked with or without the load," the author wrote.
Walker showed the hogs at the state fair in Macon and the writer of the article claims to have witnessed one weighing in at 1,683 pounds. The breed of the hogs Walker raised was unknown by the author, but the farmer claimed that he had a secret.
"Mr. Walker claimed that he grew them to the enormous size with some kind of special tonic of his own formula," the article said.
Walker died around 1925 but 80 years later, people are again talking about big hogs in South Georgia. Perhaps there could be a connection between the two. Feral hogs like Hogzilla come from farm pigs who are released or escape into the wild. Hogzilla was covered in coarse, red hair, and Walker's giant pigs were described nearly identically.
Could Walker's special tonic still be working its magic nearly a century later, in the descendants of his enormous hogs? Could another Hogzilla be out there now, just waiting to grow into adulthood?
"My opinion on Hogzilla is, the jury's out," said Mixon. "I know that it's possible to have a hog that big."
According to several Internet sites, the largest pig ever was a Poland-China hog named "Big Bill." This gargantuan porker weighed 2,552 pounds and was so fat its belly dragged on the ground. The hog was nine feet long and stood five feet tall.
Hogzilla may have weighed less, but if the claims are true, he was longer than "Big Bill" by three feet. If nothing else, he could be the largest wild hog ever found although exact records about this are hard to find, if they exist at all.
Meanwhile, the legend of Hogzilla, along with the legend of "Big Hog" Dan Walker, will continue.
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