From Hearst's Estate to Hillsides: Unveiling the Origins of Monterey's Wild Boar

From Hearst's Estate to Hillsides: Unveiling the Origins of Monterey's Wild Boar

Today, we're diving deep into the heart of Monterey County, where the wild roam free, and the thrill of the hunt awaits. Let me tell you why boar hunting in Monterey County is as good as it gets.

Now, what sets Monterey County apart from the rest?  I wanted to shed some light on the intriguing tale of how wild boar came to roam the hills of Monterey County. While there are numerous anecdotes surrounding their origins, allow me to present what I believe to be the most accurate account. It is said that during the mid-19th century, a wealthy landowner by the name of William Randolph Hearst imported a small number of wild boar to his sprawling estate in the region. These boar, initially intended for hunting purposes, eventually found their way into the surrounding wilderness. Over time, they adapted to their new environment and thrived, leading to the population of wild boar we see today. This narrative, while perhaps lacking the mystique of other tales, stands as a testament to the unintended consequences of human intervention in nature.

February 12, 1963

Mr. Stuyvesant Fish
Palo Corona Ranch
Carmel, California

Dear Stuyvie:

You would like to know where the wild boar originated that I turned loose on the Rancho San Carlos, etc.

It involves two names that you probably never heard of:

The Investment Registry, 2 Waterloo Place, London England and Walter Winans, an American sportsman with a country place in Kent County, England. To answer your question without these names would be like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.

Before the first world war England, not U.S. was the world’s banking center. Any security with merit, from any place in the world, found a ready market in England. The Investment Registry was its largest independent institution dealing in unlisted securities. All of the stock in this company was acquired jointly by a Canadian Trust Company and myself, about three years before the first world war.

After we secured control, one of the first properties financed was about 100,000 acres of first class timber in Graham County, North Carolina in the heart of the great Smoky Mountains. It borders on Tennessee an Virginia. You may think the country of your ranch and the San Carlos in the Santa Lucia Mountains very beautiful–it is, but nowhere have I ever seen anything as beautiful as this wild section of the great Smokies–rhododendrons 40 feet high; the widest variety of foliage imaginable and views of three states from Hooper Bald Mountain, the highest peak in the center of it. I understand the government has now purchased this area for a national park.

You must remember that all I am about to tell you happened before the U.S. has any income tax laws.

My perquisite was a lease of the game rights of the property. There were still black bear and deer and the mountain men who lived there were natural hunters. I hired three of them; built cabins for them, enclosed about a thousand acres in a high woven wire fence on top of Hooper Bald Mountain; built my own log cabin with six bedrooms and baths (no doubt the first bathtubs in Graham County); built a 20 mile road from Andrews, No. Carolina, the nearest railroad to our center.

The first tenants inside the fence were a dozen elk and seven buffalo of both sexes, but the piece de resistance was about 40 bear of all ages that I purchased from various zoos.

Some amusing things happened with the bears. They lost no time in escaping from the fence, but the fact that they had lived inside of buildings during their first months made them seek to return to any building shelter.

One night when I arrived at Hooper Bald, I found a guest, a young Englishman, his arm and leg bandaged from bites from a young bear that had come into the cabin when he was putting it out.

The cabins of the mountaineers in this area had no glass in their windows. Believe it or not, Stuyvie, I was actually sued because one of my young bear crawled through one of these open windows on the Tennessee border and the lady inside had a miscarriage from freight.

I mentioned Walter Winans, an American with a country place in Kent. He had two great sporting interests, trotting horses and wild boar hunting.

About this time I had a great deal of international publicity because I had just bred the winner of the Kentucky Trotting Futurity, Justice Brooke, 2:9 1/2, but more important, the colt was the first one to ever trot a mile faster than 2:10.

As the breeder of Justice Brooke, I received an invitation from Winans to spend the week-end with him. This was the first time I every heard anything about wild boar. He had his own boar hunting forest in Belgium. He was so enthusiastic I decided to add boar to my Graham County collection. He gave me the name of his dealer in Berlin. I wrote this man for a price on three boar and nine sow, the biggest and the toughest he could find anywhere. He gave me his price, I paid it. He said they were from the Ural Mountains of Russia. In due time they arrived at Andrews. Within a couple of years they had taken over the mountain; wild boar always have the initiative. You can never tell whether they run away from you or run at you, all the action any hunter wants.

I had a great many guests, usually for periods of two weeks at a time and the first day or two we had bear hunts with the native Black Bear Hounds.

Our bear hunter was Forest Denton, who was always on hand the first day, but on one trip he wasn’t there, arriving a day late.

He explained” “just after dark I was coming up the mountain and I thought I saw a bear coming through the Laurel, but it wasn’t a bear–it turned out to be a boar and he charged me. I did a little bird work up a rock high enough to miss him, but he stayed there all night watching me until noon the next day.”

For hounds to hunt the wild boar, we quickly found that the local bear hound had little value. The boar killed too many. However, by crossing the Irish wolf hound with the Great Dane we produced an animal that could creditably hold its own.

The hunting period was October and November. Over the years I had many guests. The only Californian was Richard Tobin, but your neighbor, Henry Russell’s first wife when she was Ethel Harriman, was there with her mother, Mrs. Borden Harriman.

One of my guests was you All American relative Hamilton Fish. Ham was anxious to take a boar’s head back to the Porcellian Club at Harvard. Unfortunately when he aimed at the boar, he missed it but killed the favorite cook hound of our chief hunter, Devereaux Birchfield. In those days human life was a cheap commodity in the Great Smokies. A good coon hound was slightly more valued than a child. Devereaux Birchfield had already killed three men for less important causes than the death of his coon hound. I suddenly found that I had urgent business elsewhere and early the next morning our entire party returned to New York.

I don’t think I ever told Ham the reason for our sudden departure.

In the early 20s, when I purchased Rancho San Carlos, the man in charge of Hooper Bald was Garland McGuire. I had him trap nine sows and three boar, the same number that I had originally purchased for Hooper Bald and he brought them to the ranch and stayed there at least a month placing them. He told me that in trapping them four hounds had been killed and one helper badly wounded.

The residents of the Carmel Valley can carry the story on from here.

The biggest boar we ever killed on the ranch, when hung, measured 9 ft. from tip to tip. The skin on his neck was three inches thick; eleven bullets were found which over the years had been imbedded in the fat.

The last time I was in Washington visiting Duffie and Sheila, one of their guests told me that he had just returned from Hooper Bald Mountain area where he was hunting the descendants of these boar and that the states of No. Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia granted licenses for the shooting of only one a year.

The last time I saw William Randolph Hearst, Sr., he said “your pigs have reached San Simeon.”

Please remember me to Emma and Belle. Tell them that one of these days when I am North I’ll pay them a visit.

With kind regards,
George Gordon Moore
Letter courtesy of Lynn Overtree, Palo Corona Ranch.


These gnarly creatures, descendants of a lineage steeped in resilience and cunning, call these hills home. And let me tell you, tracking them down is no walk in the park – it's a test of skill, patience, and grit.

One of the things that makes boar hunting in Monterey County so darn good is the sheer abundance of game. With a population that's thriving and multiplying faster than you can say "Bacon!", there's never a shortage of targets to set your sights on. And let me tell you, bagging one of these bad boys is a trophy-worthy feat that'll have you feeling like a true hunter extraordinaire.

But it's not just about the quantity – it's the quality too. These boars, mixed with a dash of Russian blood, are as tough as they come. With their larger size, thicker fur, and cunning instincts, they'll give even the most seasoned hunters a run for their money. And that's what makes the hunt so darn exhilarating – the challenge of matching wits with these formidable beasts.

But boar hunting isn't just about the thrill of the chase – it's also about conservation. With their knack for wreaking havoc on crops and ecosystems, boars can be a real nuisance if left unchecked. That's why responsible hunting practices are key to maintaining a healthy balance between wildlife populations and the environment.

So there you have it, folks – boar hunting in Monterey County, as told by yours truly, Chuck. It's a wild ride from start to finish, filled with adventure, excitement, and a healthy dose of adrenaline. So grab your gear, lace up your boots, and get ready to unleash the thrill of the hunt in one of California's most spectacular landscapes.

Happy Trails

- Chuck

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