Beating the Odds: Man vs. Boar

man vs. boar
Trapper James Dean

Wildlife trapper James Dean traps a pig and almost loses his life

James Dean has been bitten by snakes, attacked by dogs, and wrestled a 4-foot bull shark out of an inland pond (it was a prank). But it was a wild boar that almost did him in, and he’s still fighting to recover.

It was October 21 last fall when Dean got a call from a homeowner near Melbourne, where he lives, that a wild pig was chasing his daughters on their way to a school bus stop. Dean, a Florida wildlife trapper for the past 20 years, headed out with his traps on his truck to the property.

“It was a private gated community that had had issues with wild pigs before—I had taken many pigs out of there,” Dean says. “I’ve done this over 20 years, and I’ve never heard of something like that happening where the pig was so aggressive. What really ticks me off was that it was only a 200-pound pig—a male boar hog with cutters [like the one pictured here, but with longer tusks—ed.].” Cutters are what Dean calls a boar’s tusks, which can grow to three to five inches on wild boars, and are razor sharp.

“I pulled up to the truck when the homeowner called and said the hog was in the trap. I went ahead and dropped the transport trap. I get up on both the traps and open both doors and get the pig to go into the transport trap. Once he’s in the transport trap I can shut the door and go ahead and lock it and winch him into the back of my truck.”

But this time, the routine went bust.

“What actually happened when I [opened the door to the trap] was he hit the side of the trap and started to come out. I jumped down to kick him back in and he grabs my inner calf and tore it with his cutters, and I used my left leg and he cut me on the outside of my leg and on the inside of my left knee underneath the knee. Cut it wide open. When he grabbed me from inside my right calf, I fell backwards against the side of the trap, and my head opened up above my right eye.

“I really don’t remember how long it took, because I was going in and out of consciousness, but I was able to get the pig back in the trap and at least lock him in.”

He had secured the animal, but Dean was already fading in and out, bleeding heavily from both legs and his head. “I knew I was bleeding out. At that point my son was on his way out to bring the gun and shoot it, because I thought it was just going to be the regular pick-up-the-pig-out-of-the-trap kind of thing. That wasn’t the case on this one.

“All I really remember was when I went to get into the truck and had started to drive myself to the hospital I apparently passed out. When my son showed up, he pulled me out of the truck and laid me on the ground and applied pressure to my right leg because there was just so much blood. The ambulance took forever, and my son kept calling them, saying ‘you need to get out here—I am losing my dad.’ It was unbelievable. I’m lucky to be alive.”

The hospital’s trauma team gave him 125 staples and stitches.

“They said if it wouldn’t have been for my son Christian Dean administering a tourniquet to my right leg I would have died.”

The pig was shot that day seven times with a Blackout assault rifle. One of Dean’s wounds was so deep it cannot be stitched up and must heal “from the inside out.” His son has started a GoFund-Me page for his dad, as they are unsure when he will be healed enough to return to work.

“I’ve been doing this for over 20 years,” Dean says. “And I’ve never had a pig like this. I think I have finally found the Super Pig.”

This story is from the January 2021 issue of Boca magazine. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.

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Marie Speed is group editor of all JES publications, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Worth Avenue, Mizner’s Dream and the annual publication for the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce. She also oversees editorial operations of the company’s Salt Lake City magazines. Her community involvement has ranged from work with the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce to a longtime board member position at Caridad Center. She is also on the George Snow Scholarship Fund review committee. She is a past officer of the Florida Magazine Association and a member of Class XVII of Leadership Florida. In her spare time, Marie enjoys South Florida’s natural world through hiking and kayaking, and she is an avid reader and an enthusiastic cook.