When it all comes together - By Thommo Baxter
A shrill squeal broke the morning silence followed by a heavy throaty roar. Somewhere up ahead, in the grey morning light, a boar was warning off a rival. Having just jumped a bedded fallow buck my level of alertness was already high but it peaked even higher with another fighting squeal. The pigs were close. Sneaking along the edge of a watercourse the wind was sounding treacherous and started swinging in behind me. The noise from the pigs came from below the creek bank, so I headed higher up the grassy face hoping that any scent would drift over and not into them.
Moving on another thirty metres gave the first glimpse of the mob. Two medium sized boars were shaping up to each other in a mud filled backwater. There appeared to be several small sows further along feeding amongst the reeds on the creek’s edge. However lots of foliage was blocking the view so it was difficult to see the entire mob. The river began to curve where the pigs were and luckily the wind funneled in towards my position. Happy to not have wrecked the party, the first part of a stalk setup was complete - now to get closer.
Approaching slowly with the wind in my face I had the advantage of being several metres higher up the bank which enabled a great view of the pigs. There were many more than I expected. The fifty metre wide backwater and its surrounding reeds were holding four boars and several sows and slips. One boar was considerably larger than the others and was feeding amongst the reeds alongside the sows. With the vantage point and advantageous wind I stood quietly and watched the other three boars patrolling around the sows and the dominant boar.
Two of the boars were in front and to the left a little, the ‘big fella’ was straight in front about forty metres out, and the third smaller reddish boar stood to the right. Trying to get in close would be difficult as the bank was covered in logs and branches from a recent flood. Not much to do but hold ground and hope for an opportunity to stalk in. Maintaining composure and not rushing in was something I had not been good at on recent hunts, so with that in mind I observed and waited.
The dominant boar was very solid. With a long, bushy tipped tail and generous lip curl that typifies an adult boar the decision to try and take him was easy. With arrow nocked, the patience level was withering. I started to wonder if I might get to make a stalk at all. How many times had I been this close and come up empty handed? Something had to change and right then it did.
Without any real reason, the red boar headed to his left which put him between me and the ‘big fella’. He reached a small, dry island almost totally surrounded by mud, then headed directly in my direction on a thin dry pad. Being above him I could see the pad would exit about ten metres straight in front of, and slightly below, my position. The boar ambled under a fallen log, then turned broadside right below me. He paused, tilted his head and exploded out of there at a great pace making an enormous racket as he went. He did not like the sight of me at all.
The noise of the escaping boar alarmed the other two boars to my left. While they did not bolt off they did escape to cover. Somehow the big boar and the sows did not see or hear any of this happening. Feeding in the water amongst the reeds obscured their sight and hearing so they remained unaware. The confidence level soared at what now seemed like a real opportunity.
Ditching the pack and side quiver in the dust, I snuck down the bank until I reached the dry pad where the red boar had exited. It was a tight squeeze getting under the log but once on the other side it was possible to stand and slink the few metres to the island. I had made it within range and none of the remaining pigs were the wiser. Now at water level the reeds were blocking the view of most of the sows, though they could still be heard. The big boar could be seen through a window in the reeds and he had moved out a little further, facing away but in full sight.
At around 15 metres he was within range but his body angle was too difficult for a shot. He turned a fraction more to his left and the angle opened up. Raising the bow slowly the string started to come back, but was let down almost immediately as he turned back again. A Texas heart shot was possible but too risky. With senses already on high the adrenalin surge was immense when the boar turned and paced several metres to the left bringing him broadside at around twelve metres.
He propped, head up perhaps searching for the other long gone boars. He noticed no movement at the string being drawn to anchor on the already raised bow. The heavy arrow left the sixty pound bow and the broadhead took the boar with an audible thud, hitting mid chest straight up the front leg. The hit position was good, but the penetration was lacking with a lot of shaft sticking up and out on the side of the impact. Thoughts were racing in the split seconds after the hit.
When hit the boar dropped a little on his haunches and took a few steps back not knowing what had happened. In his peripheral vision he caught sight of the bright orange and yellow fletches and launched forward, roaring and snapping in a one hundred and eighty degree leap. At such close range I was more than relieved to see the broadhead had run through the vitals and penetrated the off side. Life poured from the exit wound and he was done for. The adjacent sows, hearing the commotion, took off out of the water.
The boar had no idea I was there, nor of his imminent demise. On hearing the sows he too panicked and ran straight for his escape route, the dry pad that I was standing on. Despite being seconds from expiring the boar was heading right for me at a great rate. Knowing he had not seen me I held my ground until I realised that he was likely to run me over. With the boar at around five metres I did a fast pirouette off the pad into the mud. The movement startled him and he too veered onto the muddy flat, taking several more ungainly steps before he collapsed and died.
Taking a few minutes to catch my breath and regain composure, a time check revealed I had spent forty five minutes hunting the boar. A true feeling of satisfaction ensued at having taken a quality boar with the recurve and shown great patience to achieve the end result. Approaching the boar revealed a solid set of tusks that later measured a little over 26DP. Bodily he was not huge but densely built. Dragging him to a dry bank a photo session ensued. The memories from this stalk and hunt are ever-lasting, a stalk that could have ended prematurely. Luck had played its part in a big way and as the saying goes,” it is better to be lucky than good”.