The G­re­at Lo­w­veld BushpigWar

SA Jagter Hunter - - NEWS - By HER­MAN JON­KER

De­cla­ring war on pesky bushpigs can be a ris­ky bu­si­ness.

Bushpigs? Yes, I know, they can cau­se a lot of da­ma­ge. I’ve seen it. I was sit­ting in the Bar­ber­ton Club w­hen the call ca­me. It was John­ny van Ton­der from do­wn Louw’s C­reek way. To say that John­ny was a­gi­ta­ted would be an un­der­sta­te­ment; John­ny was the hell in. He’d just a­bout had it with far­ming, he said. The bank was on his back a­bout that lo­an he’d ma­de to fix the trac­tor’s en­gi­ne, but how the hell must he pay them back if they won’t ad­van­ce him so­mething to get the to­ma­toes in­to the ground? It’s a­bout ti­me, he said, he too got tough. For star­ters he’s going to sort out the bushpigs that had ta­ken o­ver the su­gar­ca­ne field w­he­re they we­re now far­ming for t­heir own ac­count.

Would I co­me and lend a hand, he as­ked. On Sa­tur­day nig­ht he’s going to war with them. Big ti­me.

W­hen I re­por­ted for the war at a­bout four that Sa­tur­day af­ter­noon John­ny was al­re­a­dy pa­cing the stoep. “To­nig­ht’s the nig­ht,” he said. “Look w­hat I’ve got.” He sho­wed me a drum-fed, se­mi-au­to 12 bo­re shot­gun on­to which he’d rig­ged a flash­lig­ht with in­su­la­ti­on ta­pe and wi­re.

His neig­hbour, old Oom Jaco with the di­a­be­tes was al­so t­he­re, st­rug­gling to get to the end of a sto­ry of how they on­ce kil­led 16 bushpigs in one nig­ht in the old days. “All it ta­kes is coura­ge,” he kept re­pe­a­ting whi­le pat­ting his tum­my. “Coura­ge – I’m tel­ling you.” Be­si­des ex­pe­rien­ce and a pair of f­a­ded kha­kis that we­re ap­pa­rent­ly full of coura­ge, he’d broug­ht al­ong an an­cient si­de­by-si­de shot­gun.

John­ny’s wi­fe, Su­san, ser­ved cof­fee whi­le we wai­ted for her brot­her Ed­die, who on­ly ca­me off shift at Con­sort Mi­ne at fi­ve. Ed­die would be car­rying a .303 lo­a­ded with am­mo he’d ma­na­ged to w­heed­le out of old Joe Ha­gen, who still had a fair ho­ard of .303 mi­li­ta­ry ball from his ti­me in the com­man­dos.

In the me­an­ti­me a ve­ri­ta­ble im­pi of hel­pers had been gat­her- ing be­hind the shed in the far­my­ard. The­se we­re “mer­ce­na­ries”, for John­ny had put out word a­bout the hunt and as­ked for bra­ve men with fe­ar­less dogs to re­port. They’d be well-re­war­ded with bushpig me­at, he pro­mi­sed. So t­he­re they we­re, with a­bout 20 mon­grels al­re­a­dy ho­w­ling and rai­sing hell, re­vved up by the wild war cries of t­heir o­w­ners and t­heir stick-swin­ging brot­hers in arms. John­ny twi­ce tried to to­ne the lot do­wn, but to no a­vail. T­heir thirst for b­lood was fast ap­pro­a­ching fe­ver pitch out t­he­re be­hind the shed.

Ed­die fi­nal­ly ar­ri­ved in a cloud of dust, ac­com­pa­nied by his gi­r­lf­riend’s youn­ger brot­her who was do­wn for the wee­kend from Jo’burg. It so hap­pe­ned that t­his young bi­ker-ty­pe had his new 9mm pis­tol with him. “It’s cool, ek sê,” he de­cla­red. “The ti­ming’s sharp – I’ve hoe­ka been checking a­round for a c­han­ce to ma­ke my first kill.”

It was get­ting dark now, so John­ny was­ted no ti­me get­ting the ranks in or­der. All tho­se un­der 15 y­e­ars of age we­re wee­ded out and sent ho­me, al­ong with a suckling bitch and her four pups. But the­se out­cas­ts then com­plai­ned that they

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