SUR­PRI­SE! SUR­PRI­SE! (PART 2)

He ca­me qui­et­ly through the tall grass, a­voi­ding the well-tra­vel­led trails ma­de by the bushpig...

SA Jagter Hunter - - VOORBLAD -

DP BIER­MAN

It was back in A­pril 2005 w­hen my cou­sin, Zan­der, and I de­ci­ded to hunt bushpig with bow and ar­row, main­ly be­cau­se it is such a chal­len­ge. Back then we did not ha­ve trail ca­me­ras, pro­per rhe­o­stat lig­hts or fee­ders to ma­ke t­hings a litt­le e­a­sier.

For us hun­ting bushpig with a bow me­ant scou­ting a lar­ge a­rea for signs of the­se a­ni­mals. On­ce we’ve found po­si­ti­ve signs of bushpig acti­vi­ty we se­lected a bai­ting spot ba­sed on the a­vai­la­bi­li­ty of a tree (for our rhe­o­stat lig­ht) and so­me ne­ar­by brush w­he­re we could build a blind of bran­ches or set up a po­pup blind. We had to pre­pa­re the bai­ting spot in such a way t­hat the pigs would pre­sent a bro­ad­s­i­de or quar­te­ring a­way shot w­hen they co­me in to feed. With the bait si­te pre­pa­red we built a tem­po­ra­ry brush blind to pro­vi­de so­me struc­tu­re in ca­se we wan­ted to set up a po­pup blind la­ter.

It is im­por­tant to ha­ve so­me re­sem­blan­ce of a blind re­a­dy w­hen you s­tart put­ting out the bait. T­hat way the pigs will get u­sed to the se­tup and they will ig­no­re the blind on­ce they are fee­ding pro­per­ly at the bait si­te. We pla­ced a sour mai­ze mix at the ba­se of the tree and co­ve­r­ed it with a cou­ple of rocks and logs. To com­ple­te the se­tup we al­so put out sour mai­ze in long, thin li­nes le­a­ding a­way from the bait spot for at le­ast 50 y­ards. We ho­ped t­hat would help the bushpigs in fin­ding the bait. Then we wai­ted...

THE FEE­DING

We put out fresh bait at around the sa­me ti­me e­very day. The fee­ding spot was in a ni­ce, qui­et cor­ner of the pro­per­ty and the sur­roun­ding views we­re very sce­nic. It was c­lo­se to a cou­ple

of big raas­blaar trees and boul­ders, up on a rid­ge t­hat had a roc­ky out­crop on the wes­tern si­de and a san­dy, o­pen sa­van­nah plain to­wards the e­ast. To get to the spot with a s­mall utility quad bi­ke, lo­a­ded with a big buc­ket of sour mai­ze, we ac­tu­al­ly had to ma­ke a ro­ad of a­bout 300 y­ards long.

Just a si­de no­te: Du­ring the be­gin­ning y­e­ars of our bushpig hun­ting we dis­co­ve­r­ed t­hat pig dung is a cer­tain sign of acti­vi­ty in an a­rea, not just dig marks and tracks. We soon le­ar­ned t­hat our success ra­te clim­bed (87% hit ra­te) w­hen we ma­de the fee­ding spot c­lo­se to pla­ces w­he­re we had found dung. The sa­me ru­le ap­plies to wart­hog.

PIGS ON BAIT

We we­re very for­tu­na­te with our at­tempt. Pigs we­re on the bait within three days! We we­re su­re they we­re bushpig, be­cau­se of the rough acti­vi­ty around the fee­ding spot. The rocks and logs we­re scat­te­red and t­he­re we­re plough marks and big round pig tracks e­ver­y­w­he­re. Our ef­forts had paid off! Be­cau­se we did not ha­ve a ca­me­ra or a fee­der, we had to cle­ar the ground of grass and le­a­ves around the fee­ding spot e­very day. We had to be back t­he­re in the mor­nings at first lig­ht, be­fo­re bi­rds and ver­vet mon­keys vi­si­ted and spoi­led the tracks ma­de by the pigs at nig­ht.

It was im­por­tant to find out from which di­recti­on the pigs ca­me and in which di­recti­on they left. We kept t­his up for se­ven days, with the pigs fi­nis­hing the bait e­very nig­ht. Then, on day eig­ht, it was ti­me to set up a pro­per blind and “brush” it up. Our ex­ci­te­ment was buil­ding. If the blind did not bot­her them we would sit for a bushpig within a few days. Su­re e­nough, the next mor­ning we we­re de­lig­h­ted to find t­hat the pigs had vi­si­ted a­gain... the blind did not bot­her them.

RE­A­DY FOR THE HUNT

On day ten we got re­a­dy to be in the blind be­fo­re dark. I u­sed a Mat­hews S­wit­chback bow with a 30” draw length and 70lbs draw weig­ht. My ar­row was a Gold Tip Pro Hunter 7595 with a Muz­zy 125gr 3-bla­de bro­ad­he­ad. The to­tal weig­ht of the ar­row was 405gr. Af­ter tes­ting all our e­quip­ment for the nig­ht, we he­a­ded off to the spot at around three in the af­ter­noon. An hour la­ter we we­re in the blind, re­a­dy for acti­on and su­per ex­ci­ted.

Within 30 mi­nu­tes the bush went a litt­le qui­e­ter and re­a­li­ty star­ted to sink in, drag­ging so­me a­dre­na­lin with it. The next mo­ment we he­ard so­mething wal­king through the tall grass from the sa­van­nah plain’s si­de. We look­ed at e­ach ot­her just to con­firm t­hat we both he­ard the sound. It was still lig­ht and the roc­ky out­crop was cas­ting a long s­hadow from the west o­ver the sa­van­nah. I re­a­li­sed t­hat the wind di­recti­on was not i­de­al if the pigs ca­me through the o­pen grass­land, we ex­pected them to c­lo­se in from the roc­ky si­de. A thou­sand thoug­hts we­re run­ning through my he­ad. Was it a bushpig co­ming in be­fo­re it was e­ven dark? W­hat we­re the chan­ces of scen­ting us?

By the ti­me the pig had pas­sed the point w­he­re it would ha­ve smel­led us, I knew the hunt was on and so was my pig fe­ver. I was shaking li­ke a le­af in the wind. T­he­re we­re se­ver­al pat­hs le­a­ding to the bait si­te, but t­his pig ca­me qui­et­ly through the tall grass, a­voi­ding the well-tra­vel­led trails. The next mo­ment the a­ni­mal’s he­ad pop­ped out of the grass and I im­me­di­a­te­ly no­ti­ced the w­hi­te tus­ks. »

A MASSIVE WART­HOG

» It was a hu­ge wart­hog bo­ar. The a­ni­mal took a cou­ple of steps for­ward and stop­ped, stan­ding bro­ad­s­i­de at 17yds. Shaking e­ven mo­re now I drew the bow string and tried to get the sig­ht pin to sett­le on his shoul­der. I held my bre­ath and pun­ched t­hat trig­ger! The pig bol­ted and stop­ped af­ter a­bout 20yds with his he­ad held high. He then trot­ted a­not­her 15yds, stop­ped a­gain look­ing back o­ver his shoul­der. Then he wal­ked off and di­sap­pea­red o­ver the roc­ky rid­ge. My he­art sank... Did I just miss the big­ge­st wart­hog I had e­ver seen in my li­fe? The shot felt good, but the pig did not re­act as if he was hit at all. I was su­re though t­hat I he­ard the ar­row hit.

I look­ed at my cou­sin. “Man did you see tho­se tus­ks?” he said. We wai­ted for a­bout 10 mi­nu­tes and then took up the spoor. We star­ted at the spot w­he­re we last saw the pig be­fo­re it di­sap­pea­red o­ver the rid­ge and im­me­di­a­te­ly found so­me b­lood. The b­lood trail was not g­re­at but we we­re a­ble to fol­low it for a­bout 50yds to­wards a den­se bush. As we got clo­ser we he­ard so­mething mo­ving in­si­de it and I im­me­di­a­te­ly noc­ked a­not­her ar­row. We ap­pro­a­ched very slo­w­ly on­ly to find the pig laying flat on his si­de. His he­ad was par­ti­al­ly in the air due to the hu­ge tusk res­ting on the ground. I had my trop­hy!

Cu­ri­ous to see w­he­re the ar­row had hit, I ex­a­mi­ned the hu­ge bo­ar. Well, shot pla­ce­ment was ac­tu­al­ly good, ni­ce and low in t­hat cre­a­se be­hind the front leg. On the far si­de the ar­row had ex­i­ted a­bout two in­ches be­hind the shoul­der cre­a­se. Alt­hough the ar­row struck a litt­le furt­her back than I wan­ted it to, the shot was still de­ad­ly. The a­ni­mal’s stran­ge re­acti­on af­ter the shot is still a mys­te­ry. We fe­t­ched the quad bi­ke, lo­a­ded the pig and got ho­me af­ter dark w­he­re we took a num­ber of pic­tu­res. We ne­ver me­a­su­red the tus­ks pro­per­ly, but they we­re so­me­w­he­re c­lo­se to 14 in­ches. W­hat an u­nex­pected sur­pri­se!

Our ti­me was up, I had to go back to work and Zan­der to school. The bushpigs would ha­ve to wait for a­not­her oc­ca­si­on. As it tur­ned out we on­ly re­tur­ned to t­hat pro­per­ty two y­e­ars la­ter. It was worth it though be­cau­se we ma­na­ged to kill two bushpigs – I shot one with my bow and Zan­der got one with his .22 LR.

The hu­ge wart­hog bo­ar men­ti­o­ned in the sto­ry. I shot him at a fee­ding spot we cre­a­ted for bushpigs.

Pho­to: Nic de Brui­ne.

Pa­tien­ce is the na­me of the ga­me w­hen you am­bush ga­me.

Two y­e­ars la­ter Zan­der and I re­tur­ned to the sa­me pro­per­ty and we ma­na­ged to get two bushpigs – I with my bow and Zan­der with his .22LR.

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