THE PIG T­HAT GOT ME MARRIED

So­me­ti­mes a hunt can chan­ge your li­fe in mo­re ways than one.

SA Jagter Hunter - - INHOUD - DP BIERMAN

They cal­led him K­nop­pe be­cau­se of his big warts; he had a cut in one ear, his he­ad was a sil­very w­hi­te and his long bo­dy hair black... He was big and alt­hough ma­ny ha­ve tried to bag him, no­bo­dy could do so o­ver a pe­ri­od of three y­e­ars. K­nop­pe was the re­al de­al!

I star­ted hunting K­nop­pe af­ter I ma­de a de­al with my t­hen gi­r­lf­riend, Li­za­rie, in 2011. Ear­lier t­hat y­e­ar I told her t­hat if she ga­ve me free rein to hunt bushpig at e­very op­por­tu­ni­ty and if I succeed in shooting fi­ve big bo­ars within twel­ve mont­hs, all with bow and ar­row, I would ask her to mar­ry me. She agreed – the de­al was on!

THE CALL

In No­vem­ber 2011 I re­cei­ved a call from my friend Co­bus Pretorius from Sed­ge­field. “I think it’s K­nop­pe,” he said a­bout a big bushpig one of his trail ca­me­ras had cap­tu­red at a fee­ding s­pot. La­ter he con­fir­med t­hat it was de­fi­ni­te­ly K­nop­pe. This bushpig was very skit­tish and cun­ning. He would a­void a bait for up to two weeks af­ter be­co­ming a­wa­re of the rhe­o­stat lig­ht (a rhe­o­stat is u­sed to turn up the brig­ht­ness of the lig­ht gra­du­al­ly to a­void the pigs from get­ting a sca­re). He would u­su­al­ly ci­r­cle the bait and sur­roun­dings in or­der to sniff out any thre­ads. K­nop­pe was a true mas­ter. E­ven Co­bus, who is an ex­pert bow hun­ter, ha­ving success­ful­ly hun­ted a­bout one hund­red bushpigs, war­ned me t­hat it would be al­most im­pos­si­ble to bag this pig.

I had a plan though. S­hort­ly be­fo­re I ma­de the enga­ge­ment de­al with Li­za­rie, I had de­ve­lo­ped a nig­ht vi­si­on se­tup for mo­dern com­pound bows, which e­na­bled me to shoot in to­tal dar­kness wit­hout u­sing a lig­ht. It was qui­te a chal­len­ge to put e­ver­y­thing to­get­her. I u­sed the ad­jus­ta­ble hou­sing of a bow fis­hing la­ser sig­ht to hold a brig­ht in­fra­red la­ser and an in­fra­red torch

so I can get a cle­ar view of my qu­ar­ry. Alt­hough in­vi­si­ble to the na­ked eye both the la­ser and torch are vi­si­ble w­hen u­sing nig­ht vi­si­on e­quip­ment.

Af­ter ma­ny tes­ts and chan­ges, I finally had my se­tup tu­ned and sig­h­ted. U­sing my nig­ht vi­si­on gog­gles I was a­ble to hit a tar­get in the dark at a fixed dis­tan­ce (20yds) with no an­chor point. The re­a­son I went to all this trou­ble is be­cau­se of my li­mi­ted success ra­te with a bow on bushpig o­ver a six y­e­ar pe­ri­od. I le­ar­ned so­me hard les­sons and had ma­ny sleep­less nig­hts, thin­king the w­ho­le thing through, ma­king new plans to out­wit the­se in­cre­di­ble pigs. Ma­ny of my pre­vi­ous at­tempts fai­led be­cau­se of lig­hts, wi­res and swit­ches. With my new se­tup I ho­ped my luck would chan­ge and I be­lie­ved t­hat it would help me get K­nop­pe.

By the ti­me I was pre­pa­ring to hunt K­nop­pe, I had al­re­a­dy shot ni­ne bushpigs throug­hout the y­e­ar (four of which we­re big bo­ars). All we­re ta­ken by u­sing my nig­ht vi­si­on se­tup. I was re­a­dy to ha­ve a go at K­nop­pe but I was al­so ner­vous, kno­wing full well w­hat I was up a­gainst and being do­wn to on­ly one bo­ar be­fo­re I had to pop the big que­s­ti­on.

Li­za­rie and I flew do­wn to Ge­or­ge to meet with Co­bus and his wi­fe Ela­na for a week-long vi­sit and al­so to hunt bushpigs. Un­for­tu­na­te­ly the we­at­her was bad du­ring the first three days and mo­re than 100mm of rain fell. E­ver­y­thing was so­a­king wet and our ho­pes we­re re­al­ly low. U­pon checking the ca­me­ra we dis­co­ve­r­ed t­hat K­nop­pe ca­me to the fee­ding s­pot on­ly on­ce o­ver the past three days and the me­a­lies un­der­ne­ath the fee­der was co­ve­r­ed by wa­ter o­ver­flo­wing from a ne­ar­by creek.

T­hank­ful­ly, the rain stop­ped and the wa­ter le­vel slo­w­ly sub­si­ded. So, on the nig­ht of 27 No­vem­ber 2011 we de­ci­ded t­hat it’s ti­me!

THE SE­TUP

Two weeks ear­lier Co­bus had set up a pop-up blind. It was pla­ced do­wn­wind from the fee­ding s­pot and a­bout 18yds a­way, a­cross a creek rig­ht next to a very tig­ht fen­ce t­hat bor­ders so­me green pas­tu­res. A very ni­ce se­tup in­deed! The fee­der was hung in an oak tree, and set to dis­pen­se food at 19:00. If K­nop­pe wan­ted to ci­r­cle us to get do­wn­wind of the blind, he would need to cross the creek, which was a­bout ten me­tres wi­de and flo­wing at the ti­me, and pass through t­hat very tig­ht fen­ce. I was con­fi­dent t­hat we had a good chan­ce if the wind re­mai­ned ste­a­dy.

Be­fo­re I con­ti­nue, just a quick word on my bow se­tup. I u­sed a Bo­w­tech In­va­si­on, set at 68# (87ft/lbs KE) and Car­bon Ex­press Max­i­ma hun­ter 350 ar­rows (to­tal weig­ht with the bro­ad­he­ad was 452gr). I al­so u­sed a Nock­tur­nal lig­h­ted nock and my 100gr bro­ad­he­ad was a Ra­ge 2-bla­de.

And to gi­ve you a bet­ter un­der­stan­ding of bushpig hunting, he­re is so­me ad­di­ti­o­nal in­for­ma­ti­on:

The vi­tal or­gans of a bushpig go a litt­le bit furt­her back than tho­se of a wart­hog, the­re­fo­re a sa­fe ai­ming s­pot w­hen the pig is stan­ding bro­ad­s­i­de, is a cou­ple of in­ches (a­bout two) be­hind the shoul­der. Ho­we­ver, a s­lig­ht quar­te­ring-a­way shot is still the sa­fest. Your chan­ce of success is gre­a­ter w­hen shooting a bushpig a litt­le too far back inste­ad of a litt­le too far for­ward.

It is ad­vi­sa­ble to use a lar­ge cut­ting di­a­me­ter bro­ad­he­ad, within the li­mi­ta­ti­ons of the ki­ne­tic e­ner­gy (KE) of your bow, to en­s­u­re a good b­lood trail for tracking at nig­ht.

The KE nee­ded for a bushpig »

» is any well-pla­ced ar­row t­hat car­ries 40ft/lbs or mo­re. (It is best to shoot a fixed-bla­de bro­ad­he­ad bet­ween 40-50ft/lbs, es­pe­ci­al­ly on big bo­ars.)

So­me­ti­mes it is dif­fi­cult to pick an ai­ming s­pot be­cau­se of li­mi­ted lig­ht or the long hair on so­me bushpigs. A sa­fe ai­ming point is ex­act­ly half­way bet­ween the tip of the no­se and the tail of the pig, so ma­ke su­re t­hat the a­ni­mal is stan­ding bro­ad­s­i­de and t­hen aim for the midd­le of the midd­le.

BACK TO THE HUNT

Co­bus and Ela­na drop­ped us off and went to one of the ot­her fee­ding spots to sit for a pig as well. Li­za­rie and I got in­to the po­pup at a­bout 18:00. S­pa­ce was li­mi­ted and as dar­kness fell I po­si­ti­o­ned my bow and all my stuff in such a way t­hat I could get to it e­a­si­ly in the dark. And t­hen the long, si­lent wait be­gan.

At a­bout 20:00 I spot­ted a dark blob t­hat look­ed a litt­le out of pla­ce, so I slo­w­ly put on my nig­ht vi­si­on gog­gles and su­re e­nough t­he­re was de­fi­ni­te­ly so­mething t­he­re. It ap­pea­red to be too big for a bushpig and sin­ce it did not mo­ve for the next 10 mi­nu­tes I be­gan to think t­hat I was i­ma­gi­ning t­hings... But t­hen sud­den­ly the dark ob­ject mo­ved to the left and di­sap­pea­red wit­hout a sound! T­wen­ty mi­nu­tes pas­sed by and t­hen I sud­den­ly I he­ard a noi­se t­hat soun­ded li­ke a deep sigh... rig­ht at the fee­ding s­pot. A­gain I slo­w­ly put on my gog­gles and as my vi­si­on be­ca­me sharp, I saw a mon­ster of a bushpig stan­ding bro­ad­s­i­de at the bait. My he­art was poun­ding so hard I was sca­red he mig­ht he­ar it! As I re­a­ched for my bow the bo­ar sud­den­ly dar­ted off in­to the thic­kets for no ap­pa­rent re­a­son. The wind was per­fect, we we­re de­ad qui­et – w­hat in hell went wrong?

Af­ter two mo­re hours of si­len­ce, I had to ma­ke a de­ci­si­on: S­tay or go? I de­ci­ded to s­tay and hats off to Li­za­rie who stay­ed with me. We wai­ted for a­not­her two very long hours. It was so qui­et t­hat one could al­most ‘he­ar’ the si­len­ce. The tem­pe­ra­tu­re drop- ped shar­ply and we got so­a­king wet from the dew. It was in­cre­a­singly dif­fi­cult to s­tay po­si­ti­ve a­bout K­nop­pe re­tur­ning to the bait. Did a sixth sen­se warn him we we­re wai­ting in the blind?

Sud­den­ly, just af­ter mid­nig­ht, I he­ard a sin­gle “tunk” noi­se. It soun­ded li­ke the hoof of an a­ni­mal hit­ting a chunk of wood as it wal­ked al­ong. The hair on my arms and the back of my neck stood up and I could feel my b­lood pum­ping. Was K­nop­pe ap­pro­a­ching the bait a­gain? I slo­w­ly re­a­ched for my nig­ht vi­si­on a­gain, and t­he­re he was! I could hard­ly bre­at­he at this sta­ge. Ma­ny thoug­hts ran through my mind; w­hat if this and w­hat if t­hat? I swit­ched on my in­fra­red torch and t­hen on ca­me the brig­ht in­fra­red la­ser. K­nop­pe did not mo­ve... W­hen I was at full draw, he was still stan­ding al­most bro­ad­s­i­de so I plan­ted the green la­ser dot be­hind his shoul­der and squee­zed the trig­ger whi­le my he­art was poun­ding and my brain was scre­a­ming to shoot! In the next few se­conds, e­vents play­ed out as if in slow mo­ti­on. Through the nig­ht vi­si­on gog­gles the trail of lig­ht, left by the lig­h­ted nock look­ed li­ke brig­ht green li­quid han­ging in mid air for a mo­ment be­fo­re di­sap­pea­ring be­hind the pig’s shoul­der. K­nop­pe took off li­ke a roc­ket!

I was shaking so bad­ly t­hat I could not text Co­bus to tell him the news, so I pho­ned him. They we­re still wai­ting in the car by the main ro­ad be­cau­se it was too wet to get to their blind. They joi­ned us and u­sing torch lig­hts we star­ted tracking. S­traig­ht a­way we found a good b­lood spoor and t­hen, t­he­re he was, on­ly 60yds a­way. I was e­c­sta­tic! My dre­am had co­me true! K­nop­pe weig­hed 107kg and had 6.25” tus­ks. I ha­ve gre­at me­mo­ries a­bout this hunt and al­ways re­call them w­he­ne­ver I tell the sto­ry.

The next month Co­bus and Ela­na joi­ned us on ho­li­day in Mo­zam­bi­que. I knew t­hat they we­re dying to know w­het­her I kept my part of the de­al. Yes, I did, and she said yes... a­gain!

To be con­ti­nu­ed...

An e­c­sta­tic DP Bierman (left) and Co­bus Pretorius with K­nop­pe, the hu­ge bushpig t­hat DP success­ful­ly hun­ted by u­sing his nig­ht vi­si­on se­tup which he de­ve­lo­ped for bows.

K­nop­pe as he was cap­tu­red at a fee­ding s­pot by one of Co­bus’s trail ca­me­ras.

DP Bierman with the bushpig t­hat chan­ged his li­fe. K­no­wn as K­nop­pe, this pig weig­hed 107kg and had 6.25” tus­ks.

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