SURPRISE! SURPRISE! (PART 2)
He came quietly through the tall grass, avoiding the well-travelled trails made by the bushpig...
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...
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.
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.