Friday, 9 November 2012

Snout down in full charge: 2006

It's difficult to describe unless you've stood there and faced a charge, but when a game animal bears down on you with any sort of intent, it's frightening and exhilarating all at the same time. For me, I feel the sickening tightness in my gut, a quickening of the pulse that borders on unhealthy, the hair on the back of my neck prickle and a rush of heat through my head!  It's not for everyone, but the rush of adrenalin that comes with a hunt bordering on dangerous is invigorating!

The thought of a potential charge has always been a driving force for my hunting adventures, and a big part of the allure of hunting hogs, scrubbers and buffalo is that it might happen. I'm no Mark Sullivan, but knowing that game animals might come - fast, head down and eager to roll you tends to inspire some of us hunters to get out there and do it again. I've had two excellent charges from boars in south west Queensland over the years, the first in the heat of January 2006...

With the mercury topping out at 46°C, I was sitting on the far side of a ground tank waiting for pigs to come to water at dusk. A sounder of seventeen swine came in at last light with a decent boar amongst them. They rushed in for a drink, the younger pigs having a splash before racing off into the scrub.

This tank had gone boggy so we'd fenced it off to keep the sheep and cattle out. As the mob zipped off, the boar was at the tail end of the mob and I sent a fancy 150 grain green-tipped Nosler slug down range as he ducked under the fence.  It was the only shot I had - he faltered, hit hard - but ran. And then it was dark.

Early next morning I was back at the boggy tank after a coffee and two scotch fingers. At the fence I found some blood splatter in the dust, dark blood, so hopefully a low chest shot and I'd find the pig piled up in no time.

Down the embankment there was no sign so I was on my hands and knees looking for blood. The boar was moving quickly so it was only small drops. Fresh tracks on the softer ground and more blood was promising; couple of saucer-sized pools were still sticky in the middle. As I crawled along the spoor I couldn't feel the Galvanised Burr biting at my knees...

I had covered about 400 yards when I found a mass of blood where he had stopped. Up ahead was a big old Coolabah with scrub growing hard up to the trunk; it was the only Coolabah I could see for some distance so I put on my proper hog hunters thinking cap: "..if I were a hunter tracking a wounded hog on this stinking hot morning on this endless scrubby flat, I'd head for the shade of that Coolabah..." - and seeing as I was a was a hunter tracking a wounded hog in the heat on a scrubby flat - that's just what I did...

As soon as I stood up I felt the Galvanised Burr - "Ouch!" - pimples of blood peppered my dusty knees as I brushed off the dirt and sticks and burrs. I had been crawling with the bolt closed on an empty chamber to keep the jungle out of my rifle, so I fixed that up quick-smart and started to walk. I inched forward, twisting the power selector on the compact Leupold hard down to the left to confirm it was set to 1.5x - it's always set to 1.5!  I scanned the scrub for pig. Then I inched forward some more.

I don't know how much ground he'd covered when I realised the boar was coming. I heard the rush of a heavy body moving through the undergrowth, the crunch of dry leaves under the Coolabah, the kicking of dirt as he moved quickly towards me. In half a fraction of a second I had the reticle on the rocketing snout and I fired.  The bullet caught the boar just above his right eye and the impact planted his face in the dirt six metres from my boots.

Turned out the shot I took the night before had gone slightly wide, smashing into the back of the foreleg and creating a superficial wound to the chest. Hardly ideal, and terrible that the pig had to sit through the night in that state, however if I had gone back to the car for a torch and tried to follow up I reckon he would have had enough go in him to run, and he'd be gone. I was happy with how it turned out. This pig hunting business really is good stuff.

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