Thursday, 15 November 2012

Snout down in full charge: 2009

In 2009 I had plans for a trip to Zimbabwe to hunt Sable and Cape Buffalo. It was June and I off on safari in August; the brass cases from Bertam had just arrived - Lott cases head stamped Ackley. I had loaded 40 rounds with a mix of Hornady 500 grain Interlock and FMJ bullets (a collectable now that we have the DGS) that had been sitting in the cupboard for close on fifteen years. I planned to fire-form the cases using a stout but manageable load of 80gr of AR2208 and then reload them for the safari with Woodleigh's 500 grain softs and solids in front of 85gr of 2208.

I was up at the farm. A team of fencers from Killarney were doing some work on the place and they told me that they’d bumped into a boar each time they passed along a fence line in the lignum paddock. The fencer’s boar would run across the track in front of their vehicle only to be swallowed up by the scrub on the other side.

Dinner was with the locals on the first night. We knocked over a couple of bottles of red over a feed of sausages and potatoes straight off the barbecue. By 11:00pm I was buggered and ready for bed - I'd come off a 13-hour drive through the night after a long day at work.

The warbling of magpies woke me in the morning. I had slept in after the long drive – not to worry. It was cool and cloudy so the pigs would be in no rush to head back into the bush. Big Bertha came out of her case and with an apple in hand, we headed out in search of hogs.

I went looking for the fencer’s boar. I drove the fence line in lignum paddock, but no boar leapt out in front of the Toyota. He must've known I had some serious medicine on hand. I checked a few other likely spots and saw a couple of big sows in amongst the coolabah just before 9:00am. I was heading back to the shed for some lunch and thought I’d take the long way ‘round to get a third run down passed the fence line. “He crosses the road in front of us every time we pass...” I mumbled to myself - some people do exaggerate...

The boar came out from my right at a fast trot. I braked hard and as the Toyota's nose pointed into the deep sand I jumped out and cycled the bolt as I cleared the door. As the boar dived into the fence, I pulled the .450 into my shoulder, pasted the reticle on the rapidly departing pig and fired. The big pig didn’t falter and I saw dust fly metres behind the boar; a 500 grain bullet out of the .450 Ackley Magnum is always going to over penetrate on pigs! I gave him ten minutes then skipped the fence and head-down-bum-up, followed into the thick stuff.

His spoor was easy to follow and after 70 metres with my nose to the ground, I found a drop of blood amongst the deep trotter marks in the red dirt. He was hit. The blood was dark and dirty so I assumed that I had connected a bit too far back.

I slowed right down and dropped to a squat to look ahead through the twiggy mess under the lush green tops of the budda bush and turpentine. It wasn’t long before I spied the heavy form standing behind a tree. A clearing to my right provided a good place to approach the boar and put in a finishing shot.

I moved into the open clearing, the boar took a step back and turned to look at me. There was no sign of defeat in this pig; he was big and mean. The cracking sound as he snapped his jaws filled my ears. The boar put his broad head down and charged. His powerful forequarters brought him on fast, his head bobbing from side to side with each step, big ears laid flat against his head, shoulders rolling as he came...

For a second I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I don't remember which four-letter-word I used first, but there wasn't enough time to say them all, but I know they all flashed through my mind. With only metres separating us, I quickly composed myself, shouldered the .450 and sent a 500 grain Woodleigh in his direction as I stared down the 1.5 x Leupold. The bullet grazed his jawbone, shaving off the hair but leaving the skin untouched before entering in front of the shoulder and exiting at the tail end. With enough energy to kill an elephant, the boar was literally hammered into the dirt some three metres from my boots.

Trembling,  I shook my head as I thought about missing the pig.  Thankfully the "what if" scenario didn't have to come into it, there had been no time, it was all about years of hunting and a moment of pure instinct and reflex. That was brilliant!

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