Floodplain Monsters

Leonard, our aboriginal guide led the way. He knew all the swamps, creeks and waterholes on this remote Arnhemland outstation, so it was his local knowledge that was hopefully going to lead us to a few decent pigs. Of course, all we had to do was keep up with him as he led us bare footed at a fast pace through this tough and testing terrain.

Unexpectedly, only 30 minutes later, we struck pay dirt. Led by guide, Karl Goodhand, Leonard, my buddy Adam and I skirted the perimeter of a large paperbark swamp. It was just one of those places that looked promising.. I could feel it in my bones. This place had the sensation of “expect something to happen anytime soon” And that’s exactly what did happen ! Only a few minutes later after crossing another dried up swamp dotted with a minefield of rock hard pig diggings, Karl pointed to a large dark shape camped amid paperbarks on the swamp perimeter. I looked long and hard through the binos and sure enough, it was a boar, and a damn big boar too.

I was up for the shot , so I moved into position, but the boar was situated at such an odd angle that a decent lung shot (my favourite) was out of the question. I moved around a little and eventually opened up a small window of opportunity where I could hopefully squeeze a 150gn Nosler Accubond from my 308.

At the shot, the boar jumped up and spun around a few times before I eventually managed to slip another pill behind his front leg , which dropped him on the spot. It turns out he was an absolute monster maybe tipping the scales at 130kg. Karl said “ he was in the top six boars he’d seen shot in the territory.”. So as you can imagine, we were all pretty happy with the outcome, especially since we’d only been hunting 30 minutes.

As luck would have it, we poked around another few hours but saw nothing. Like all types of hunting, that’s just the way things go, especially up here in the top end, its either “heaven or hell”

However, our luck changed dramatically the following day when we hunted a small creek close to camp. This particular creek only had intermittent waterholes a few hundred metres apart, but it was enough to keep pigs in the area. We started out by slowly weaving downstream and it wasn’t too long before a big sow jumped up and just stood there not quite knowing what to do. Of course, being Johnny on the spot, I flattened her with a quick shoulder shot from my 308. Now with runs on the board we were hoping to see a little more action, so we continued on. We had only walked another few hundred metres when a good solid boar jumped up and took off toward the scrub on the opposite side of the creek. A pig running flat out can often present a challenging shot and can often get away if a hunter isn’t quick enough. But with so much lead flying, this pig had no chance of getting away and eventually succumbed only a few metres from completely disappearing into long grass. Now things were really starting to hot up. Two good porkers in quick succession. What was next ?

We walked on, continually glancing down into the remaining pockets of water to see if anything was wallowing or camped up along the undercut in the creek bank. As it turned out, we’d only walked another few hundred metres when another big boar busted out of a wallow and made a beeline for thick cover on our right. My buddy Adam was onto him in a flash and flattened the brute with two consecutive shots from his Remington 7600.308. Hell, those 150gn Remington Core-lokts worked a treat and that boar had no chance of escaping. I kept telling Adam he only got the boar thanks to a couple of lucky shots, although he seemed to think it was his remarkable marksmanship that made the difference.

Of course, by now, we were pretty well spent but we continued on hoping for more good fortune. Light was fading fast so we needed something to happen soon, real soon. We’d just about given up all hope of seeing anything more when without warning another big boar erupted from the creek 

just a few metres below us. As with every other pig we’d shot along this creek he ran towards heavy cover on the opposite bank. Both Adam and I moved a little to one side so we could get a clear shot. In this area there always seemed to be a myriad of branches and shrubs blocking our view but on this occasion we eventually got clear vision before the boar completely disappeared out of sight. Admittedly, both of us took some rather hasty shots at the fast fleeing hog, but eventually one of us scored a solid hit and the pig rolled over stone dead. We wandered over and took a few pics as a permanent reminder of what turned out to be a truly big boar and a very eventful day.

The following day was even more interesting as Leonard took us deep into some really remote back country. Our plan was to hit isolated swamps and creeks in a bid to get some truly big boars in country that was rarely, if ever hunted. First up, we started walking a small spring fed creek in some very inviting country. By that I mean, it just looked like country that contained lots of pigs. We started off well too. After only walking a few hundred metres a good boar erupted from a wallow as we walked by. Adam wasted no time and dropped the fast fleeing hog with another well placed shot from his Remmy 7600. Of course, as per normal, after our early success our hopes were high that we were really going to get amongst them, but things didn’t quite turn out that way.

We ended up walking a few more clicks and saw plenty of old sign, wallows, diggings, etc but there was no water, and of course, no water means no pigs. In hindsight we were probably 3-4 weeks too late to hunt this particular area, so we headed back to the vehicle At least now we know to hunt this particular area a little earlier. Oh yeah, I do plan on coming back.

Later that afternoon, we made our way to another area that also had a dwindling water supply. But at least there was water still there, so hopefully pigs wouldn’t be too far away.

The four of us trudged along in single file trying to avoid the pig diggings that made tripping a regular event. We eventually managed to see a few porkers but they always seemed to get the drop on us, so we didn’t have much success initially, however, we eventually came to a spot where the country was more open and we could at least get a good look at something if it was 50m-60m away as opposed to just about walking on top of something before seeing it.

That was when my intrepid hunting mate Adam spotted two boars camped together 20m away, but the pigs spotted us quickly and bolted. With two good boars running off fast I singled out the closest one and lined him up for a shot, but Adam had the same idea and just as I was about to fire off a shot the closest pig dropped dead in its tracks. By now, the bigger of the pair had virtually disappeared out of sight. I did manage to get a quick look at him through the scope but it was hardly worth taking a shot as he was well and truly out of range.

We kept walking, but being close to the coast it wasn’t too long before we came upon Mangroves and brackish water, so we turned back and discussed our remaining options for the day.

Due to the lack of good pig numbers in areas we had already hunted, we made the faithful decision to travel to another spot where Karl does most of his early season Buffalo hunting. We left camp before daybreak arriving at our hunting grounds a few hours later, but like most places in the NT in late September everything was pretty dry with most swamps being nothing more than cracked earth.

Even so, this place looked promising because at least there was a few good waterholes with water still in them.

We parked the vehicle and the four of us piled out, filled our back packs with water and started walking the paperbarks surrounding one of the larger swamps. There was plenty of ploughed up earth indicating that pigs were somewhere close by. We just had to find them. Of course, finding bedded down pigs amid a sea of paperbarks isn’t as easy as it seems and it’s just as easy to walk by without ever seeing them or without them even moving. They’re usually sound asleep anyway.

Being our last day we poked around in the hot sun for a few more hours but had little success. It was either we weren’t looking hard enough or we were all knackered. I’m inclined the think it was the latter. But whichever way you look at it, we walked plenty of kilometres and got amongst some big Arnhemland pigs in some interesting and remote country which is seldom hunted. For anyone wanting to get amongst some quality pigs call Goodhand outback adventures on 0409 024989







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