Like the title says, it’s far better being out in the bush hunting than pushing up daisies.
As many would know and probably a lot don’t, it was a very close thing for me just seven short months ago when I had a serious accident falling from a roof and breaking twenty bones including the most important one, my head, and that left me unconscious for a week with serious brain damage.
Nearly dieing makes you enjoy life that little bit more when you finally start to come good.
Thinking that this old body wouldn’t be able to ever go hunting again seemed to push me that little bit more and finally two good mates, Todd and Murray plus my son Scott took me with them on a great hunting trip.
Having not been able to actually shoot my rifle at anything other than a target in the last few weeks and not being able to walk any distance, hunting was far from my mind as Todd, Murray and I set off on a short walk to check out a couple of waterholes while Scott took out a couple of clients. So yes, we were only going for a short walk; this should be a cinch.
Putting a small Striker pack on my back with an all important bottle of water and an apple then grabbing my new toy, a .357 Magnum Marlin lever-action rifle we set off. Our short walk to a nearby water hole led to another and then another and yet another, pretty soon we were about five or six kilometres away.
It was getting quite hot, so stopping at a likely looking billabong we sat down and had a short rest. There were pig tracks everywhere and reasonably fresh wallows around the sides of the small billabongs but the pigs seemed to be in hiding.
Thinking a short swim would be great was a nice thought, but around here up in roughly the middle of Cape York, there was more than likely a decent sized crocodile in each of these large billabongs.
After our short rest we took off again and one water hole or billabong would lead to another and pretty soon we were even further away, but I was feeling really good, so we kept on for another hour or so.
The sun was nearly overhead and a great time for big boars to come in for a mid day wallow, but where the hell were they? Stopping again and fishing through my pack the apple was found, so a refreshing stop and a bite of apple each would be good.
Sitting under a nice shady tree and discussing where we would head next was quite pleasant. Murray was talking to me and saying where we might head to, when a movement to my right made me look hard into the scrub. Bloody hell it was hard to believe – it was a large black boar dripping with mud and water from a recent wallow, heading our way.
Shushing Murray down and motioning to where the pig was slowly ambling in towards us, we all froze.
Quietly slipping the red dot on and smoothly jacking a round into the chamber, we watched as the old boar just kept on ambling in, closer and then closer still.
He sure seemed like he was half asleep and all he was thinking of was a good drink and another quick wallow as he wobbled in yet closer still. Being my first hunt after my accident and mates being as good as they were, it had already been decided to give the old bloke first shot and the rifle came up to my shoulder as the boar kept looking larger and yet larger as he got closer. S
etting the red dot on his head at 40yards, the thought of squeezing one off entered my mind, but seeing as he was coming still closer it seemed wiser to wait a bit longer and really rather than head shoot him I wanted to shoot him in the shoulders and see just how good this little round would work on a decent sized boar.
At just 30yards his tusks were starting to look very large and suddenly as if on cue, he just propped and turned side on to me as if to say,” Here you go, whack one into me now!”
Well how could I refuse, so centering the red dot high on his shoulders a light squeeze on the trigger and a loud bang broke the silence? That old boar just dropped on the spot as though pole axed and gave a few feeble kicks.
Looking at the lads they just whooped a bit and said “Great stuff Ted, that little baby rifle works pretty well after all.” Ha ha, they didn’t think he would drop like that, (neither did I) and they were expecting him to take off after the shot and were both ready to back me up.
Well, this was the very first shot at game from my new rifle and my first hunt and also the first animal I had fired at since my accident and what a way to start it off? That is three firsts and I was actually hunting again with good mates and it felt really good for sure.
Sitting looking at this old boar was a great experience for me and we spent quite a bit of time just looking at him and then setting him up for a few photos. Then, realizing I had left my camera back at camp was a bit of a blow, but Murray had his camera along and was able to take some excellent photos of my first kill for the start of my life all over again. There would hopefully be many more to come yet too.
Cutting the boar open to do a bit of an autopsy, the remains of the 158grain projectile were found embedded deep in his off side shoulder between the bone and the skin and it was quite impressive really just how well this little rifle had performed for me.
Usually I don’t take the tusks any more as there’s too many lying around my place now, but this time his tusks were taken as a reminder for me of my first game taken since my accident.
After a drink we moved off slowly and then traversed many more waterholes but never spotted another pig. Spotting some wild cattle, Murray took off by himself to stalk them and check them out.
Todd and I watched him stalk in close and yet closer to the unsuspecting cattle and Murray’s camera was doing some clicking as there was no bull amongst them worth taking
a shot at. Pretty soon they were onto him and suddenly took off galloping into the distance in a cloud of dust.
Walking from one waterhole to the next and then yet another, unfortunately no more pigs being seen. We then started to head back towards the vehicle which was many clicks away now.
Putting the GPS on we had walked in a large oval of about eight kilometers and there were still three clicks to get back. Heading out and hunting hard was great, but now heading back was nowhere near having the same effect on me.
My body was really starting to play up on me now as my back was aching badly and my legs felt like two bits of soft spaghetti. Todd even asked if he could carry my rifle for me to take some load off me, but hell no, I was going to do the whole walk by myself with no help.
Another couple of bottles of water would have gone down well, but we just had to wait.
Getting back to camp that day and looking back on my first real hunt since regaining consciousness after the head injuries started to come good, brought a smile to my face.
What a way to start off my new hunting career again. Out deep in the bush with my son and two great mates, what a way to go and what more could I ask for? Thanks guys, it was a great start for sure.
This article was first published in the May 2014 issue of Sporting Shooter magazine.