Just some of the six tonnes of pig meat collected around the canefields of Mackay during the Pinnacle Big Boar competition recently.

Shooting Barcoo Boars Part II

It was hot, real hot; in fact it was so hot I thought we’d be better off at camp enjoying a few cold ones. But we had plans to hunt so despite the oppressive conditions and we continued on, motoring cautiously through a sea of metre high grass and over several creek crossings before eventually stopping at a large waterhole. This was the property’s largest waterhole and always the last to dry up during drought, but we didn’t need to worry about that now as it was well and truly full and ran through several clicks of prime pig habitat.

With my Navara safely parked under a stand of shady Eucalypts, my hunting buddy, Jason and I took a few mouthfuls of cold water out of the cooler, shouldered our rifles and packs and started walking the waterhole perimeter.

As well as being a little anxious about busting a few hogs, I was also keen to give my new pig hunting rifle a thorough workout. For the last few years I’ve been using a Ruger M77 in .280 Rem and while it was a good rifle that performed well on a variety of game I needed a change, so I bought a Remington 700SP.308. To personalise my new outfit I purchased a 700XCR stock with the grey grip inserts and had it camo dipped in Proveil: Reaper Timber, this gave my rifle a unique appearance. To be honest I like the XCR stock, it’s light, comfortable to shoot and feels good too, especially the rubbery grip inserts. The outfit was scoped with a Leupold VX3 2.5-8×36 on Conetrol rings and bases.

So with my new .308 in hand, we continued walking the waterhole perimeter looking for anything out of the ordinary. Normally this time of day pigs are camped under logs, amongst shady trees or even wallowing, so we needed to stay vigilante, we couldn’t afford to be complacent. Twenty minutes later we spied a small mob of pigs wandering through the scattered scrub 50m to our left. When I first spotted them I thought they were small and hardly worth worrying about, but Jason peeled off and started walking towards them. I motioned to him that I’d keep walking ahead. As it turned out I’d only walked about 20m when something up ahead caught my attention. Sure enough, lying in the dust under some trees 50m ahead were two pigs. I couldn’t see them clearly as they were lying on their sides with their backs facing me. However, the one on the right offered a nice clear shot, so I took a quick offhand shot at him from 25m and clean missed. As expected they both jumped up and bolted, the one I shot at ran to the right and stopped 20m away, but despite being partly obscured by brush I managed to whack him in the shoulder with a 150gn Speer boat tail spitzer which dropped him on the spot, the other pig ran over to the left and also stopped, allowing for another quick shot; he also dropped on the spot.

As it turned out the first pig I shot was an absolute cracker, a tough old boar with tattered ears, battle scars and a decent set of tusks. In fact, it was one of the better pigs I’d shot during the six years of hunting this place. The other pig wasn’t too bad either; he was a smaller boar but still a tough healthy looking specimen with decent tusks. We took a few pics for keepsake and had a short break – after all the excitement it was thoroughly needed.

Twenty minutes later we started towards the end of the waterhole. It wasn’t too far away so neither of us expected to see anything especially after all the noise we just made shooting the previous two boars.

Surprisingly, just a few minutes later Jason spooked several porkers that were camped close to the waters edge. As luck would have it they ran into the open allowing him a couple of clear shots with his Remington 7600 .308. As expected both pigs dropped on the spot with successive shots. Wow, what a way to end a days hunting.

By now we were both knackered so walking back to the vehicle was foremost in our thoughts.

That night at camp we worked out a strategy for the following day. Our plan was to hunt the properties Northern boundary which over the last few years had been difficult access because the property owner was keeping his cattle in a different area and all the track were now overgrown and difficult to find. It was a nightmare of an area to traverse too, although it was a hot spot for pigs due to its isolation.

Early the following morning we left camp and motored north. As luck would have it the moment we reached the first gate we spotted a good mob of pigs feeding in the open 300m ahead. We hurriedly grabbed our rifles from the back and started walking towards them. It was dead calm so we stalked undetected to within 35m before several alert pigs looked suspiciously in our direction, we remained motionless for 30 seconds before the pigs eventually resumed feeding. We stood there briefly trying to determine which ones to shoot first. To be truthful, all were rather small and hardly worth getting excited about, even so, two successive shots and two more porkers hit the dust.

That was just the start we needed, a heart starter so to speak. We were back in the vehicle in no time and reached the property boundary 30 minutes later. We started out by looking for a small dam just to the South of the boundary fence. I’d been there previously with the owner’s son but the track leading to it was difficult to see amongst the dry grass now. Anyway, after poking around for 30 minutes we eventually found it nestled amid some trees. We stopped 200m away and walked over quietly and almost immediately spied a small boar camped under prickly bushes atop the dam wall. Just like the two boars I’d shot the previous day his back was facing us and he had no idea we were there, but he certainly got a shock when Jason whacked him in the forequarters with a 150gn Core-lokt from his Remington 7600. The startled boar jumped up, ran 20m and fell over stone dead. He wasn’t the big monster boar we’d been hoping for but a good pig all the same. We had a quick scout around the dam perimeter but saw nothing more so we walked back to the vehicle and continued on. Twenty minutes later we pulled up at the main river. It was hot now so we didn’t plan on walking too far from the vehicle, it was just going to be a quick look. We wandered along the riverbank peering down to the water’s edge periodically looking for wallowing porkers but we didn’t see too much so we made a hasty retreat back to the vehicle before the hot sun took its toll on us. By now it was nearing 100 degrees in the old scale so we headed back to camp for a cool drink and a bite to eat.

It soon got boring sitting around camp doing nothing, so after a short break we took off again. This time we headed to a huge dam about 10 clicks to the South, luckily it was only 700m – 800m off the main road so getting there was easy and we arrived in no time at all. After turning off the main road we stopped a few hundred metres short of the water and quietly stalked in hoping to catch a few pigs on the move. As we approached the dam a few dozen cattle looked warily in our direction before slowly moving off. Jason approached the dam first and quickly looked back and motioned that two pigs were up ahead. As I got closer I saw one pig feeding on a dead cow at the waters edge and another pig laying nonchalantly in the shade on the opposite bank. Jason took a quick shot at the most distant pig and scored a direct hit. In the meantime the pig feeding on the carcass bolted and was running flat out towards cover on my left. I took several hasty shots and saw plenty of dust flying but no hits. But I eventually found the mark and the pig dropped stone dead. It was a fitting end to a days hunting and now it was time to kick back and relax at the quarters.

The following day we hunted some channels adjacent the main river. As usual we split up only keeping in contact via two way radio. Our plan was to walk South for a few clicks then return via an adjacent channel 300m away. At least then we’d be covering different territory and increasing the likelihood of finding game.

As it turned out we’d only been walking a short time when Jason radioed and said there was a big mob of pigs ahead. I hurriedly walked across to his position and we both watched as the pigs moved slowly toward us. After assessing the situation for a few minutes and deciding which pigs were worthy targets we quietly chambered rounds into our respective rifles and prepared to take out the biggest three or four porkers from the twenty strong mob. We fired simultaneously and the two biggest pigs dropped on the spot, then absolute mayhem followed as pigs scattered in all directions. We continued shooting and accounted for several porkers before the remainder disappeared out of sight. After all that excitement we took a breather and let the pulse rate settle a little.

Twenty minutes later we were back in action walking for another kilometre or so but without luck. So we made a hasty retreat back to the vehicle so we could try some more productive areas further afield. We briefly stopped by the quarters to grab some more water then headed back to the same big dam we hunted the previous day. Just like we did the day before, we stopped a few hundred metres short and elected to walk in and surprise anything that may have been lurking about.

With the temperature now hovering around the late 30’s we were damn sure pigs wouldn’t be camped too far from water, so from the moment we got out of the vehicle we were on the lookout and anywhere pigs were likely to be camped was thoroughly investigated. As it turned out, as soon as we walked into the scattered Mulga and Gidgee surrounding the dam we saw a mob of six or seven camped in the shade, they were laying in a bed of thick dust and completely unaware of our presence. Jason moved closer while I stayed back watching the action from afar. Well it was action a plenty as Jason let loose, emptying the magazine on his 7600 .308. Pigs scattered in all directions and the end result was three pigs down and out for keeps.

Despite making a hell of a racket we decided to hang around a little longer hoping for something to appear from within the scattered scrub around the dam. To our surprise it wasn’t that long before more pigs came wandering out of the scrub, this time however, I was waiting with my Remington 700. 308 and the instant the biggest pig presented a clear shot I whacked him in the shoulder with a 150gn Speer, the remaining pigs, well, they were only little tackers that quickly disappeared back into the scrub.

As sad as it was they were the last pigs taken on our short hunting trip. Now we had the unenviable task of packing up and returning home, although there was still one thing we needed to do.

That evening we cruised down to see the property owner who hadn’t been home for the duration of our trip. As it turned out he’d just arrived back from a trip to Toowoomba to pick up his daughter from boarding school. While we chatted over a few drinks he informed us the property was up for sale and he’d be moving on the greener pastures. Well, of course, that’s not the sort of news we wanted to hear, although at the end of the day it’s out of our control. What do they say? When one door closes another opens. Only time will tell I suppose, but a new place shouldn’t be too hard to find, especially with landowners desperate to keep pig numbers down.

This article was first published in Sporting Shooter Magazine April 2013




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