Mountain boars are among the most elusive ferals. Fit, fast and wary, they tend to stay up on the tops until night, hang around in gullies and take full advantage of the thick scrub you typically find in steep country. Finding them can be a matter of sheer luck.
Of course, you can make your own luck. I’d left goat carcasses in the low ground as baits and just over week ago shot a young boar on them, but there’d been no sign of anything else coming for a feed. Still, on this wet and miserable Saturday evening, I’d been stuck indoors too long so kitted up and went for a walk with the rifle. I didn’t really expect to be hunting.
I followed the creek around to the carcasses. Nothing had disturbed them. I strolled down the track and had gone about 100m when two roos bounded down the opposite hill, into the gully and up the rise above me, going full tilt. Hmm. Something wasn’t right.
They stopped on the spur and looked back. They had to be looking at something, but what? I squatted and followed their gaze. Moments later, a black shape with distinctive flapping ears trotted into sight. Beauty! No wonder the roos had taken flight. (Continued below video.)
And there’s a trick for you: always pay attention to what the wildlife is doing. You’ll pick up all sorts of clues.
The pig was big, surely a boar. He went out of sight behind a large tree, but I didn’t see him come out again. I crept closer. No sign of it. There was only one real explanation, and that was Marcus’s billy goat. Marcus O’Dean had come for a hunt and dropped this goat on the hill just behind where I’d last seen the pig. We’d opened its gut so the smell would come on strong. The boar must have got a whiff and gone to investigate.
Five minutes later, having climbed above him and settled among some trees, I peered over the hill and there he was, having a good chew. The poor old goat had somehow twisted into a macabre pose, its head resting on its horns and nose pointing to heaven.
I watched for a while, then lined up and shot the boar. The 150gn softpoint hit behind the shoulder – not where I’d aimed – and the pig took off at a million miles an hour. For a moment I thought I’d missed, but no, I couldn’t have, not from just 30 metres. Without slowing, the boar streaked around the hill, through the gully, then arced around and back down again like a fighter plane going down in flames. He crashed into the bottom of the gully and died.
The bullet had done its work, and when I checked the rifle’s zero next day I found the problem with my aim. The screw on the front QD mount had come loose a full turn. The rifle was shooting all over the shop and was as far as 40cm out at 100m. I soon fixed that!
I don’t know what the boar weighed, but he was a lump to drag around and position for a photo. Hanging by his back legs, he was almost as tall as my 183cm. Biggest one I’ve got around here, anyway. And his tusks, while not huge, were old, worn and damaged. He’d been around a fair while.
The interesting thing was the white mark on his flank. He’d been wounded in a fight with another boar and sported a torn and deep hole under his hide. The infection was almost beaten but the injury was still weeping pus.
So there’s at least one more up there somewhere – one big enough to give this old mountain boar a good fight. I’ll keep checking on these carcasses. You never know your luck.