A Tale Of Three Pigs
Hunting and Wildlife Magazine - Issue 217 Winter
Words By: Kate Aynsley
There is a DOC block that Greg and I frequent a couple of times each year and it seems to carry a steady population of pigs. You are guaranteed at the very least a visual or two each day. We have had successes there along with some failures, and faux pas’ that we would laugh about later. It is staggering how much ground they can cover for their size and structure, along with how much damage just a small mob can do.
I feel quite fortunate that I can be involved in helping control their numbers when we are here, and our families’ freezers hopefully get to reap some of the spoils.
However, my first opportunity did not quite play out this way. Greg and I had covered a fair bit of area at the south end of the block this day and we were headed for camp. He was back behind me and had stopped to glass an adjacent face. I had carried on past a rock face just ahead of us and dropped down into the start of a tight gut. Movement to my right in the long tussock caught my eye. It was a massive ginger razor-back boar adorned with black spots and would soon across my path. He had the most impressive ‘Mohawk’ that went the full length of his body. I immediately dropped to the ground hoping not to be spotted. I pulled my phone out from my pocket for some photos…I know what you’re thinking…. where is her rifle. I had placed this on the ground to get my phone out lol. The boar was mooching along without a care in the world heading towards the bush to my left. I looked for Greg to see what I should do as I was not sure whether to take him or not as I knew there was a good stag in the area. But I could not see Greg. Later I was to find out he was at the rocks doing that whisper/yell voice repeating “Kate, take him”. When I finally did hear him, the newly named ‘Boris’ was quite close to the bush edge. I picked up my new 7mm-08 and lined up on him (I was about to again add to my growing toolbox of learnings) and squeezed off a round. A miss, I couldn’t believe it. The shot felt bang on. Unfortunately, this was a new rifle with a new scope that had adjustable turrets which I had never used before. Over the day, taking it on and off my shoulder, I must have knocked the dial and taken it off zero which sent the shot high. Lesson learned as I watched his butt disappear into the manuka scrub. Greg went in for a look, but he was nowhere to be seen. Many a laugh has been had over this day.
My first solo pig.
My next opportunity was on this very same ridge, we were travelling up it from the main creek. We had been glassing across to an adjacent face whilst tucked in some large tussocks to try and stay out of the strong southerly breeze that was bearing down on us. It was a great spot, almost like we were sitting in lazy boy chairs. Scout, Greg’s GSP had nested under another. Suddenly we saw a pig come through from the station that backed onto the DOC block. It was heading towards the face we were on. We decided to boot it and hopefully cut her off before she made it past us and over to the other side of the ridge.
By the time we got over two guts and neared the top of where we thought we needed to be she was nowhere to be seen. Greg and I decided to split up and see if one of us could lay eyes on her. Let me just say that Greg and I trust each other unreservedly and carry radios so if we change our plan, it is relayed back to the other. Scout proceeded to ditch me to follow Greg, but this was to be short lived as she hates the thought of missing out on anything food or hunting related, and soon arrived back by my side. She did this a few times but ended up back with me in the end.
I had moved up the side of the gut about 50m when I saw a nice wee ram taking shade under the canopy of a stand of trees. He was acting a little strange as he got to his feet, his attention was locked onto something in the gut. Sure enough he was staring straight at our pig as she fed her way up the gully. Scout had also spotted her and was on full point, her body was convulsing with excitement. I needed to close the gap; from the top it would have been quite an angled shot. I told her to get in and carefully made my way down into the gut. I snuck within an easy range, put Scout in a sit-stay and settled myself, after rechecking my turrets. I clicked off the safety and squeezed the trigger. She leapt in the air and went down into a clump of tussock; Scout had left her stay as soon as she heard the shot and was already in the tussock (something for us to work on later with her). If the shot hadn’t woken the hill my yelling at her would have. I was more concerned about the damage the pig could do to her if it wasn’t dead as there was a lot of movement coming from there. As it turned out the movement was in fact Scout biting at the carcass.
The pig that came with lessons.
One of my favourite parts of a pig is the heart and I was envisaging this thinly sliced and fried in butter but that was not to be as the shot had blown it apart. She was a great wee eater all the same. Greg was stoked with my success as this was my first unaided kill. The training wheels were starting to come off. We broke her down and let her cool a bit before taking her back to camp.
My third pig was met with heartache and the reality that not every shot is going to be perfect but also the importance of following through. It was a crystal-clear day that was only spoilt by quite a strong breeze. We were again at the same ridge which is now called ‘piggy ridge’ when we saw a sow with her three weaner piglets. They were through the creek on an opposite face and likely heading to a swampy looking scrubby gut 15m away. Greg and I agreed it would be good to take out the sow, so we sat and watched for a good broadside shot. They made it safely to the scrub, so we waited. They seemed to have settled for a bit of a siesta, so I made the most of this opportunity to move down to a manuka patch that would conceal me from their view.
I had been so focused on the sow that I had completely missed another pig that had wandered up behind them. Greg was again in the position of wondering why I was not taking a shot. He slowly stalked down to me and pointed her out. He thought it was the sow, but I was confident she had not moved as I had not taken my eyes off her. I found her in my binos and traded them for my rifle (Another lesson was soon to be added to the toolbox). I was not 100% confident on the distance but lined her up and took the shot…it was low, she had been further away than thought, I had not allowed for enough drop, my heart sank as I realized I had blown out her front leg.
She was now sprinting off with this leg dragging. It was just awful. I booted off along the ridge to hopefully get another shot or cut her off, whilst Greg jumped the creek in case she went up and over the ridge. She just did not stop and must have covered well over 500m before she made a sudden turn towards me. My heart was racing, and I was out of breath. The pressure was on as it was going to be a close range shot if she came through the creek to me. Suddenly there she was, I leaned on some manuka and quickly made the lethal shot. She was down and no longer suffering. I felt terrible about what had led up to this moment but also relieved it was now over for her. They may be a pest, but I don’t like the idea of any animal suffering.
After a couple of photos, I set to work with Scout overseeing me aka waiting for her spoils. I did not disappoint. After letting her cool for a bit, we packed up and headed back to camp. Those steaks were going to be amazing.
I am learning to take the good with the bad because that is hunting, and also that I am not going to get it right every time. I may not always get an animal when we are out, but I always enjoy what I have around me and never take it for granted, appreciating how lucky we are to live in this amazing country. It is so easy to pass hours as you sit there taking in the views that surround you, the chatter of birds in the bush and the sound from the creek below running over rocks and debris. This is what I love about hunting.