Baxter Black: Hunting the wiley hog
October 23, 2012
So there I was in the early morning haze between the hours of dawn and daylight, stealthily walking across a mowed field in search of the wily feral hog. Actually the first half-mile was not as stealthy, it was more like trudging, since my packer whom we'll call Newt, had partied the night before and failed to gas up the four-wheeler.
Carrying pistols, rifles, ammo, bandoliers, reams of toilet tissue and video filming equipment, we looked more like refugees fleeing the Libyan conflict, followed by the paparazzi! Suddenly my guide, who asked us to call him Bwana, froze in his tracks! It was quite dark but we could hear his, "Shush! There, on the edge of the field, see'em?" he said.
I stared at the shadow-streaked horizon. If there was a pig I sure couldn't tell. It was all melded into the cedars and brush. We ducked behind a round bale to disguise ourselves. Doc, the videographer for the hunting show, set up his camera apparatus. Newt handed me a semi-automatic left-handed 30.06 rifle with scope. He took aim himself, while Bwana unhooked his AK-47 with electronic sight, from its shoulder strap.
I wondered at the time how we must have looked in a pig's eye view? A round bale, back-lit by the rising sun, festooned with arms, legs, heads, cameras and weapons sticking out in silhouette. A pig's eyesight is not good, so we might have appeared to them like a Mars landing module that had crashed back to Earth.
After five minutes of intense scrutiny Bwana said, "They've gone. Must have smelled us."
Then suddenly Newt said, "There's a big one!"
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Casting our attention eastward we spotted a large black creature. "I think it's a cow…" said Newt, "or a pig."
"How 'bout a big dog?" I asked as Boar Fever came over me. "Or a bear, a small buffalo…do they have buffalo here? Maybe a musk ox." I was buzzing in anticipation. "How far a shot is that?" I asked.
"Six hundred yards," said Bwana.
I raised my rifle and the crosshairs actually blocked out the target! Calculating windage, fall, distance, instability, the hiccups, the mosquitoes and the bowl of chili Newt had eaten the night before, I figured my odds of hitting the beast was about 100 to one.
"Did we leave the bazooka at home?" I asked knowing the bazooka's range was only 300 yards. What we needed for this shot was a mortar or even a drone with guided missiles.
"Follow me," said Bwana.
In the center of the field 200 yards away was a high-line pole. We lined up single file to reduce our image and stumbled on, reminiscent of the Bataan Death March. I leaned against the pole to steady my aim. Four hundred yards I calculated. I took aim. "How much should I elevate the shot?" I asked.
"About this much," he instructed. I looked back to see Bwana holding his thumb and index finger in the "C" position about two inches apart. I remember trying to decipher, does that mean two inches above the pig or two inches above the crosshairs? I know it sounds dumb, but I hesitated. I looked back…too late…the pig was gone.
They told me he would have been a Boone and Crockett record. They'd never seen one that big, hoof-prints like a rhino, tusks as long as a mastodon, enough meat to make two and a half tons of sausage. I'd have my picture on the cover of Pigs Unlimited! I felt my future melt away.
Oh, well, at least we got it all on film.