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Wild Boar
February 1998
Gerhard Schroeder

The fight was on. An inner fight between wanting to fall asleep and shivering in the cold. We had been on the hochsitz for a couple of hours, overlooking a small clearing near the edge of the woods. It was now about 10 PM, and ..."There they are!", my brother whispered. "Are you sure?" was my stupid reply. Except that it did not seem so stupid to me at the time. For crying out loud, it was dark, cold and windy, no moon, no snow, and I could not see a damn thing down there, except that the pale winter grass did provide a somewhat lighter background than the woods. Helmut had binoculars, Optolyth 9X63, but wasn't using them when he announced the pigs. I cradled his drilling, but did not use the Swarovsky 2.5-10X56 on it to scan the opening. That was too cumbersome, and also involved too much motion.

Helmut now had the binos in his face, and confirmed the pigs. My pulse increased a notch. Carefully, the drilling inched into position, and with the scope at 8X the search for a boar was on. First only pale background, but then, there, right at the edge of the woods, dark shadows moving about. While appearing out of focus, I did manage to line one up with the fat #4 reticle. Only thing was, the beast never stopped, NEVER, until it had moved out of my radius of action. I was pissed!

For years I had been wanting a wild boar, Russian boar, or as they say in German: Wildsau, really really bad. Years ago I had invested many uncomfortable nightly hours waiting on some high stands, and never seen one. Then my brother tried to get me into pigs on almost every visit since I had left the old country, but we never saw any. Then, during my last visit in November '97, he greeted me at the airport with the exciting news: the pigs had repeatedly visited that clearing, where he had made it 'interesting' for them by leaving some goodies such as oak nuts, kernels of corn, and guts from small game, all hidden under oak leafs so birds would not detect the smorgasbord. We 'refilled' that stuff on the second day of my visit, and confirmed that they had taken it that same night. The next night found us on the stand, but since no new munchies had been there, the pigs just moved through, and I did not get a shot. Normally I would have taken the moving challenge, but this was my first boar, and I wanted it to be a good shot. But hey, I was two steps closer, had actually seen wild boar, and even aimed at them. Pigs aren't easy. An old saying goes that you, on average, sit fifty hours in ambush for every pound of boar meat. It is truly a trophy, no matter what the size.

We offered more oak nuts, and sure enough, the next morning inspection showed that the pigs had returned again. We added more yet, and made plans to return after dinner that evening, to try again. It was a long day of anticipation. Dinner finally came, and soon we snug back into our ambush position. There was no inner fight this time, no problem to stay awake. And bingo, barely a half hour later the same whisper from mister owl (I now call him that after detecting our quarry in virtual darkness, without binoculars), "There they are". Again no binoculars. This time I did not ask, but moved the Krieghoff into action immediately, as my pulse was noticeably increasing now. Right on! I made out several black shadowy creatures, obviously busy enjoying our offerings. The #4 settled down on a boar that had just moved, so I knew which end was forward, in an area I believed to be the chest. One last check, everything looked about as OK as it could in this twilight filled with out of focus shapes, and BOOOM, orange light filled the scope. The RWS 7X65R had spoken its 177 grain language, and we heard critters crash through the nightly woods to put distance from us. It was done, I shot my first wild boar.

Or did I?

After waiting the obligatory minutes to let everything settle down, we turned on the flashlight and inspected the area where the animal had been when I fired. No pig, no blood. We stepped a little further in the general flight direction, and nothing. In order to not trample on potential evidence, we went home, only to return early the next morning with Samson, his black hunting dog. Samson did not get any scent trail at the shot site, so we circled the place, pushed through thick stands of young pine trees, found bedding places where the boars had been, but no blood, no dead body, nothing. Then doubts came up. Did I really have a good shot? It looked like it, but Helmut did try to comfort by pointing out that shooting in poor light conditions is not always what it seems to be. Well, then, my return trip to the US was the next morning. It was a nice and short visit, seeing the family again, going hunting with my brother, bagging five mallards and two deer, and having actually gotten a shot off at the wild boar. Too bad I missed.

Or did I?

The story would finally end for me on New Years Day, 1998. Prior to that, for Christmas, I had made my traditional call to Germany. When the chatting turned to hunting, Helmut told me that another hunter from the village, at a different spot, had taken a shot at a boar with a 30-06, also at night, and the beast also took off. They used a trained bloodhound the next morning, but the dog did not get scent, either. The guys eventually found some blood, then Helmut looked at the terrain, crawled through some dense cover, and actually found the dead porker.

Helmut called me on new years, which is unusual, and I knew something was up. After telling me some hunting stories from recent party hunts, he finally announced that he had found my wild boar two days earlier. While 'restocking' the pig smorgasbord, he saw a hawk fly up near by. The hawk had found my dead pig! It had gone no more than 70 yards, and died under a small bush. In our search, with the dog, we had been walking within 5 steps of it, but none of us detected it. Hunting is not perfect, and here was proof. Helmut told me that the shot, as best as he could tell, went diagonal through the lungs, basically where I had aimed. Still, I wish my first wild boar hunt would have turned out more positive.

I will try again.

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