Ladies first, of course. There was never any doubt that Anne would get first shot at any pigs that came our way. It wasn’t simply gentlemanly behaviour on my part, it was the fact that she’d never, ever shot a pig. She’d been waiting patiently for almost five years.
But then the greedy woman nailed two good boars in a week! Give ’em and inch and they take a mile, eh?
All the neighbours and most of our friends heard about Anne’s exploits and as they oohed and ahhed at the pictures. I had to get even!
Anne had certainly earned her first boar. I’d been away when she’d set up a game camera on a stack of goat carcasses after we’d done some culling. She caught a horse-tailed boar coming in at night and soon had his routine down pat. He’d be there a couple of hours after dark on most nights, sometimes late evening, and often he’d be back again around midnight.
After dinner one drizzly night, she said it was time. We rugged up, and she took the Tikka .223, plenty of gun when she’d be shooting from just 40m away. She clamped a torch on top and away we went.
The night was still as a church on Monday, the loudest sound the tiny raindrops settling on our shoulders. Our footsteps were muffled on the wet ground and we sidled into our ambush position very slowly, listening hard all the way. Nothing. Anne flicked on the light for a few seconds to check her bearings and then doused it.
Moments later we heard the snap of bone. Then again. He was there, gorging on goat. Anne clicked the light on to reveal a broadside shot at the big fella. She touched off the shot. Bang and whump!
Anne was quiet but I was jumping up down with excitement.
“You got your first pig and look at it – a big boar!” I said. She seemed to think it was all too easy. No stalking all day, no running around, no waiting for hours in the cold and the wet. That’s how it goes when you do your homework, I reminded her.
A week later she put in the miles for her second boar, and it was a completely different hunt.
We weren’t even targeting pigs. At the end of a full day of fox whistling, with feet aching and legs burning, we settled at the top of a steep gully containing blackberries and shrilled our last whistle for the day. I scanned to the left and…
“Pig!” I hissed. He must have been bedded below us and stood up at the whistle’s intrusive shriek. But he couldn’t work it out and stood there on full alert, bum to us and spine exposed. Anne had the Tikka again, loaded with Hornady’s quick little varmint pills. Not the kind of thing you’d choose for a boar but a 60m shot into his vulnerable back wasn’t going to be a problem.
The bullet whacked it right in the spine. The big fella tumbled down the gully, paralysed. Anne chambered another round and shot him in the chest.
He was a beauty. His huge head had tusks almost as big as the first boar’s. His black and ginger hair was striking. Both ears were torn and scarred from fighting other boars and probably a dog or two. He was one tough old boar.
Anne was grinning hard this time. Talk about breaking a drought.
Our friends and neighbours were impressed. Julie leaned over the fence and said her husband was very jealous.
“How do you think I feel?” I asked. “Anne’s a boar hog!”
It began to niggle at me. I’d shot nothing but a pair of sows in years. I desperately wanted – no, needed – to get a boar in my sights.
Then one of the kids saw a few pigs in a paddock nearby. Anne and I decided to check it out and found a mob of about a dozen pigs, including at least one big one. I couldn’t believe my luck. My luck, not Anne’s…
We crept in, Anne loading up the .223 and me the 7mm Rem Mag. 150m from the pigs, we surveyed the mob and I realised that what I thought was a big sow at the far end, near the treeline, was actually a second boar.
Pure, macho selfishness gripped me. “Do you mind if I shoot first?” I asked Anne, but it wasn’t really a question and she knew it. I so badly wanted the big, black razorback in the middle of the mob and then fully intended to whack the one out the back, too. I could even up the tally today and I wasn’t letting anything get in my way. Especially gentlemanly behaviour.
A pesky little brindle pig kept getting between me and my black boar. I was so focussed I didn’t even consider it as a secondary target, just a pest. Finally it moved away and the boar that would restore my pride stood side on in my sights. Too easy. <i>Boom, thud!<i>
I looked for the distant boar. He was smart, heading off up a different gully from the rest of the mob. But he was running directly away from me, his Texan heart a perfect target at a bit over 200m. Another boom, another thud, and I saw him stagger, turn and fall.
I’d done it! I’d equalled Anne’s efforts. She’d scored twice in quick succession and I’d followed up with two in one unexpected minute of shooting. I forgot my selfish behaviour, instead justifying my hogging the hogs by pointing out that the .223 had no hope against the big ones at that range.
Anne pointed at the sow she’d dropped, not needing to say a word. She was still one up on me. Call it two goals and a behind to my two goals. And we both knew that next time she’d bring the .308.