Warthog are often viewed as a comical and a ridiculed animal of the African savannah. These animals however pound for pound are some of the toughest there are on this continent.
Aun Egil a good client and friend from Norway desired to shoot one of these tough customers with his bow and arrow on a recent trip to Lowlands. So accompanied by Professional hunter Sean , they set off to Selbourne, a good concession with good numbers of hogs.
Kjartan, Aun Egils brother and I where hunting together on another concession called Fyvie. We were after Blesbuck and Impala. The day was drawing on and success had not smiled on us. Stalk after stalk had gone in but to no avail.
It was the norm for my Phs to update me on their success or failures via sms. The phone finally vibrated and I had hoped it would be a message of success from there end. It was indeed from Sean and the message simply read “Arrow in pig!!”
I showed Kjartan and we both agreed this sounded good. Aun was a very good bow hunter and we presumed the best outcome was imminent. Our morning was drawing to a close, with the midday heat starting to poor on we decided to head for the vehicle. We were head down heading to the truck when the phone vibrated again. I wipped the phone out and read the message out aloud “we might have a problem!!” My pace quickened as if we could reach the vehicle it was possible we could go across and help them should we be needed.
We reached the vehicle and another message came through on the phone “Is the dog available?”. Sherbet this was not good. Both Kjartan and I knew we had trouble.
Tex is my Australian Cattle Dog and has proved himself to be a good tracking dog on wounded animals. Although being Australian (No offence to any Australians) this is strictly on a when it suits him basis and on the occasion a “what blood???” attitude has come out.
I know phoned Sean and said we were available and on our way. He could expect us in 30 minutes.
We hurriedly drove to Selbourne and as usual when one is in a rush this trip seemed to take twice as long as usual. Kjartan even commented he did not remember the farm being this far! However soon enough we were on the farm. I called on the radio to find out where Sean and Aun Egil where. He relayed to me where they were and we bumped along the farm roads to where they were standing next to the road. Their faces told a story, I could see immediately that we had not been told the whole story or the scenario had changed somewhat. Being animals that lived in burrows, the scenario now was that the pig had gone sub terrainian. He was now down his burrow. His state no one could tell.
The question on everyone’s minds now was “what now?”
Aun Egil had a look of dejection, failure and amazement on his face. The four of us hunters and three trackers all looked at each other and no one really ventured suggestions as to sorting this problem out. The trackers where muttering “ zokeepa gangani ingulube, siyaingodini?” Loosely translated “how we going to get the pig out? He is down a hole?”
Eventually I suggested “Why don’t we light a fire and try smoking him out?” At least this way buy the movement of the smoke we could see where the other entrances where to the tunnel system and who knows maybe we could get the pig to come out. We located four exit tunnels but the pig never moved at all. This plan was not working.
We then tried to fire some shots down the hole. In an attempt to scare the pig out. This needless to say did not work either.
We then turned our attention to Tex, in desperation maybe he could go down the burrow and locate the pig. I must be honest I was not comfortable with this idea and did not fancy the thought of my dog down a burrow with a wounded Warthog. Chances where very good he would not make it out unscathed. However fortune fsvoured the brave and I trusted my faithful hound to not get ina situation he could not get out of. Now we tried to coax him into going down the burrow but with good old fashion Australian attitude an exspression was on his face like “are you crazy???”. Tex knew better than to go where none of us where willing to go.
We were fresh out of ideas and options and the clock was ticking. It was 1.00 oclock and we were desperate to get this pig out. Leaving it in the burrow dead or alive was not an option. At this stage it was still unknown if the pig was dead or alive.
Suddenly Sean came forward and said “well lets dig it out!!” This statement was met with redicule and laughter. But Sean was serious, so with out hesitation we set off to the farm house to acquire some earth moving equipment. We returned with a shovel and a crow bar type steel rod known in zulu as an Umxalo. So with out anyhesitation now Sean, myself and the trackers started conjuring up a plan as to how best to do this.
Aun Egil and Kjartan where now strategically place with rifles in hand with the instruction to shoot any pig should it come busting out. However safety was a big concern and thus they were positioned with backs facing the hole and told to only shoot what passed them. In a situation like this there are people, dog, and a unpredictable warthog that can all pose huge dangers to one another. Extreme caution needed to be taken when shooting in this chaos.
Tex was now running around excitedly as he knew action was imminent. He kept returning to the burrow where the blood drops went down into the tunnel system
Sean and I now armed with a Maglite torch began investigating the burrows, to try find a place to begin digging. We cut a long branch of a nearby tree and slid it down the burrow until its end. The stick approximately four meters long. This was then removed and marked on the surface. This gave us a spot to start digging. So led buy Bafana the trackers began digging. Taking turns on the Umxalo we rotated and dug as fast as possible.
It was not long and we were in. The hole was carefully widened so as one could see into the den and look for the wounded warthog. I stuck my head in the hole and there was no sign of the pig in this hole. Tex all this time was becoming more brazen as he watch us trying to get into the burrow.
We decided it best to widen the hole so as to try get into the hole to see where the main chamber of the den was and what tunnels branched off. This we did and myself being the smallest framed, I climbed into the burrow. I looked down the beam of the Maglite and could see the main chamber, however to my amazement there was a vast array of tunnels leading off the main chamber. My first thought was this animal could be anywhere. My hopes of finding this pig where now faltering.
Just then Tex’s curiosity , overtook his caution and he entered the tunnel. Within seconds he had totally disappeared. My apprehension showed. Then the tunnel erupted like the first shudder of a volcano. The earth came alive and a black dog burst from the entrance hole like a rifle bullet leaving the barrel. It was like a mini earth quake. The pig however did not follow Tex out but we were left with a clear idea of where he was and there was absolutely no confusion whether he was alive or dead. He was very alive and ready to take the fight to us.
Tex now in a state of pure excitement or terror, I can’t be sure which. Now the game was on. He would not leave the burrow now or renter it. His hair was standing straight up and his tailed wagged frantically.
Our spirits soured and adrenalin began to race. Aun Egil and Kjartan I think where slipping into a state of disbelief.
With a quick deliberation it was decided on the exact position of the pig and our umxalo was was flying again an dthis time with increased energy. Our hole grew and eventually we could tell we were getting close. We started to dig with great caution and our two sentinels where ready on there rifles. With myself now behind the Umxalo , I eventually saw the earth collapse and we were into the main burrow, I knelt down and shone the torch into the hole, there it was shining in the light of the torch, a warthog tusk!! The pig was right there…
Through the small hole I could see the animal was still alive.
Sean called Aun over with my 270 calibre rifle. There was no way he could shoot the warthog again through this small hole. Aun would have to lie down flat on the earth and aim into the small hole. I would then have to enlarge the hole so he could see enough to make a finishing shot. All this while the pig lay undisturbed. Our big concern now was the pig bursting out of the hole I had just dug and running straight over Aun lying on the earth.
Aun was in position and all innocent bystanders where removed from the schene. I then began to open the hole. Slowly slowly carefully carefully. I broke the earth away. The torch was positioned on the earth shining into the hole to try eluminate the pig. I proceded with everyone watching on with atticipation.
The whole took shape and the pig seemed calm, Aun shouted in an excited voice “I see him I see him!!” and fired the 270. My head was still infront of the 270 when it went off and I was now deafened. All I saw was dust. Then the pig erupted from the hole, like he had been super charged. However in mid break out Aun Egil crushed him with a perfect brain shot at 2m from his barrel tip. The pig lay still wedged in the small hole he had burst through.
Chaos was the only word to explain the scene.
Trackers, Pro hunters, clients and Tex now ran around seemingly with no direction. Hysteria had taken hold of all of us.
Aun Egil final words summed up the scene “You guys
are all crazy!!!” and walked away shaking his head.
This fiasco had taken four hours and the better part of the day, but these two international visitors had experienced something that most could not imagine. This also demonstrating the phs and trackers resolve to locate the wounded animal and never leave an animal in the field un recovered. Nobody wants to wound and animal and even worse loose one but it is the amount of effort we are willing to exert that defines what will happen.
So Aun Egil with his large Warthog slung across his shoulders walked the animal back to the vehicle and now had a tail to tell on his return to Norway that to most would be unbelievable.