Pig Hunt. Knife Work. Shotgun Blast. Satori?


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HS/LD
December 26, 2002, 05:34 PM
Years before I moved to the US of A…
I had been in the service about two years when I had a pass for three days in a row. It was summer time, I think late January, and I was itching to get off base. I had drunk most of the previous months meager allowance and didn’t have enough to get all the way home to Auckland. So when a mate from the barracks offered to let me crash at his place I jumped at the chance.

We caught a bus through Arthurs Pass and headed for a place close to Hokitika, on the West Coast of the South Island. My mate’s Dad picked us up at the bus stop in an old rust and white Toyota pickup. I climbed in the back of the beer can littered truck with the meanest looking Pig Dog I have ever seen. His name was ‘Mungrel’ or ‘Bastard’ or something… He wanted to continually lick my face, with part of an ear missing and a scar across his muzzle that looked like he had been hit with an axe. Good boy I wont argue.
It started raining as we left the paved roads and headed into the bush.
My mate from the Army was a Maori, about my age, 19 or 20. His Dad seemed like the nicest bloke and I was looking forward to the Hangi (food cooked on hot rocks buried in the ground) that I had heard him mention as I had climbed in the back.

We finally arrived in front of a small weather beaten house way back in the bush somewhere. The drizzle had become a steady rain and I was cold and wet, thanking God for the warm dog that was now lying over my legs.

The family was great; hospitality is always in abundance in this neck of the woods. I was treated to some peanut butter and jam sandwiches some Milo (cocoa) and a chance to put on dry clothes. It was heading towards dusk when “Call me Dad” and sons came to propose we go and collect the pig for the meal tomorrow. Pig on the spit was great!! Hangi pork is heaven. I thought they meant another cold wet ride in the back of the pickup to a farmer up the road, not realizing that I was about to have one of the most exciting adventures of my life.

I grabbed my Swan Dri (wool bush shirt) and headed outside when I saw the flashlights and sheath knives I knew something was up. The dogs were going crazy running in circles and whining with anticipation. I was handed an old English made sheath knife, Sheffield I think with a six or seven inch blade. The leather wrapped tang was already slippery and wet from the rain. It slowly dawned on me that this hunt would be the traditional way, a Kiwi pig hunt, dog and dagger! Now let me tell you why I was scared at this point. The boars in these parts a pretty nasty customers up to around 400lbs and meaner than anything else I have ever seen on this earth (except that guy I met in the pub in Kaikoura, but that other story). The look on my face must have made the guys laugh the Pakeha (white guy) looked scared!

We took off into the bush at a devil’s pace running after the dogs. This was not stalking, but we moved as quietly as we could while trying to keep up with the dogs. They had been leaving food out to encourage the pigs and the dogs picked up a trail from a decomposed cow carcass the pigs had devoured, (like I said ‘big pigs’). This is rough country and with the overcast sky it was black as the Ace of Spade. In the dark beside me I heard ‘Dad’ running next to me he flicked the flashlight on and off so as to not run into trees. “You gonna stick him?” He asked. “You gotta get in quick boy.” I told him I was better with a gun, and he slowed to a walk and put his hand on my shoulder. “Ok bro. Take this if he gets too pissed off.” He held out an old pump shotgun with wooden stocks and a “sling” made out of a piece of bailing twine wrapped around barrel and stock, I never found out the make, it was too damn dark. “Just pump it and pull the trigger,” he laughed as we started to run again.

In the confusion and the dark I lost sight of the old guy and ran down a pig trail with one of the brothers. We could hear a dog up ahead, muffled growling in the dark, and the crashing of the bushes about us. We dropped down a bank on our arses and on the trail below we saw the dog and pig. My God! The thing was huge well over 200lbs and looked pretty pissed off with the dog hanging onto one of his ears. Now usually they’ll take two at least but more like three or four dogs to hold a pig but in seemed that we had inadvertently been trailing two or more pigs and the dogs had separated. The pig was dragging the struggling dog away from us down the trail. The boy beside, probably no more than 16 gave me a big grin and held up his knife. “You wanna?”
“I’ll back you.” I smiled hefting the Shotgun in the dim light, like I said that pig was huge. The pig had backed to a tree and was still struggling to get the dog hanging onto his right ear with those tusks. The kid just ran up to that bloody great big pig the knife in his hand, and I imagine a grin on his face, and tried to stab it. The pig being the especially cunning animal it was, turned as the boy ran in and body slammed him with its flank. “Damn!” The dog was going crazy as the kid scrambled to get out of the way as the boar turned towards him.
“Crap! Crap! Crap!”
I ran forward about two steps and planted my left foot, I had trained over and over and over in the Army to shoot an FAL L1A1 .308. Without thinking, a feeling of absolute calm washed over me the sounds and the smells all disappeared. I swung the Shotgun to eye line and tried for the cheek weld, little did I know that, a piece of the stock was broken and missing. The bead disappeared and reappeared as I bobbed my head. I had know idea what the gun was loaded with, could’ve been rock salt, or bird shot… I was eight paces out and pulled the trigger. Nothing. Pump it! The bead disappeared again. Bead… hairy neck… a flash of shoulder. Silence and slow motion as the bead settled on the thick neck in front of the shoulder.
There was no sound and a slow gentle push from the stock into my shoulder…. 'zazen’?
Then the world came rushing back the dog growling and whirling as the boar lurched away from me and went down onto its side. Pump it. Bead… shoulder… finger on the trigger… The boar was laying in his side and the dog tugged at his ear. The kid was scrambling to his feet. “Mate! You got ‘im good.”

I didn’t carry the boar out. They gutted him there and the boys carried and dragged him back home. I wandered back to the house still holding that shotgun, marveling at the euphoric calm that still held me. The bush around me had opened, or had I opened to the bush? I have never felt more alive, aware, and awake. Thoughts of the hunt flashing over and over in my mind, I understood at that moment the primitive drive to stalk and chase your quarry, the sense of peace when holding your weapon in your hand. The thrill of the hunt. The genetic predatory drive that is hidden under layers of... open late gas stations and TV shows had been uncovered.
I bought a shotgun about a month later a pump gun from a mate’s mate. I forget what it was... Sneaked it on base but never really got to fire it much…
I need to get back to New Zealand sometime soon… :(

Copyright 2002 and all that stuff.

Regards,
HS/LD

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Dave McCracken
December 26, 2002, 06:26 PM
Thanks, you sure can tell a story.

Went as backup on a hog hunt one time, no heroics needed. Still don't know if I was invited because my buddy knew he could outrun me(G)...

Gordon
December 26, 2002, 06:42 PM
Yeah did that in central California with 400 pounders except the locals Did stick the pig while I trained .44 on it and away from the knife wielder. Too wild for me not my kinda hunting. Your story is great, mate.

optimator
December 28, 2002, 02:35 AM
Good story! And LMAO at Dave!

45R
December 30, 2002, 08:14 PM
Nice :)

Wakal
December 30, 2002, 10:48 PM
A great story well told...thanks!


Alex

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