On returning to the station, I was called into the office to see the manager; I wondered what was going on and went on in.
“ Close the door”, not a good sign,” Can you shoot wild boar with your rifle” I may have smiled.
That was the last thing I was expecting. So the story unfolded.
A land owner had some wild boar and took the occasional one for the table but the situation now was that they were doing such a huge amount of damage the time had come to call it a day.
The boss rang his contact who had asked him if he knew of anyone who could help him out so we spoke on the phone. It transpired we had met before as I had bought some surplus kit off him previously.
He ran through the same story as above basically adding that these boar were educated, very human shy always moving away hiding in the deeper cover and not feeding while anyone was about. Some had been field slaughtered very recently. He asked what rifle I had and I told him I had a.270 but knew diddly squat about boar shooting and I asked what the land like?
He had done a site visit and considered there were a couple of directions where safe shots could be taken. This was on Sunday night and the job was booked for Tuesday morning so there was not a huge amount of time. We agreed I would come round and see him in the afternoon on Monday for a chat and a brew. I never did get the brew. It would give us a chance to size each other up and form a plan.
That night I sent some PM’s on here asking for advice and out lining my plan, as it was then. I looked at boar anatomy and u tube clips of boar hunting for an hour or two, head shots, neck shots and heart lung shots and finally checking out the legal recommendations and position for the proposed plan.
In my mind I had pretty much ruled out the head and would use the boiler room. The neck shot had a little appeal if that was all I was presented with from behind a tree, but I pretty much rejected this too as I may not be able to judge it correctly if a couldn’t see the leg and if I could see the leg it could go heart lung.
The main thing I learned was the low forward placement of the heart and lungs.
Next day was cold wet and blowing a gale with sleet and abit of snow. We had a chat and looked at the ground on Google earth which clearly marked roads, buildings and lakes. Gareth phoned a chap for permission and we went off to have a look together.
It was bucketing down and very muddy wellies on big coat and Tilly hat and off we went. The area they were in was like ploughed field only worse. Deep mud every where, no firm footing, damaged tree trunks and many, many grubbed up and fallen trees strewn around, some on the ground others leaning on their neighbours. What a mess.
Basically the ground sloped up from south to north, with denser cover in the northern and southern ends with a bit more open cover in the centre, but being pine trees there were small twigs off every trunk at low level leaving a host of stuff to deflect a bullet. I started rifle shooting in Lincolnshire and looking at this ground I felt it was not bad at all.
While the ground sloped down from the north it rose again beyond the trees, to the east was a road but again the ground rose up to it and from any standing position there was plenty of back stop, slightly south east was a lake which I did not want a bullet skipping off, but again there was enough field below it, to the north as the ground was rising no problem and to the west was a another road and despite the ground rising this was not going to be an option.
As we walked round Gareth saw a boar a sow, she looked huge to me. She hurried off as we had moved and she’d picked us up instantly.Gareth shook a feed bag and called, but they were having none of that.
So we agreed to meet up at 7.30 in the morning and see what we could do. We were bringing two rifles. I would be the primary and do the shooting. No pressure then. We agreed if, even at the last moment if we were not happy or bottled out then it was a scrub.
I went and collected my Parker Hale .270 and ammunition,stalking clothes sticks and binoculars.
My research had identified 150gr bullets as the consensus weight required or heavier. I had 130gr by three different manufacturers.However there was a discussion and varying opinions that 130gr were fine and carried sufficient energy at closer ranges, the 150gr. came into their own down range.
I had Partizan, Remington Corelokt, and some Barnes brass home loads all in 130gr.
I took everything up to where I zero and got set up to test out the zero and the different bullets. I set up a target at 70 yards and climbed on top of a large trailer with two tractor tyres perched on top of one another. I screwed home the T8 moderator and slid in the bolt flipped up the Butler Creeks and took a look at the target.
The wind was a gale quartering from the left at about 40miles an hour, buffeting the trailer and the tyres which shook in the wind.
I started with the Partizan’s and fired three shots, the wind buffeted the tyres and shooting was difficult. I walked up for a look while the gun cooled, not too bad one an inch low one half inch low and one right in the middle of the inch square bulls eye.
I walked back and reloaded with three of the Remington, I fired taking my time and with as much care as I could muster, it was very cold in the wind two rounds were clover leafed with the inch low Partizan and the third a little left and about an inch low and left of the bull centre.
Back I walked to the trailer and loaded with three of theBarnes home loads this is so far my usual hunting round and what the rifle was zeroed with a couple of years ago back in the south, when I had a brilliant day out with Deerwarden. I have tested the zero since of course.
I fired the first round and could see through the scope I had clipped the top of the bull dead on the centre line. I did not see the point firing any more.
I packed up the gear into the car and walked up the field.
All the bullets fired were within 2 inches of the centre of the target, I was content enough given the conditions. On picking up the bucket the target was stuck to it was immediately obvious that the Barnes had expanded hugely more that the Remi and the Partizan leaving a half inch wide hole in the back of the bucket.
This gave me some food for thought, would it be better to use the Remi or Partizan on these solid animals for better penetration or will the home load powder drive the expanding brass hard hollow point bullet forever onward expanding as it went. I wasn’t shooting a bucket. It was also likely that the Barnes had clipped a piece of wood I had used to stiffen to top of the bucket and started to expand before exiting.
I felt ready for the task ahead, I knew I could hit the point of aim to a very satisfactory level, and the range would probably be 50 to seventy yards and that the .270 was adequate to the job and that the energy in the 130gr bullet was enough to cleanly dispatch a boar. The issue was identifying shot placement and after my research and advice I felt ready leaving head and neck aside to shoot right up tight to the shoulder low in the thorax or a quartering shot under the last rib forward for heart and lungs. Remember the follow through and shoot again if there is any doubt remembering not to get carried away and that every shot had to have the same consideration and level of safety particularly once the adrenaline was running. These were my thoughts on the drive home from the zeroing field.
Back at home I visited the shed and routed out my stalking clothes and after a bit of a tussle pulled out the Gortex liner for my jacket which had dropped behind the dog food bin, gloves, balaclava, DPM waterproof trousers, binoculars and sticks.
Next was the weather forecast, well it was not much different to today. Cold, wet and a westerly gale, but we had no choice of day or time. This was a job to be done and had to be completed that day. Four female boar had to be culled. Others had been removed by different means but the disturbance had rendered these four very wise and shy and further earlier attempts to move them had proved fruitless.
This was not purist boar hunting, but it was going to be done and I had been asked to help, having never shot boar it was a learning opportunity not to be missed. Providing shooting in a relatively controlled environment but with the difficulty of woodland shooting which while I have stalked woodland before had not actually fired. The boar would be there so shooting was pretty much guaranteed, unless as was the arrangement I called it off on the day which I was free to do for any reason.
I slept well and awoke to the alarm going off. I got ready made a drink and checked the pile of kit to go out to the car, everything was there. Stepping outside it was windy and cold overcast and looking like rain any minute.
I had insulated trousers on and a fleece under my fleecelined jacket, gloves in the pocket and Tilly hat ready on the passenger seat. I drove off to the ground arriving just ahead of time. I was the first to arrive so I got ready water proof trousers on and wellies with good soles followed by deer hunter jacket and hat. It was raining with a strong wind from the south west not ideal for the lay of the land but the boar would know we were there anyway; this was not stalking wild boar in the open.
I felt calm, and had not previously had nerves in my limited deer stalking experience. In my mind I ran through the issues of the day, safety being top of the list, I had never been out with anyone I was to be with today. I wanted to do a clean efficient and humane job and I did not want to let anyone down, particularly the boar with a poor shot and myself with a poor shot, calm and calculated seemed to be the order of the day.
I put eight home loads and eight Remington into the bullet pouch. I had decided to use the home loads at first and see how they worked out. The T8 was screwed firmly home and the bolt slid in. Binoculars shrugged on, I had copied Deerwarden from a previous “stalk” and had them on a harness which works a treat stopping them swinging around but easily and quickly usable when required. My main plan was to use them to check the back stop if needed and may be look for the boar or identify clearly what bit of one I was looking at.
Across the field a couple of people were approaching,Gareth arrived and we met up introduced ourselves and we discussed the plan.
The boar had not been fed yesterday but food had been put out this morning. There had been a previous escape some time ago which although recovered had not been popular. The ground was fenced with sheep fence with a supporting electric fence, but it not going to stop a boar if it decided to go. Our plan was go very slowly no noise keep calm, no one at any time ahead of the guns, we would shoot them as the shots presented, leave each where it fell once certain it was dead. We explained they may drop where they were shot or run on, I was not planning on shooting anything moving. I was to be the primary shot but Gareth would shoot if there was a mechanical failure, wounded animal or a safety issue.
We would start at the feeding station walking in a wide arc to come up on it. We walked over the fields and came to our start point.Guns were loaded and I put 5 home loads into my Parker Hale. We were ready to start. There was no activity at the feeding station. However one of the lads said "over to the left", I had not seem them but he was used to finding them. I was not surprised; I had been here before with deer and rabbits, you get an eye for the quarry after some experience. I picked them up by eye and glassed them with the bino’s. There were too many trees and low sticky growth off the trees likely to deflect a bullet. But the back stop was good. I put up the sticks and carefully raised the rifle flicking open the scope covers. The rain was light.
I picked up the most likely boar standing behind various trees it was facing to the right and a couple of steps forward would present a shot. It was a big animal, I waited. Control the breathing, shot is safe, the boar took a step, safety off, another step, cross hairs low behind the shoulder, and the rifle went off almost on its own. All four boar took off to the right. I followed through. He boar dropped. No movement I slipped the safety back on and lowered the rifle.
I had not heard a bullet strike; there was an audible outlet of breath from behind me. The boar had dropped after about 12 yards and lay still. “Good shot” came a chorus from behind me “That’s the biggest one”
Well now I knew several things, I could do it, the rifle could do it and the ammunition was satisfactory for the ranges we would be shooting at today.
The others had moved off to the east so we moved off coming round to the south we saw them again but there was no shot. The rain had stopped and a wintery sun was coming out.
We moved back round and moved up to the north passing close to the lane where a lady was walking her dog. Still nothing doing. Back close to the position of the shot there they were slightly to our left, we stood still and I glassed them again. There was a smaller one nearest but they were moving about, time to wait. I put up the sticks, back stop was good. I raised the rifle at the spot where the shot would be clear, gradually they moved. I pushed off the safety, range about seventy yards, further out than the first one. The boar stepped into the cross hairs I was slightly high, adjusted letting out some breath and fired. I had squeezed the trigger with conscious thought this time. They ran again to the left and down it went after ten yards.This one was kicking and we could puffs of air misting from the chest, “lungshot” said Gareth, it was laying facing away from me I shot it again through the shoulder blades, instant inactivity. Looking back it was probably dead by the time I fired.
Safety on rifle lowered I asked the others if they were satisfied so far. There was a resounding yes. It was going much better than they had expected. I asked Gareth if he wanted a shot, I was very conscious that I was only here because of him and he replied he had been lucky to have had many good experiences and I should carry on.
The boar had moved south and we moved slowly on that way.The remaining two were holed up in the thick cover of standing and fallen trees. I glassed them. They were behind trees and stumps. I looked very carefully. Good back stop of rising field, then a stone wall an A road behind that, a lake in between, but well above the line of shot. I put the sticks up and had a looked through the scope. Between two trees I had a clear view of the neck and head. My golden rule is don’t get carried away and change the plan, I could not see the shoulder, it was a smaller boar. If I had been able to see all the land marks I think I would have taken a neck shot. “No shot” I said.
The other boar moved pushing the target animal forward, I fired. They moved off to the north. “Missed” said Gareth. I was stunned.Complacency? I didn’t think I’d missed, I have not shot much with the .270 but I had never clean missed. The others came over “only one came up the wood it must be down somewhere” I felt reassured. However when we moved closer, there was no blood trail and a nice through and through hole in a tree trunk. The none shooters were surprised that the tree had not stopped the round. I did not know why I had missed, but the certain thing is the rifle is ok.
We decided to enter the enclosure and move north going very slowly. I looked up and the canopy battered by the wind, was lit up gold and green by the wintery sun. Many of the trees were dead their roots destroyed and many had fallen, lots had their trunks frayed some scoured with tusk marks.We were now in mud over a foot deep with pools of water, Gareth described it as a scene from the Somme, it seemed about right. I was glad of my wellies, particularly when I found a hiking boot stuck in the mud.
I moved the scope from times 6 to times 3, perhaps this would have been better at the start.Stalking I have never moved off 6.
We moved out of the thick cover into an area a bit more open by the first boar, the entry wound was not as far forward as I had intended. One of the others saw the two remaining to the left ahead, between the trees. No need for the glasses I put up the sticks followed as smoothly as possible by the rifle. The right hand boar presented side on and I fired through the shoulder.
It dropped on the spot.
Somehow reloading the bolt would not close. The bullet was chambered; it would not extract or tap out. I removed the bolt and put in my pocket. Gareth was going to finish the job. Secretly I was pleased as I had learned a great deal and done OK I thought, and I was only here as he had invited me.
It started to hail, stinging in the strong wind.
He moved forward, we had expected the remaining one to run north up hill and it had into the thicker cover ahead.
We hung back. I asked if they were pleased, they were, they had thought of fences being rushed by panicking boar and from what they had seen they knew they had done the right thing having us in. It started to hail, stinging in the strong wind.
Gareth’s hand went up and he crouched down slowly, rifle on the sticks. The ground sloped up ahead. The rifle was raised and bang. The others all jumped. “That was loud” they exclaimed. (Paraphrased) The other rifle was unmoderated. The T8 made my .270 much friendlier. We got a thumbs up and walked up, the boar was dead. I was delighted; we had both had a successful day. The hail was now inconsequential. We took a couple of photos and handshakes all round along with a few moments of reflection on the boar and the day.
I asked the time and it was just two hours since we parked up, I thought we had been there longer. The others brought in a tractor and the drag rope and recovered them and off they went to the abattoir. We were promised a good box of pork each and we left for home.
At home I pushed a rod gently down the barrel and the bullet slid out easily, rifle cleaned and a mug of steaming coffee, what a day.
Thanks to Gareth, Steve my shooting mentor and Deerwardenwho all played a part in getting me here.