Just recovering after my first driven boar weekend of the season, over in Portugal.
Flew out from Gatwick on Friday, having been delayed by 4 hours after they found a nail in one of the front tires. TAP couldn't find a replacement anywhere in the UK, and ended up flying one into Heathrow from Lisbon, then by truck to Gatwick
So after a night in a hotel, and several hours driving, we arrive for the first days shooting.
Anyone having been to Portugal will know how laid back their Montaria's are. Generally goes something like, meet in small village hall, or farm buildings, sign in, have breakfast, coffee, etc', pick pegs, chat for an hour, and then all head off about 10.30, for one big drive, with as many as 300 dogs. Drive can take several hours, get collected, back to base for lunch, wine, coffee, etc', all included in the days price, go and look at the days results, and head off late afternoon.
Day 1) So after breakfast, etc', etc', we find the truck listed to take us to our peg, and get taken out into some wonderful countryside. I picked a peg that was actually a high stand, not quite what I was expecting, but a great 360 degree view.
We'd been told we could shoot any boar, or Red deer, but after several hours, we'd only seen a few deer, but nothing shootable, but got to spend a few hours enjoying the scenery.
Day 2) Arrive at the second shoot, hoping for a more successful day.
Well the journey from the village to the shooting area was interesting, about 3 miles in a trailer, towed by a tractor, and a mission just to make sure we didn't get thrown out, as we drove off road to the pegs. A couple of the regulars said that I had a good peg, and 4 boar were shot from it last year. It was sort of nice to know, but I didn't exactly assume it would be the same, just because of how it shot a year ago !
So just pleased to arrive at the peg limbs intact, we'd been told we had some leeway where we could stand. So picked a spot, and got ready. We were on one side of a small valley, based part way down, so we could cover as much ground as possible, but the cover was really thick on the opposite side, with just a few small clear patches, and I wasn't certain just what we'd be able to see.
View in front.
View to the left.
So after a few minutes, shots start going off to our left, then from what seems everywhere, but nothing is showing where we are. It seems like an age, and then we see some movement on the other side of the valley. I see a boar, follow, take the shot, and MISS .............. I'm cursing myself, and wondering if I'll even see another.
Then I see another moving, follow, and take the shot. It drops, and phew, at least I've got one. It then goes quite, and nothing seems to be about for ages, until I spot some movement through the trees top right, but it looks like the dog pack coming through, and I turn away, feeling disappointed that now I've seen the dogs, it's nearing the end. A second glance, and I realize it isn't the dogs, it's a group of boar, must be 8 + running down the opposite bank towards me, but they are now in thick cover, and all I can see is a line of bushes moving. Then they start to break cover, and I pick one of the group, shoot, & it drops, the group splits, and head in different directions, another, & it drops, then I see some running left to right in front, and I drop two more, before I empty the magazine, and the boar have disappeared. 5 shots, 4 down from the group !
My heart is pounding, I look at my friend Pedro, not quite believing what had just happened...................... and just said, so the new rifle works ok then
Swap magazines, Pedro starts to reload the empty one for me, and we (I) start to calm down.
I then see the beaters/dog handlers moving across, and again think it must be nearly over. I then spot another boar coming down the opposite bank, just yards in front of the beaters, but it's so dense, they don't even see it. Pedro says, no it's a dog, but it was way too big, as I lost sight, as it went into the cover. Then I saw bushes moving, and tracked it until it broke cover, shoulder the rifle, aim, and it dropped. It looked a good size.
I'm now starting to think I must me dreaming. It had taken 7 trips, before I got my first boar, and I finally broke my duck back in February, where I was lucky to get 6 over the week, but now 6 in a day !
It was getting late, and we were hearing less shots going on around us, and I said to Pedro that we'll give it a little longer, and start to pack up, then I hear movement, and something coming through the bushes yards in front of us, but it's so thick, I can't see anything. I look along until I see a less dense area, and wait, gun up. I see some movement, and realize it's a very young boar, and lower my rifle, not feeling the need to take it. Pedro looks at me, and I just shrug my shoulders.
I take another look up the opposite side, and there's another group coming down over to the left. Aim, and fire, as they scatter, and I follow a group that goes straight to the bottom of the gully, and start up my left side. I aim, & fire at the larger one I see, then up the bank, and take another smaller one..............
Disbelief. Then Pedro says the first one was hit, but he thinks it got up, the other two weren't moving though. We start down, and across the other side, as the tractor approaches to collect us. It's a nightmare, it's so thick with bushes, and more prickles, than a prickly thing, but do I care
We find 7, and follow a really good blood trail, but it's starting to get dark, and the beaters aren't interested in letting me look for longer, so not too happy with leaving a couple of possibly injured boar out there, we climb on the trailer to get taken back, hoping the beater find them later.
We arrived back to have what was a very late lunch. Some of the locals weren't too happy a British guy had been so lucky, and were commenting that next year, there will be 40 British hunters all wanting to shoot there Then one of the organizers came over to our table, and started talking to my Portuguese friends, asking how we'd tagged the boar we shot, and they said with cable ties through an ear. Then Pedro says, I won a prize for the 3rd biggest boar of the day, and I was presented with a very nice plate with a picture on a boars head, place, date, as the prize !
What a day. 9 shot, 7 found, 12 rounds, then 2 more rounds to dispatch one I hadn't shot cleanly, missing with the first attempt, hitting a branch.
I was incredibly lucky, with the peg, and things just coming together, at the right time. I doubt I'll ever see a day like it again, but I'll keep my fingers crossed.