before embarking on this saga which is taken from my, and cousin Claire's diaries I suggest you get a brew on the go. I make no apology for this, it's my story written for me. You are welcome to read it, but not obliged to. It is probably the longest article I've written, but I didn't want to miss anything out.
My thanks to both my travelling and hunting companions. To Claire for her great company and sense of humour and to Richard for being the best fall guy to many of our jokes. Some of the photos are also from Richards super camera.
Kind regards, I hope you enjoy.
The Great Polish Adventure Jan 8th-13th 2009
Wednesday 7th Jan
If I stand still for too long today Iím going to meet myself coming back, the day is a real rush, luckily my case is packed so I can relax.
Now 1st job on the list go to the hairdressers, donít laugh it starts the trip on the right note.
Then home to collect Crumble & George & deliver them (via a good walk at the nature reserve) to Margarets for their hols.
Having loaded my case along with the dogs and their food I can head for Marks without returning home, now itís a drive to Tatling End (21/2 at least in the old landy).
Out for a ruby with the other Hunter, mark, Rainey, Pip, and another. Home for a good nights sleep.
Thursday 8th of January.
Arrived at Heathrow along with my fellow travellers Cousin Claire (CC) and Richard (Stone) with about three hours to check in. Last years experience told me this was more a necessity than a good idea.
This year however the airline (LOT) were right on the ball. The only minor snag was that according to their paper work, CC should have had a weapon with her and clearly did not. A bit of tapping on the key board and one phone call later we were all sorted. Rifles were taken through customs, numbers checked and we were free to enjoy some breakfast.
We even had time for Stone to buy some very expensive Scotch from a nice boy in Duty Free!
Arrived in Warsaw on time and passed through their customs very quickly and easily. Our driver was waiting for us with the obligatory name on a board, although as soon as he saw the hat I stole from Johnny Kingdom he knew he had found us. It was a bit of a fiddle trying to get three people plus luggage and two rifles into his Citroen estate, but we managed and were on our way again.
Then followed a four hour drive across a snow covered Polish landscape to our hunting area, near the Belarus border.
Arrived at the hotel and after a light supper we met our guides and were off straight away. We left behind in the hotel five Polish hunters who were well on their way to oblivion drinking Bimber. (Bimber is a vodka brewed and distilled at home. It is of legendary strength, 70% plus, and of varying levels of disgusting flavours, but more of that later).
CC the guide and I stalked into various clearings in the forest, but the boar had clearly fed there earlier and left. I had planned this trip to fall with the full moon, but unfortunately tonight there was a solid cover of snow clouds. On about the third area, the guide glassed the flat land and beckoned us on. I checked through my own monocular and could see nothing. Andy said, "can you see them?" I checked again more thoroughly and sure enough no more than 150yards away were maybe a dozen boar against the forest edge. I was told to stalk on alone, to a point where I felt comfortable with the shot. I had got no more than four or five paces away when I felt the wind eddy and catch the back of my neck. I turned and just grinned at Andy and Claire, turning back just as my scent arrived at the combined noses of the sounder. How such heavy animals can quickly exit stage left without making a sound is beyond me, but was a sight to see, in the gloom of the January night. Claire had stood with her eyes out on stalks, yet had seen nothing in the poor light, and but for my excellent Zeis Optics wouldn't have either.
We returned to the hotel, and were almost immediately swallowed up into a loud throng of Polish guys we had seen at the table earlier. One of the spoke good English while the others spoke some German so we were able to communicate easily with them. Stone returned about an hour later than us, but had like us not managed to get a shot off. The Bimber, red wine and Bushmills fuelled many tales, which continued long into the early hours. Tired but very very happy I hit the pillow at about 3am, and lay waiting for the 6am alarm. .
Easy run to the airport and straightforward check in considering 2 rifles are coming with us. The biggest problem seemed to be that they thought I had a weapon and it was difficult to change the details on the computer but even that didnít delay us too much.
Good flight with much discussion of what to expect re hotel details, number of boar we would see etc.
4-hour drive to the hotel, all tired when we arrived but still able to eat good supper change and straight out for the first huntÖ. We met our guide and we were off
I donít remember the details of the hunt just that we seemed to drive down a warren of forest tracks each looked like the one before in a vw golf (it didnít get stuck once, it broke but didnít get stuck).
When we got back to our hotel the polish hunters were already there drinking homebrew vodka, as a welcome we were offered a shot glass, Mark & I knocked it back, BIG MISTAKE it was pepper vodka and it must be said it was also quite revolting. The other types werenít any better so at midnight I made my excuses and went to bed.
Friday 9th January Marks account
Up and out at six am into a stunning snowscape, icy cold but an instant wake up for tired eyes and dull minds. We drove a while then checked a clearing which had been well trampled by boar during the night. Unfortunately for us just about all the places we stalked into told the same story. We did see some huge Roe, Reds and many Wolf tracks as we moved from place to place. The temperature was around minus ten, so the snow which had fallen was still powder soft and nothing like the grey sludge we are used to in the South of England. We returned to the hotel for a hearty but unusual breakfast of scrambled eggs, ham and onion . Not my first choice after a heavy night and an early start, but "when in Rome........"
Slept in till late morning, and after a light lunch we were out again with Andrew. At the first clearing we were disappointed and were about to turn and leave. Suddenly Andrew stopped and we knew something must have caught his eye. Sure enough two small boar had slipped quietly into the snow covered glade. Andy gestured to me to take one of them. Freehand at about sixty yards I took the shot. The boar dropped on the spot. We approached and saw exactly how small the beast was. Andy later explained that it was not right to see two such young boar alone without family around them. When he performed the graloch his thoughts were confirmed. I had shot the smaller of the two. It had next to no body fat and a very enlarged bile duct. These all indicated ill health and an unlikely chance of seeing next spring. Glad to have avoided this little fellah suffering a slow death through starvation or sickness we headed off to the next area.
Twenty minutes later we had to brake hard to avoid a gang of four young males that ran across the track in front of us. Andy told me to take one if it presented itself. I closed the bolt as I stepped onto the snow. In one movement the rifle was loaded in my shoulder and I had a boar broadside on in the cross hairs. No hesitation at a time like this, the 7x64 round was on it's way, the Sauer trigger breaking came as a surprise to me, it always does. Crisp as an icicle, it breaks without creeping at all. I was now looking through the scope at the boar as it kicked it's last, holding steady in case my shot was not as sure as I had thought. As soon as I was happy the boar would not be running off I told Andy and Claire the rifle was safe, and they joined me to go forward and take a look. A nice boar of about the right weight to add to our tally. We returned to Andrews house in the forest to drink coffee and vodka. A family friend arrived shortly after us with a ham his mother had cured and smoked. A real treat, sweet and with a hint of cloves from the brine solution it had been cured in.
After having eaten and drunk so well it was somewhat begrudgingly that we set off back out into the snow and cold again.
We stalked into two more sounders that evening, both boar I shot at, neither fell. I know one for sure was missed over the top. We found several long bristles in the snow. These are found along the top of the spine, and form a kind of crest, standing some five inches tall. I would like to say my inaccuracy was due to the vodka encounter, but truth be told I just misjudged the shot.
Later back at the hotel we joined the Polish hunters once more. We compared notes, and found Richard had also shot a very small example. On the scales they weighed ten and eleven Kilos each, the locals said we had missed the cats and shot the rats! We chatted for some time and with the help of Andy and Larysa, I set up a surprise for Claire and Richard for the following morning. Andy left for home and we started upon a very long night. The vodka flowed and then some! One of the Poles, a divorce lawyer was keen to show off his culinary expertise. He had produced some wild boar ham and salami. Both were out of this world! Tales were told and lies were believed, I left the party at three am, but I heard Richard getting into bed at a quarter to five the next morning
Up and ready for the early hunting
Again a warren of tracks and turns
Hotel for breakfast thenÖÖ.back to bed for over 3hrs sleep now that might not seem so special to others but as one who always gets up between 6.30/7am (even at weekends, are you sobbing for me yet? No, well shame on you) it was wonderful to catch up on just a little of my lost sleep.
2pm quick lunch then our guide is with us again for the afternoon hunt Mark has 1 rat sorry I meant boar and a slightly larger one as it crossed the road with a gang of his mates (we suspect he had just been doing something naughty and was leaving the scene before he was caught) unfortunately he made the mistake of stopping to look at us, and as the line in pretty woman goes ďbig mistake, hugeĒ. Iíd like to say he lived to regret looking at us but he didnít (live that is)
We called in at our guides house for coffee of course the vodka came out along with some really good smoked ham/boar and chocolate biscuits (not really odd, being a girl thereís never a wrong time for chocolate) We talked about the afternoons hunting (Iíll leave mark to tell of the 2 missed animals in his own words!)
Then back to the hotel for more vodka, now either itís better vodka or Iím getting used to it OR my taste buds are dead from the pepper stuff who knows.
Saturday 10th of January Marks account
As agreed the night before Larysa picked us up from the hotel at nine am. She took us to the beaver dam that I had visited the year before. The devastation these animals wreak is incredible. Acres of forest are decimated as the trees die from drowned roots, those that are not gnawed to death that is. These gentle amphibians have to constantly chew to control the growth of their teeth. For the surrounding trees this means disaster. The forestry commission will not allow them to be shot or trapped, so the foresters have to stand by and watch as their beloved forests are either eaten or drowned in the lakes created by the beavers dams.
Having marvelled at the beavers efforts and tracked one (which turned out to be the tracks f the foresters dachshund), we headed back to the hotel. Now came the best bit of the entire trip for me at least. I had asked Andy and Larysa if they could arrange a horse and sleigh for us. We had seen the outfit go past the hotel the day before, looking and sounding just magical. At twelve noon our man arrived with a chunky looking fifteen year old chestnut cob. I normally worry about the state of horses used for this kind of work, but this chap was in fine fettle, and keen to work. We climbed aboard, and sat on scaffold planks wrapped in blankets. The sleigh had clearly been used for collecting firewood, it's design was simple but very functional. A flat bed about four feet wide and ten feet long. Plank sides at a gentle angle to allow the logs to lie stable within. Health and safety would have had a field day! no seat belts! no disabled access! Oh I do wish we were a bit more like Poland! We were off with a jolt which caught us all out. I find it hard to describe the sensation of slipping through the forest. The sound of the jingling bells on the harness sang back to us. It was as much as I could do NOT to start singing the tune. The only other sound was that of the snow slipping under the runners, and the occasional crack as we passed over patches of ice. The German name for a sleigh sums the sound up beautifully "schlitten". Snow hung heavy on the sagging branches of the tall pines we passed. When the weight became too much, it occasionally slipped with a shlump onto the ground. After an hour or so seeing no one we turned off down a side track and into a clearing. A wooden shelter had been built with benches and a table under it, the snow had been blown in and still covered everything even under cover. Being so cold though, it simply brushed away. There was a stone circle where countless fires had been lit, and we added one more to the count. Andy had brought two sacks along, one with dry wood and kindling the other with hot gluwein, bread and sausage. Thin whips were already cut and stacked in a rack nearby. We each speared a sausage and started slowly immersing them into the flames. The smell of wood smoke and cooking meat in the fresh air,,,,I have it in my nostrils now, sitting here in my living room hundreds of miles away! The three of us just kept looking around us, then at each other. Foolish childish grins exchanged at the unbelievable nature of what we were doing. All too soon, like the arrival of dawn after a good sleep we had to leave. With bellies full of warm spiced wine and sausage we set off to return from our dream world to real life.
We drove from the hotel back into the forest to Andrews house, where after yesterdays two missed shots I want to check the zero of my rifle. I find it is shooting 2" high and 1 1/2" right. Adjusted back to 1 !/2 high at 70 yards we set off to hunt. I'm feeling much more confident now, and very soon we are watching two boar in a clearing. Chose my animal and placed what I thought was a good clean shot. The boar sprinted off together, my animal too. I watched it leave with disbelief. As it became smaller I sensed it slowing, but lost sight of where it went after fifty yards or so. We waited a while and walked to where I thought it was when shot. Nothing to be seen. Very disheartened we started walking into the forest. We found the boar dead about seventy yards in, shot through the lungs. Working backwards it was easy to follow the blood trail. The boar had run an erratic zig zag route through the woodland several times jumping clean over fallen trees. Emerging back in the clearing I could see the start of the trail was well to the right of where we had been looking. Another lesson learned. On a featureless white snow blanket it is very difficult to pin point the spot where you thought the pig was standing. We could not walk a straight line from the point where the shot was taken to the point of impact, and by the time we had reached the clearing I was well wide of the mark.
On closer inspection I started to understand these animals a bit more. They have a heavy layer of fat under the skin, which will effectively plug a bullet wound unless large enough. I was placing my shots about one half of the way up the body., slightly behind the front leg.
As the pigs we were shooting were yearlings and quite small the 7x64 round was passing straight through with hardly any expansion. Furthermore, the two shots I had missed were too high. The crest of bristle stood almost five inches high. On such small boar this was almost one third of their body's height. I had been placing my shots half way up the body, the rifle was shooting 2" high, placing the bullet above the spine and through the crest of hair. I made a mental note to deduct the top five inches of the silhouette and shoot one third up from the brisket.
We moved to another area and sat up for a while, watching the almost full moon rise above the trees. Apart from a very nervous fox we saw nothing. By the time we climbed down the moon was casting a really bright almost blue light. At the next clearing we had boar feeding. With renewed confidence I placed the bullet just right. The boar rolled over, kicked once or twice and lay still. Upon inspection I found a bullet path which had cut straight across the top of the heart, much better!
We did stalk into another group in the woods but on this occasion the wind was not in our favour and they left us without a sound being made.
We later found out that Richard had lost a boar which we then had to find. Bogdan and his tracking dog were summoned, and within a few minutes of arrival the boar was being dragged back to the Jeep.
Our guides lovely wife collects us and takes us to walk around the forest near their home, we see the damage done by a family of beavers with some trees felled while others are works in progress and look just like the typical cartoon drawing all chewed to a narrow spindle near the base. Their lodge was surprisingly large but Iím told they keep adding to it so it will get even bigger.
On the way out in the morning we stopped at a local church. The front of the building and entrance area gave no clue as to the explosion of colour, sound and wonderful smell that greeted us as we entered, there were no seats except for the older people so all stood for up to 3 hrs needless to say we didnít stay quite that long.
At noon we are met back at the hotel by a local man with his horse and sleigh, it is a stunning sight, the horse is a beautiful chestnut with big soulful brown eyes. The forest is carpeted in a good layer of pure white snow, the only noise is the gently shhh of the sleigh and bright jingle of the bells on the harness, even the horses hooves are quiet as he moves from walk to trot, no tension on the reins, the horse knows the tracks and he dictates the speed. The sleigh is stopped for us to look at a beaver dam and lodge but even better we spot wolf track. From the shape & depth they are judged to be tracking in a group of about 5, then the tracks change and it looks like the pace has quickened with deepened prints and claws digging in for more grip, we suspect they are now chasing, and the tracks are todays. As we turn around we assume the trip as almost at an end but our wonderful hosts have yet another treat in store, we stop in a clearing with a large covered picnic area surrounding a pit for fire. A fire is lit and from a small area near the edge of the clearing ready sharpened sticks are gathered to put sausages on, while cooking these over the flickering spitting flames we drink warm mulled wine and chat. The horse stood outside the clearing covered with his blanket, the gentle jingle of bells reminding us he was waiting patiently.
Back for lunch and change for the afternoon hunt.
Zero the rifle
2 nice animals for mark
We met the other guide as he passed on his way to collect the chief hunter and dog, a pig had been shot and lost by another hunter. We went along to see the dog work, it showed no interest while on the lead as we walked/ran through forest to the last place the animal was seen, once off the lead the dog was like a laser guided missile, it disappeared into the night and we waited, then came the barking, relentless and high pitched. The head guide was off in pursuit of his dog and the boar, shortly after a shot the 3 barks from the dog. The animal was dragged out and although it was not the ideal way for a hunt to go the animal had been found and dispatched.
Back for supper and more vodka
Sunday 11th of January. Marks account
Picked up at 7am, saw very little other than some Roe. Back to the hotel for 08.30 and breakfast.
Went for a walk with Claire to the place we had cooked the sausages yesterday. Sat chewing the fat for some time, and tried to identify all the tracks we came across. Predominantly fox, some roe and red. Returned to the hotel, and were met by a very smart looking Andrew. He was all dressed up for a concert that evening in Beoveja, in the forestry training college. It turns out that as well as playing the hunting horn he has formed a foresters choir. Claire and Richard were dropped off at the museum, while Andy went to rehearse for the evenings performance. Larysa and I went to a nice hotel for a coffee. On the walk to the hotel I had seen a guy using an auger bit, drilling into the ice which was covering a lake nearby. On our return walk he was sitting on a bucket fishing through one of the holes. Poles are very fond of carp, it is a speciality dish at Christmas and new year.
having met up with Claire and Richard we went on to the college and watched some kids re-enacting the "Little Match Girl". In this version she is adopted by some rich couple. Much nicer than in ours, where she dies!
Now for the main event, the foresters choir. I have to say that despite singing only in Polish we all thoroughly enjoyed it. The only song we recognised was silent night. Of course we had to do a trilingual rendition on the way home in the car.
Picked up at seven By Christopher and driven to Andrews house in very poor light. We were only a couple of hundred yards from his house when we almost ran into a huge red stag. Very impressive.
Out with Andy, bumped into two sounders of boar. Shot two, nicely placed shots and no dramas. We were back at Andy's by eight thirty with two boar in the barn. Richard gut shot another that needed tracking with the dog
Hotel for leisurely breakfast
We are collected at 12.30 to go to a local museum set in parkland that once had a tzars palace (burnt down long ago and removed) Then on to see our guide in a charity concert with a foresters choir.
During the evening hunt marks has 2 good animals
Back to our guides for coffee and you guessed it more vodka.
Hotel to wait for the other hunter and hear if he was as successful as Mark
Monday 12th January. Marks account
Slight change of plan this morning. We are picked up at seven by Christopher, no rifles just cameras. We drive to some open ground and out with the optics. A large black shape is picked out against the woods about a mile away, yew it is definately a Bison. Christopher is about to return to the Jeep when another then another is spotted. We drive into the forest about a mile and a half back from where we saw them. Driving slowly we are all scanning ahead for any movement. None is seen, so we stop about 1 one hundred and fifty yards from where we think they should be. Creeping forward we spot them, just out on the flat ground eating. Step by step we get closer willing them to stay put. At about forty yards they spot us through the trees, and start to move off, not away but across us. Richard and I manage several photos and even some video footage. There are eight or nine adults and a calf, not a good situation to be too close to. Weighing about a tonne and standing six feet to the shoulder these animals are compact solid power on legs. Their shoulders are emphasised by the thick coat they grow there. It makes them look very front heavy, almost as if they could over balance and topple forward. Having watched the herd move back into the forest we move out into the open. Another herd of Bison are being heckled by a farm dog. They donít look particularly bothered, but I think the noise of yapping gets them down. As they move it seems they are unaware of us, as they are coming our way. The distance closes and Christopher wants us to move back into cover. Iím not sure that we need to move, but he is the guide and we follow his direction. Later I ask him why we moved so early. He tells me these animals can move through a forest of five inch thick saplings snapping them cleanly without breaking stride, point taken.
We return and eat lunch and are then taken out by our respective guides. I have already had a word with Claire and have said I am happy for her to take the next shot should a nice safe clear one present itself. Andy drops us off promising to return in an hour, after ďIĒ have shot my last boar of the trip. First high seat we wait in is well constructed with walls and roof to keep off the worst of the weather. We sit up for almost an hour before a sounder of boar enter the arena. They seem nervous, clinging to the forest edge. Eventually one or two of the smaller pigs venture out into the open, followed by their less naive parents. I pick out a nice small pig for Claire, but disaster, Claire canít see them. The problem is the rifle rest on the high seat is far too high for Claire. The stock and length of eye relief on my scope donít help. Eventually after several attempts we climb down, and meet Andrew waiting for us. He looks puzzled but is very understanding when I explain. We move off to another area via the local shop. I drive as Andy has over imbibed in vodka over lunch. More beers are drunk at the shop, I think this is a way of life here.
At the next clearing we are again left. (I think Andy needs to sleep off his lunch). I do find myself thinking I should have brought a compass. I would never find my own way out of this dense forest without one.
There are boar in the clearing but the light is not that good. We decide to watch for a while to allow the moon to rise higher. I try moving along a row of small shrubs to see if I can find a nice spot from which Claire can take the shot prone. None is found so I return to Claire.
We try lying down where we are but there is a small rise between us and the boar. I can see perfectly when kneeling but prone Claire can see nothing.
We move back to the leg of the very substantial high seat. Claire has the rifle in her shoulder, and the boar in the scope. Now it is just a waiting game. The small pigs are constantly on the move, in and amongst the adults. After an eternity one separates and stands broadside on. It is now or never and I ask Claire if she is happy with the shot? Yes, and away goes the Sako 170 grain hammerhead. The boar goes down.
Exactly as we have discussed earlier I take the rifle from Claire who releases it easily. Leaning on the seat leg as a rest I look through the scope, chambering another round almost subconsciously. The boar kicks a while then thankfully lies still. I really wasnít looking forward to having to take the follow up shot, and it wasnít needed. Claire is quite rightly delighted, hugs and kisses are exchanged as we come down from the high of the stalk and the shot. We allow a respectful time lest a rather peeved parent might want revenge, then move to take a look at Claireís first boar. The shot was a bit high, but these were not easy conditions. I remind myself this is Claireís second shot at an animal. First was the roebuck last summer. This was so different, shot in the dark under the nearly full moon, spectacular! As we drag the boar out from the clearing Andrew is walking towards us. I think by the look on Claire's face he knows instinctively who has taken the shot! More congratulations from him. More kisses from Claire, sheís getting rather too fond of the kissing and hugging lark I think. Very bravely I think Claire undertakes to do her own graloch under the watchful eye of Andrew, Iím happy to see it done so well. We return to the hotel to settle our accounts, and the weights of the pigs shot are recorded. After thanking our guides and repaying their kindness in the time honoured way with a discrete folded note handshake and a bottle or two of fine Scotch whiskey we drink to their health.
Alone now we chat on into the night savouring the last hours of our time here.
A fabulous time has been had by all. Richard has shot his first Polish wild boar, and loved seeing the way tracking is done here. Claire has topped us both by shooting her second beast ever, a truly wild boar, in far from our normal shooting conditions. I have enjoyed the ride on their wave of excitement just being here. I can truly say the hunting for me was secondary.
Anyone fancy it next year?
The other guide who takes us to where he has seen bison collects us and sure enough we spot 2 families, the car is parked down a track and we walk to get a better view.
We are able to get within 50yrds before our guide gets a little worried, imagine explaining how you lost 3 hunters in broad daylight and no rifles, so we do as asked and move back, a little. The second group are across the field with a farm dog barking wildly at their heels but they hardly seem to notice, I wonder would you be bothered if you stood nearly 2 meters at the shoulder and weighed up to a ton, oh and your mates were with you, probably not but all the same they moved on more to get away from the noise than anything but I bet thatís not how the dog tells the story.
Hotel for breakfast and a snooze then out at 2 for the afternoon hunt.
Mark has kindly suggested that as he has shot as many as he wants, that if the opportunity arises I can shoot a boar.
We go to the 1st clearing but see nothing so on to the 2nd clearing no animals so we climb into the high seat and wait (our guide says he will be back in an hour)
We wait and wait but our patience pays off as a family emerge into the clearing bathed in moonlight, theyíre not settled and keep to the edges until a little one can resist no longer and breaks out of the group and into the middle of the area to find the food, shortly followed by the bigger and now braver pigs.
Marks brings the rifle up and checks through the scope all is looking great until he passes it to me and asks of I can pick out individual animals, well no I canít see a thing, he checks and theyíre all still there, it doesnít matter I still canít see a thing. We discover after a while that the bar on the high seat is just too high for me (itís either that or Iím too short so think very carefully before you answer that one)
Unable to see enough to take a shot we climb down to find our guide has been watching for a while wondering why there were no shots. Even with 2 of us climbing down didnít disturb them.
On to the 3rd clearing and again the guide says he will return shortly. Mark climbs the high seat but Iím not keen to be reminded how high the bar is (remembering the high seat is the problem not my height) so I wait on the track before crawling forward to get a clear view of a family of about 7 pigs. As mark climbed down he decided to make his way along the track to see if there was a better vantage point, but no we had chosen the best place first time.
He comes back and we sit and wait for the moon to rise over the trees for better light, it gets better and better so I lay down to give as much stability as possible but as I lay down I lose sight of the pigs, marks is kneeling beside me and can still see then, We work out that I canít even see over the small ridge of snow between us and the pigs (how can you be too short lying down) so I have to stand and move back to use the leg of the high seat to steady myself.
I get the animals in the scope and Mark gets them in his monocular, we discuss which ones are suitable and wait for them to stop bickering and pushing each other about.
When I am happy we are both looking at the same animal marks releases the safety and I steady myself. I ask Marks if he is happy and of course he says that when I am happy then take the shot, the chosen animal turns broadside and after a couple of deep breaths I squeeze the trigger and for a split second cannot see for the muzzle flash. Marks takes the rifle from me and reloads in case a 2nd shot is needed but though the animal kicks a few times it is dead.
We wait a little while just to be sure there were no aggrieved parents nearby. The coast was clear so we made our way across the clearing and collected my pig, she was dragged by mark and our guide who joined us as soon as he heard the shot, he shook my hand kissed me 3 times (on the cheek of course) and they gave me a sprig from a nearby tree for my hat.
While the guide was getting his car I did the gralloch supervised closely and the hunt was complete.
As we return to our guides house for a last coffee with him and his wife we see a young (about 3 yrs old) elk cross the track in front of us he kindly stops as he gets across so we get a really good look at him. At 3 heís already big with the most beautiful big doe eyes looking back at us from amongst the trees, then he just faded back into the forest. What a wonderful way to finish a fantastic hunting trip full of new experiences and unforgettable sights.
I would like to extend huge thanks to both of my guides A & BOUM