Well its over and done with and my 40th birthday pressie from the wife was well spent.
This was my first time, along with most others on the trip trying out driven boar and I was eager to experience the whole scene.
We all met up at Bunwell and were instantly made welcome and the team got straight in to getting to know each other, and with the team made up of Gamekeepers, Pro stalkers(Humbled by John Robbo's presence) as well as eccenteric world travelled hunters and a token chappie from North of the border.
With bus and car loaded the trip was fast and efficient, customs on the way out was a breeze and the stop at the Frence equivalent of a hunting superstore was an eye opener.
A none to arduous drive took us to the hotel in good time for everyone to dump our kit and get straight in to a couple of beers before a good meal and plenty of wine with loads of banter.
Morning came and after a plentiful breakfast we loaded up and took the short drive to the area we would be hunting. After yet another breakfast in the trophy laden hunting lodge with lots of greetings from the French team who would be out with us we we given the rules of the day.
You could shoot one Boar per drive up to the maximum of 2 per gun for the day along with one Fallow doe or pricket and one trophy Sika stag may be taken between the whole group.
A card was given which were your pegs for the day and then with everything explained we loaded up in the transport for the first drive.
My first peg had me in the middle with good views in front to see the boar if they were coming and open ground behind where you must shoot.
With the sound of a horn the drive started and in the distance the beaters could be heard hollering and eventually the ound of the dog giving tongue.
Ahead I spotted movement and a great group of Red stags broke cover and moved from right to left. This got the excitement going as I drooled at the quality of them and my anticipation grew.
I spent the next half an hour listening to the occasional shot without seeing anything when suddenly the sound of the dogs got closer and the drumming of hooves became ever apparent. At first i thought it was the Reds turning back my way, that was until a boar broke cover heading straight at me, quickly followed by about 30 others.
I quickly selected a largish one turned and swung on on it as it run into the safe shooting zone, the Leupold VX-R 1.25x20 red dot followed through and as it touched its snound i squeezed the trigger of my Steyr Model M .270. The 156 grain Sako hammer head did the trick, the pig rolled over in heap of dust stopped dead in itss tracks.
After a quick reload and a check to make sure it was dead I turned to watch the rest of the boar race by, including a monter of a pig. The urge to take another one was hard to contain but stopped myself.
It took a few seconds for it to sink in that I had done it and then the grin appeared as a very long ambition had been realised.
The end of the drive sounded and great excitement was had as eight boar had been taken, five of which fell to the British team, four of which had taken their first boar.
The second drive found me on a flank and a short time into the drive out burst a good Sika stag, it crossed from left to right passing the gun on my left who missed, amazed I upped my rifle drew the dot on its shoulder and squeezed while swinging, as the stag stopped dead. My shot had gone infront due to the swing arghh.
I reloaded but with no clear shot I let it run to the next gun who missed it cleanly too. This was one blessed deer.
The french gun to my left took a boar which was followed by another, but it ran into a deer fence and I didnt find it sporting to shoot it as it tried to find a way though the wire, unlike the gun to my right who dropped it with 2 shots.
Another drive had me seeing more deer and glimpses of boar but not having a shot.
After stopping for more food French style which meant loads of good nosh and a restraint on over indulging in wine we finally got going again. And the French team we having a friendly bit of winding up as the score was eight all on the boar.
After lunch I had a peg with very little open ground and knew it would be difficult if anything broke the line by me.
Four Red hinds and a Staggie passed within feet of my left and two Fallow bucks stood for five minutes to my right.
There was alot of anticipation as in front of me somewhere in deep cover the dogs were trying to shift the pigs, and I could hear plenty of irate squealing but the boar ran in a different direction.
The next drive had me in the middle of the line again and this was hopefully a good thing, but my hopes dropped as I had very little line of sight through the thick cover.
The horn sounded and the beaters shouts grew, then the sounds of excited dogs, and a drum of hooves.
Out of cover broke around 10 Fallow does, but instead of crossing to me they crossed by the gun to my right who couldnt shoot as he had already taken a Fallow.
Yapping from excited dogs continued to grow to a crecendo and at first I heard it, smashing through the cover, then its black mass appeared to my left, a monster Keiler.
It broke to the French gun to my left, it was closer to him at first and wasnt in my safe zone, bang he missed, up went the steyr and I began to swing on it, bang his second shot missed, the gaps in the trees were sporting to say the least as my red dot ran through its great length, picking a gap as it crossed towards me I squeezed the trigger and a positive strike was immidiately followed my the Keiler dropping in his tracks.
The realisation of what I had shot with what was probably one of the best shots I have ever taken sank in, I cant describe the feeling but I think it may lead to a new mistress in my life.
Plenty of cogratulations were followed as the beast was dragged out by four of us to a track for collection, the French chap who missed it tried to stake a claim in it to, so I even gave him the pleasure of taking a photo of him with it.
My first time at driven boar and I had shot a trophy animal......wow
The last drive had more Red hinds pass me before the most amazing sight of probably 60 boar beating a hasty retreat. By then I had swapped rifle for camera and tried to capture the awsome sight.
The final bag was 21 boar and 3 Fallow, though John Robbo had one still to pick as did another of our team. The French team who out numbered us were gratious in defeat, and the friendly banter continued.
With the day finished and a good blooding from Mark, the boar meat was shared out, and my big piggy caped for the taxidermist by the estates team.
It was a tired team who returned happy to the hotel, where a slightly less drunken evening was had.
All I have is praise for Mark and David from Stalking in England, everything was catered for and well managed, and I can whole heartedly that if you have never shot driven boar before and want to try it, then get in touch with them, I will be again,