We had a great week out in the far East of Poland just after New Year. The snow didn't give us a nice reflective carpet, and likewise the moon was shrouded by a heavy cloud layer. We did get a few moments of good light but they were few and far between. I have run this trip on a non profit basis for a number of years and people come back year after year. The hunting is stalked rather than driven. It is more to my liking as I like a quick kill and a precise shot.
The guys who came this year all shot their allotted number of boar and the guides made sure we saw plenty.
Now let me move to the benefit of a variable magnification scope............
The scene before me was a confused one. Upward of a dozen boar in a forest clearing milling and squabbling the way domestic and wild pigs have a want to do.
The ground was devoid of snow and the moonlight we had planned the trip to coincide with showed no hint of playing ball. In short it was very dark.
I climbed the steps of the high seat and got myself comfortable. The boar continued to stay bunched up and nothing was showing a clear silhouette that showed me a clear shot. After an age of waiting one small boar (my target size) moved away to the right of the group. As soon as he was a few yards clear I discarded my binoculars for the rifle. Bear in mind this was not last light, this was around 11pm, so to find him in my 9x scope was not quite as easy as I would have liked.
After a few seconds scanning I picked him up still moving to the right away from the group. As wild animals do, he turned away from me and gave me only his rear end, so I waited, hoping he would turn broadside on. This he did, and started back towards the group in the centre of the clearing. He paused to grub about for some morsel on the forest floor, and at the moment there was just the slightest chink in the clouds which allowed a sliver of moonlight to assist me. I use an illuminated reticule scope, so I smoothly brought the red dot up the front leg, and just about one third of the way up the body. The shot rang out without me even knowing the trigger had broken.
For those of you who have never hunted at night like this, and especially those who always use a moderator, some additional information. The flash from the muzzle magnified through the scope momentarily blinds you. I was hoping to get a slap on the back from the guide but instead heard the immortal Polish word "KURWA". For those not in the know, this word is used when you hit your thumb with a hammer, cut your finger with a knife, or find you wife in bed with your neighbour,,,,,,,,not a good sign of a well placed shot.
I silence we climbed down, and to my great relief I could see the shape of a boar in the clearing. As we drew closer it did occur to me that the little frischling that I was looking at through the binos had gained a little around the middle,,,,,,,,,and at both ends,,,,,,and in length too. My little cull beast that should weigh under 29.9 kg turned out to be an 80kg bacher (female).
It transpired that she had followed the little guy at the moment I switched from binos to rifle scope, and with the magnification set to 9x I could only see her alone in the scope, with no size reference to anything else, I assumed she was the little guy I had seen leaving the group a second earlier. I was very embarrassed as it was my six or seventh time in Poland and I have built a very "British" reputation for shooting cleanly, accurately and carefully at the correct animals. So, I am a little the poorer financially, as I had shot an animal not on my cull program. ( I also decided to have the skin tanned as a reminder).
If I had just wound my scope out to 3x before running it back to 9x, surely I would have noticed how huge she was against the scale of the others.
We continue to live and learn (I hope).
maybe this will help someone else from the site avoid a similar mistake.
Best regards, and maybe see one or two of you in 2016,