Early one Sunday morning we packed the car and headed off, this was to be
my first ever hunt and Daniels’ first in the Northern Territory. 30
kilometres down the highway and 80 kilometres’ of dirt road later we
arrived at the area Daniel had permission to hunt. My first impression was
“how could anything live out here”... it was so dry and had recently been
burnt off. After dropping in to see the traditional owner we set off down
the dirt track to the first of several billabongs that held water all year
round. Daniel assured me that if we were to find pigs this would be where
they would be.
The contrast between the dry as a dead dingo’s donger
bush and the bright green areas around the billabongs was startling! There
were birds everywhere! Jabirus, ducks and all manner of flying, squawking
birdlife screeched into the air as we rounded the bend onto the billabong.
Rather than get straight into the pig hunting we decided to settle down
for a while and have our lunch while Gracie, my old red cattle dog
patrolled the edge of the waterhole and chased Plovers, Daniel kept a wary
eye out for crocs. Daniel wandered around in the mud on the edge of the
water and muttered that there were “plenty of hogs around here” He pointed
out some very large pig tracks in the mud and showed me what the
difference was between fresh and old sign.
Whilst he was paddling around in the slop getting more
excited by the minute I took out our digital camera and snapped off a few
dozen shots of this beautiful, peaceful area. Once we were fed and watered
we hopped back into Nissan Patrol and headed off towards some scrubby area
on the other side of the billabong which Daniel thought might be where the
pigs rested up in the heat of the day.
He instructed me to keep a close eye on the reeds and
water’s edge on my side of the truck in case a pig was lying doggo as we
went past. As I am watching the edge closest to me Daniel scared the hell
out of me and the poor dog by screaming PIG right in my ear! He pointed
right across the billabong and about 250 metres away a big, light coloured
pig was slowly making its way back into the scrub where Daniel had thought
they might hole up. He stamped on the brakes and bailed out of the truck
quicker than I have ever seen him move in my life! As he jogged forwards
to get a clear view of the pig I watched him stop, draw back the bolt on
his old 308 Ruger and take rest on a nearby tree. A few seconds later and
BOOM!! Ten thousand birds I hadn’t seen clawed their way into the air with
a cacophony of sound. I am sure I heard Daniel swear as he clean missed
the pig! You could almost see the question mark appear above the pigs head
as it struggled to figure out where the noise and splattering mud had come
from. I heard the bolt rattle back a second time and again. BOOM! The now
very worried pig staggered and fell as the sound of a solid hit came back
across the water.
Daniel ran back to the truck and told me to keep an eye
on the spot where the pig had disappeared while he drove like a demon
around the billabong. As we moved off I saw the pig struggle to its feet
and stagger slowly towards the scrub line. I had picked a small tree
before we tore off as fast as the diesel patrol would carry us and told
him to stop when we drew next to it. As I handed Daniel his rifle he swung
open the door of the Nissan and attempted to launch himself out of the
truck in a dead run to find the pig and quickly put it out of its misery
if it wasn’t already dead. He stepped out of the truck, rifle in one hand,
forgot to put his feet down and fell 3 feet face first into the mud!!
SPLAT!! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry but as he staggered to his
feet, covered in mud and with nothing hurt but his pride he turned back to
me and said “that’s why I don’t carry a loaded rifle” Laughing like a
hyena, I pointed out the spot where the pig had disappeared.
While I waited with the dog, Daniel slowly stalked into
the scrub and fired a final shot into the pig. It was all over for that
pig but I was still laughing… I must have laughed all the way home at the
vision of him going face first into the mud. I have been on many more
hunting trips since then, watched him shoot many more pigs, donkeys and
buffalo but that would have to be the funniest, most memorable, and my
along the billabong. Daniel shot from beside the tree on the right to the
tallest tree in the centre of the photo.