Booligal Boars

By Nat Neeson

First printed in The Australian Archery Journal, Edition No 20 1994© Australian Bowhunters Journal Pty Limited

Not long before departing to some well known pig hunting grounds, a friend at the archery club said I was crazy going boar hunting by myself. I just smiled. Was I crazy or just keen? I had just driven for three days covering three thousand, three hundred kilometres to a spot that lives in my heart. I'll leave the answer to you.

As I drove to the back of the property, a medium boar ran across the beam of my headlights.

After settling into the shed where hunters stay, I lay in bed with the noise of pigs squealing in the distance. It was a good omen. I felt like I had come home.


The author Nat Neeson with his first boar for the trip.

The area consists of open black soil plains, large areas of lignum with scattered trees mainly along the creeks. There was water in them so hanging around the dams would be a waste of time. The first morning I walked the edge of what is known as the killing paddock, but it did not live up to its reputation and the afternoon proved fruitless too.

As night turned to day a heavy mist, hung like clouds in the high country, I headed for some scrub near the shed and very nearly walked past a good boar as visibility was very low. Backtracking to get the wind right I cautiously stalked back to the spot but he had disappeared. The rest of the morning was uneventful apart from nearly stepping on a black cat. By the time the mist cleared it was nearly eleven in the morning.

Later in the afternoon I sat up a tree with a commanding view and about an hour before dark I spotted a lone boar through my compact binoculars. As I stalked in, using the thigh high grass as cover, he was rooting up a patch of reeds. At ten metres. I stopped readying for the shot when suddenly his head flashed up and looked straight at me. I stood motionless hoping he would continue feeding but not this fella! With a woof he was gone. In the past I have taken pigs who have just kept on feeding. I love the stalk, it's what boar hunting is all about. My philosophy is if you get in close get a bit closer, whites of the eyes stuff, it increases the thrill.

Nat with a nice hog taken on the banks of a river.

Just on dark after an arduous stalk over an open plain - mainly on hands and knees I drew first blood on a good boar. As the light was not right for a photo, I set it up for the following morning.

Next day while travelling to a new area I came across five large pigs heading off a plain to the safety of the lignum. I tried to cut them off but was about two minutes too late as they were swallowed by the sea of this bush.

That afternoon I found a brindle boar in some trees, the wind was perfect as he slowly walked towards my ambush. Then unexplainably he threw his head up after stopping to nibble on some tender shoots before testing the air with flared nostrils and trotting off. Sometimes I think these big boards have a sixth sense. The wind was strong in my face and I was positioned behind a tree.

An hour later as I was walking back to the area where the five pigs had been that morning, a massive chocolate coloured boar appeared out of the lignum heading onto the plain. I dropped to the ground as I was caught in the open. I tried to close the gap to intercept him but the distance was too far. Then he stopped and started feeding. Crawling, I closed to about seventy meters, when a light plane could be heard in the distance.

Immediately his radar went up and he headed directly back the way he came, it was certainly turning out to be one of those days.

Just on dusk I finally hit a medium boar. It was a killing shot, but he bolted into the lignum and vanished. Five minutes later I took a consolation prize of a sow so the day wasn't a total loss.

The following evening, after an eventful day, I saw two black dots in the distance so I closed the gap at a trot. The sun had set and the only light being the afterglow. I stalked in only being able to see a silhouette. Raising the bow I put the twenty metre pin on the spot and released. I didn't know it at the time but it was a sow. She ran about forty metres before going to the great swamp in the sky. Instantly the other pig, a large boar which I had lost sight of, materialised out of the darkness and stood over his girlfriend. Nervously he looked in my direction but was very unsure. He circled down wind, had a whiff of the human scent and was swallowed by the night. That's the beauty of pins with light gathering heads as I get to take shots I would never have considered in the past.

It rained that night, which usually brings the swine out for a bit of rooting around the softened topsoil. I headed for a tree on the edge of a vast plain and immediately spotted two groups of black familiar shapes. When two hundred meters from the largest pigs it was down on hands and knees as the coyer was almost non existent. It has been my experience that most animals don't feel as threatened if you have four legs instead of two, so I crawled into twenty meters and readied for the shot. The sow and her young where perilously close, but the boar had bedded down. She looked at me several times but kept feeding but finally the boar stood up and moved toward her. Kneeling I drew, the arrow came off the rest, hit the riser with a metallic clunk which of course spooked them and they were gone. Looking around I saw another boar not far away so I made sure of this one with a quartering away shot which did the trick. I now have felt covering the sight window.

Things where heating up no sooner had I taken a photo when a group of medium pigs appeared on the edge of some Scotch Thistle. While heading towards them, a boar I had not noticed before, came straight towards me. I dropped to my knees and made myself as small as possible. At about thirty metres he stopped and stared suspiciously at me. He turned broadside as I came to full draw and put the thirty metre pin dead centre on him, however the shot landed under him. There was not a second chance. Proving that even cheating with sights doesn't guarantee a kill every time.

Nat with a large sow taken
in the afternoon.

Continuing on I sneaked in a zapped a medium brindle boar. While taking a photo I spied another pig about three hundred metres away. Talk about being in pig heaven! It was non stop action. By the time I reached there, the pig had mysteriously disappeared. As I scanned the vicinity I got a shock. I had nearly walked on top of a sow and half a dozen offspring who had bedded down. I dropped the boom on her and all hell broke loose. Pigs went in all directions. No sooner was the action over when I came across another group. Unfortunately while trying to get into an ambush position they changed direction and got a smell of my scent. They didn't hang about.

With only one arrow left, I decided to head back to the shack to replenish my hip quiver. I had not gone far when there was a lot of squealing over yonder. Moving in to investigate I found five large boars in a patch of waist high thistle harassing a sow. What a predicament. Five pigs and one arrow! From fifteen meters I got the drop on the best boar. We made eye contact and he bolted. I released the arrow striking slightly too far back. I froze, not wanting to pressure him. He moved off, but slowed to a walk mortally wounded. The other boars where totally unaware or didn't care about what had just happened and continued about their business at hand. Following at a distance I was hoping he would bed down, but his will to survive pushed him on. Circling ahead I was able to get into a position to intercept but could do nothing with an empty quiver. He was soon swallowed by vast expanse of lignum. Death was only a matter of time.

Heading back to the shack for more arrows I returned to the spot of last contact and had a thorough search to no avail. The moral of the story, in hindsight, was that I should not have taken the shot or carried more arrows in my back pack.

That afternoon I combed the same area hoping to find him and grassed a medium sow. Had a game of cat and mouse with two boars, who no matter which way I stalked kept changing direction. I must have spent at least an hour crawling as there was very little cover. They ended up winning the game in the end.

Just on dark I took a small boar for meat.

The following morning was to be the last of the trip as I had to head to Wagga Wagga to get my gearbox off my 4WD looked at. It was making strange noises - $2,200 worth to be exact.

Nat with a smaller sow taken at last light.

As the sun rose, it found me scouting the same area as the day before. All I found were a couple of groups of small stuff. The wind had some ice in it. Maybe that was the reason no decent game was to be found.

I decided to hit the road as it would be a slow drive praying the gearbox would hang in there. It did. There was one consolation, I would be back here in a couple of months. On my way back to West Oz after visiting some friends on Queenslands sunshine coast.

It's a hard life, but someone's got to do it. I'm glad it's me.