A Light Hearted Look At Our Latest Spear Hunting Mishaps

It's August 2012 and Winter's almost over. The hunting season was about to close. Yet there was no urgency to our actions. We had come to hunt. But we were not hell bent on anything. Had all the time in the world. No pressure. Had a hell of a time. The price was most agreeable. There would be no day fees. We would have the place to ourselves for as long as we needed it.

Simply marvelous!

When we arrived the two Ooms (uncle's) had already been on the farm for a day or two. Two oldsters, both well into their eighties. They were not hunting. They were up to some mundane maintenance tasks, just loving the time in the bush. Later on I realized that they had a rifle with them. An ancient Bloemfontein Musgrave in 308 Win. Perhaps they were secretly hoping that the two younger men would actually shoot something. I don't really know. But when Willem took out the broad spear and started honing the blade I could see a look of incredulity come over their faces. The way it happens with me when someone comes to the fire wearing new three dimensional cammo-clothing branded "Sniper". Uugh. How distasteful. Sawwe goedjies!! [ softy! ] The stuff is really becoming the scourge of the veldt. Like the various SUV's that transport the wearers thereof.

I explained that we were interested in impala and warthog, and that our primary objective was to use the c.s. broad spear-the primitive way-, and if that failed the 80 lb Jennings. Let me say right at the outset that there is a lot of game on that sliver of land bordering the Crocodile River, just downstream of the bridge at Rooibokkraal. We came to within spitting distance of impala, kudu and waterbuck. And I mean spitting distance. But as you might know 'spitting distance' is still long distance when you want to hunt with a spear! Besides, we had agreed that it would be warthogs first, as mentioned-the primitive way.

It did not take us very long to locate a few "possibles". Meaning aardvark holes that were currently actively being used by warthog. One of them was almost the perfect spot. It was located right in the centre of surrounding rosyntjie bos. At dusk on the second day we were lying in wait, and sure enough two warthog turned up and went down the hole. Willem soon had an ambush erected right on the edge of this natural fringe.

The plan was simple. We would give the hogs a day or so to ensure that our intrusion at their den had not scared them away. Then we would sneak up to the hole very quietly well before first light. We would sit in the ambush for an hour or two, knowing full well that hogs are not always early risers. And then Willem would assume a position above the hole, spear at the ready. I would do some stomping and when the hogs came out he would let drive and skewer one. I would then immediately join the fray in anticipation of a vigorously non-compliant hog. We would, the both of us, bear down on the shaft, preventing escape or attack. It would be a fight to the finish. Of course we did not let on about these plans while the Ooms were still there.

Whiling away the time we wandered all over the property. I had a really narrow escape. A huge aardvark den had become totally overgrown with grass, and I sort of stepped into it. Or shall I say I teetered on the edge for a second or two before I had the good sense to flop down on my backside. I am convinced that I would have broken a leg had I gone in. Imagine my disgust when I discovered that Willem had captured the entire episode on his digital camera. There I was bent almost double, on the edge of the abyss, both arms flapping like mad; trying to do I know not what. And then came the flop. Have you ever watched yourself flopping down amidst sekelbos and 'krokodes'? [Long white thorn bushes]

And of course no amount of pleading or threat could convince him to erase the clip. We explored around the old Kameeldoring, and we found a few pods that the Kudu had not yet claimed. And then on one tree, the name of which I do not know we observed the tiniest of buds. Like a miniature red blossom amidst the sea of winter grey. We photographed it from all angles. Briefly I thought about a radio programme presented by John Van den Bergh, entitled "Ook die klein dingetjies". [also the small things..] Hell must have been more than forty years before. I could still recall his voice. Peaceful and calm, and a bit metallic, coming from a Supersonic sitting on the windowsill of my father's house.

Anyway the next morning we were up and ready. It was bitterly cold. We walked without talking. I imagine Willem was thinking about stuff. I was just trying to keep up. When we neared the zone of destiny the primordial hunter within took over. We sort of glided into position. We controlled our breathing, and every so often we tested the wind. Right about when the first cramps hit me, the day broke in a spectacular fashion. I watched the sun struggling to clear the horizon. Then it was free, hovering like a magic ball and illuminating the earth. I was amazed at how shadows raced across the veldt, and how a kaleidoscope of colours and texture appeared and disappeared before my very eyes. To be very honest, I was happy to be alive. Aaaaah, to witness the grandeur and to be part of it!

And then I saw Willem. He was straddling the hole, spear held aloft with a grim and determined look on his face. Side-on he looked momentarily like an Ovahimba, having materialized out of nowhere and standing with his stick. He somehow didn't smell like an Ovahimba. We all know that the Ovahimba smear themselves with a mixture of ochre and fat and all manner of other disgusting stuff. No, Willem just smelled like a hunter who had not washed for four days. And that smell wafted all over the place, and apparently to the nostrils of the hogs, for suddenly they were on the move!

As I belatedly leapt to action the first hog came barreling up the hole. There was no mistaking the fact that he was on the move. I saw Willem lift the spear fractionally and then he let drive. There was a solid report as it sank up to the quill ions into the red earth. He had jumped the gun. The hog was still inside. As he withdrew the hog bolted out, lifted his tail and started the afterburners. A terrible stream of obscenities followed. I urged Willem to throw the spear. He was still contemplating his next move when the second pig erupted from the den. He actually stopped and glared accusingly at us.

"Vuilgoed" [rascal] shouted Nimrod as he let fly. The pig made good his escape. Shouting and gesticulating we actually set after him, only to come to our senses about fifty yards on. Then followed much back-slapping and reliving every moment of the -for us-still a hair rising experience.

After a while when we had calmed down, we concluded that our lack of knowledge hunting our quarry with only a cold steel broad spear was probably the main reason for our failure. We were at the right place, at the right time with a realistic weapon. We did not anticipate though that when the pig leaves the hole his front legs are bent, and he is propelled forward by powerful strokes of the back legs. He doesn't run out, he crawls out. This creates quite a lot of fuss, but it happens slower than you might think, especially if you are poised right above the hole, adrenaline pumping. In the heat of the moment you are likely to jump the gun (or should I say spear) because you anticipate the hog to shoot out of the hole like a speeding bullet. You cannot calculate a lead, as you would shoot at fowl or running springbuck. You actually have to retard the strike, allowing the head to emerge and then letting drive at the top of the shoulders.

Realistically, throwing a c.s. broad spear? - Just forget about it! A slender assegai maybe, but not a big broad spear. And of course if you know that there are two pigs down the hole, and you miss the one, for goodness sake, deal with number two before you start fussing.

To say that we had a fantastic experience would certainly be an understatement. I have over the years hunted many animals, using different firearms and even a compound bow. I have had many exhilarating experiences that will continue to nurture my soul for the rest of my days. But hog hunting with a broad spear in thick bush must rank near the top in a long list of unforgettable moments.

Oh yes, that very evening I had another unforgettable moment. We had managed to clean up and change our clothing. I was busy with supper when Willem appeared. He was wearing shorts. They immediately caught my eye, and he started explaining in a most peculiar way. "Please don't tell my wife about these", he said. "When she saw them for the first time she could not stop laughing for a week". "Eventually I promised to get rid of them. If she should discover that I still have them, my life will be pure misery".

And there he sat, in all his splendor. This man of Africa, a direct descendant of the great Voortrekker leader[Battle of Bloodriver], a distant relative to the original Jungle man, [Maj. P.J.Pretorius] a famous hunter and soldier who had 'seen the elephant', a spear hunter without fear. And he was wearing a three dimensional cammo-short of a most peculiar cut, made from a soft fabric. With "Sniper" emblazoned prominently on the front part!

"I doubt that she was laughing about the cut or fabric", I opinioned, skillfully keeping control over the waves of mirth that were building up inside". "But Sniper....", and then I burst into hysterical fits of laughter....

Author: Colyn & Willem
The 'softer' touch

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