Changing of the guard....
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10-11-2013, 06:49 AM #1
Changing of the guard....
It is strange how sometimes a small and seemingly insignificant 'thing' can take the mind on a long trip to another time and another place.....
This one is especially for my friends down south, [ and others elsewhere.] who once,long long ago in a different world were also once 'troepe' and who can in some way relate to this ordinary warthog hunt.....
Thank you also to my dearest friend Colyn.
Changing of the guard
The prelude to this whole thing was rather ordinary. I had discovered the mud-bath purely by co-incidence. Constructing a hide was really no different from the countless times that I had done it before. I wish I could say that I made some or other fascinating observation while waiting for the pig. Truth is I didn't. I guess the only thing was the pair of falcons engaged in aerial combat for mastery of that small stretch of the Mmadikiri.
When the shot came there was nothing extraordinary about it. The 174 grain Hornady struck him squarely on the shoulder. I can still vividly recall the impact driving the moisture out of the mud leaving a dull circle on the otherwise gleaming side of the pig. In an instant he had raised the flag and had lit the afterburners. And then he was gone.
I gave him a good twenty minutes before I made my way across. Locating the point of impact was easy. There was plenty of sign of his passing. Tracks and mud. And a small distance further the blood spoor started. Funny how, for me at least the blood on the higher grass stems becomes a bit more noticeable once it has dried. Must have something to do with the light. The smearing on both sides off his passage indicated complete penetration at about the height that I anticipated. A huge pig, with impressive tusks. But, as I said, nothing extraordinary.
I soon realized that I had made several mistakes though.
And these mistakes would add up to make for an unforgettable experience.
The second most important was that I had foolishly left my hat when I started the follow-up. And now the sun was like the proverbial hot tin pan in the sky. Coupled with the humidity around the spruit the heat almost instantly became a factor. One of those simple things that would very soon bring about almost unbearable pressure. The half full water bottle must surely rank high on my list of mistakes for the day. The naive anticipation of quickly finding the hog, fueled by the foolish interpretation of the initial blood spoor must, however, rank supreme.
At the point where the blood spoor became intermittent I started marking the spots. It was not long before the blood spoor vanished completely. Casting ahead in half circles did not bring the required results. I went back to the second last marker and tried to predict his passage. Nothing. Back again. Over and over. Going down and doing my best to locate even the minutest of drop. Completely forgetting about the surface tracks.
And the sun beating down on my unprotected head. And the water gone all too soon. I was sweating copiously. It ran down my forehead and into my eyes, burning.
I used my scarf to wipe my face. The bush scarf that I had kept for so long. Instantly the mix of sweat and nutria took me back. To another bush and scorching sun. Following up on armed and dangerous adversaries.
After a few hours I started struggling with instilling discipline into the old grey matter. The prospect of having to endure the terrible thirst and scorching sun played a major role in helping me to lose focus. I became aware of even the minutest detail in my surroundings. The aroma of the veldt. The humidity of the spruit. The sounds of birds and insects. But however sharp my senses became, I did not gain control over my conscious mind. Time and time again I caught my mind wandering. I was thinking about the pig. Becoming involved with the pig. Becoming the pig.
I realized that in spite of whatever ideas I had to the contrary, being able to endure for hours on end in a small hide does not equate to mind over matter.
I thought about that Ovahimba fellow with the blade of grass between his teeth. How relaxed he was. Seemingly unconcerned with the hustle and bustle around him. Singularity of mind.
And then I saw it. The tiniest speck of rust red nestled between the grass stems. And then the bigger splatter whence it had come. Quite obvious actually. How could I have missed it. I made up my mind to concentrate. Almost like I did way back in standard seven. With just about the same result.
I was back on the spoor, but I found it difficult to concentrate. My mind kept wandering. Thinking about the pig, trying to anticipate what I would do in case of a charge. There were a great many bees about. Probably going to and from the water. The spoor left the thick stuff and curved to the left, away from the spruit. I remember thinking that a pig often veers off to the impact side just before he expires. The tracks lead clearly to a clump of haak en steek growing around the husk of a long fallen tree. I just knew that he would be in there, waiting. I was thankful that he was armed with a set of formidable tusks. Had he been armed with something else it would have been tough going.
I paused for a moment or two before covering the final distance to the bush. And suddenly I became aware of the buzzing of bees. Many bees. My senses were on red alert as I cleared the final meters. And then I saw the source of the buzzing. Never bees. But flies! The emissaries of death. And then I saw him, lying dead, facing in my direction. I sat down and I made my peace. I sat in silence. And I thought how my relationship with him had ended.
The quickening of my senses brought about by an intense consciousness of the symbiotic relationship between hunter and prey.
We started off as hunter and prey. We ended as brothers.
What was it that I read about native Americans believing the buffalo to be their brothers?
And what did Dave Grossman say about killing your brother.....?
Dispelling these thoughts I started the laborious work of recovering the carcass.
Later, when the hard work was done and darkness had descended over camp I thought about D H Lawrences poem about bats. Bats and swallows changing guard over the Ponte Veccio at dusk.
And as Morpheus closed his wings around me I wondered about bees and flies changing guard out there in the veldt.
About life and death.
About the symbolic value located in that changing of the guard. . .
About the change that I had personally undergone.
And mercifully sleep claimed me before I could think of what change my brother, the pig had undergone.
Willem Pretorius--Kingdom of Bahrain
10-11-2013, 08:47 AM #2
- Member of NAHC Life Member, NRA Life Member,SCI, Buckmasters
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Nice read Observe. ThanksEnjoy life now -- it has an expiration date.
10-11-2013, 09:55 AM #3
- Member of RFEC, RFETO
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By observe in forum Humor, Ridiculous, Shocking Jokes, Stories or PicturesReplies: 1Last Post: 03-05-2013, 08:33 PM