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Mar 25, 2013
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"Here is a personal hunting story written by our very own Dempsey Bayly. This of course happened a good few years before him and Michael Sippel started their company Bayly Sippel Hunting Safaris. We hope you enjoy the story! - BSHS"


It all started whilst working at my December job. With the prospects of a slightly thicker wallet and a student’s ability to swiftly squander money earned, my thoughts turned to what my new riches could best be spent doing. After much deliberation I eventually decided to set myself a challenge which would later become an obsession - hunting a Bushpig at night with a bow and arrow. Having been lucky enough to shoot my first one at the young age of 13 (an age where I couldn't fully appreciate the challenge that is a bushpig hunt). I thought it would be an exciting hunt to undertake especially with a bow at night as I was lucky enough to happen upon my first Bushpig mid morning not far from the farmhouse with my trusty .243 in hand! After narrowing down the number of farms that were willing to accommodate such an adventure to a handful I eventually contacted a gentleman by the name of James Murray who confirmed that it would indeed be possible.

With the prospects of university coming up at the end of January I booked my first visit in the beginning of January, allowing me 3 nights to hopefully bag this elusive creature. On arrival at the farm - located in the Rooiberg area of Limpopo - I was pleasantly surprised to arrive at one of the most beautiful and well run farms I’ve been to in a long time. James at the time was running a very professional operation and monitored most aspects of the farm with a number of trail cameras set up at various waterholes and feeding spots thus allowing him to have a firm grasp on the going’s on within the farm. On arrival to the farm only one of the baits had been consistently hit. It was a sounder of 5 pigs consisting of 3 sub adults, a big sow, and a big boar. The pigs however were still inconsistent at this stage and came in at random times of the night, likely due to the abundance of food available in the summer.

Driving to the bait site I could see that the area we were hunting looked promising. The bait site was located at the bottom of a thickly bushed valley with a small stream just off to the left which flowed during the summer months. The bait sites location however led to another interesting twist as one had to dress in up to 6 layers even in January as the valley created a wind funnel as well as a small frost pocket which, as the night progressed could get seriously chilly! I was to be seated 13m away from the bait in a tree stand roughly 2.5m off the ground with between 3-4 red lights set up to help illuminate the feeding spot as much as possible (James leaves his red lights on all night every night so as to get the pigs used to feeding in those conditions thus increasing the hunters chance greatly).

The first visitor of the night to the bait - and looking very much like a bushpig for the first few seconds - was a very large porcupine! After settling my nerves and allowing the adrenaline to leave my system from the initial shock of thinking that I had a bushpig in on night 1, I practised some potential shot opportunities on the porcupine until he calmly moved off. Alas no bushpigs were seen before I exited the hide and called it a night, however, in the morning the finished bait showed that they had come in after I had left, most likely in the early morning hours. That next day whilst driving around killing time we came across a wildebeest afterbirth and knowing that bushpigs can often be found feeding on meat or rotting carcases we opted to place the afterbirth out with the mielies hoping to offer a veritable feast to the pigs that evening.

I got into the stand that evening armed with a cushion to sit on as I had learnt my lesson from the previous evening after the first hour or two. The night was fairly active and in the gathering dark I managed to make out the 3 sub-adult bushpigs running along the hill to my right roughly 50m away. I didn’t let the sight of the running pigs get me down as I knew it meant the other 2 mature pigs were in the area. As the clock struck 8 I heard heavy breathing directly below me and glancing down suddenly heard the snort of a bushpig! And what a lovely sight it was to see a boar directly below me and so close! The pig however had other plans and was either uncomfortable with the situation or could smell me as he tried a further 4 times to come into the bait, spooking everytime and taking off into the bush. After falling into a restless half sleep and waking fully at roughly 1am I assumed the pigs were done for the night. Deciding to call it a night I gave the area a quick shine with my headlamp and lo and behold standing right there just beyond the light was a massive brown hyena, (talk about a wake up call!) unperturbed by the light he proceeded to come into the feeding area and promptly snatched up the afterbirth and left. Needless to say I only left the stand as the Cruisers tyres crunched to a stop on the road above me! To be brief night 3 ended with no bushpig coming in, most likely as a result of the hyena so it was back home and back to the drawing board I went.

A hunt was immediately booked for mid March when I would be having my university recess, although this time it would be both me and my Father paying a visit to Buffelsrant. On arrival James informed me that the pigs were finally into a good routine and were coming in between 7 and 8 every night for almost 2 months. This bode exceptionally well for my prospects and I set out for the hide that night in high spirits. Not knowing that a serious unforeseen flaw was shortly going to end my first real chance on my second trip. And it was as simple as the golden rule - test your equipment before you intend to use it! With only good intentions my father had in the interim placed an illuminating ring onto my peep sight to help me shoot more easily in the dark. It looked awesome during the day but at night it glowed too brightly and was too close to one's eye thus giving a blurring effect which made the pins almost impossible to see and to aim with. Unfortunately heading straight from my residence in Pretoria to the hunt I didn't get a chance to test out the lumo ring in the dark and I paid the price. At 7.30pm like clockwork the big boar and sow strolled in, not scenting me due to the copious amounts of mielies I had rubbed myself down with. Waiting for the boar to get into position I lit up my pins and leant forward into the shooting position. After a while the sow bumped the boar into a broadside position and having mentally prepared myself for this exact moment I slowly drew the bow. Having achieved that without the pigs leaving in a cloud of dust I settled into my anchor point only to see a glowing blur much to my horror as a result of the lumo ring! My only option? Let the bow down quietly. Unfortunately as silently as and slowly as I thought I had been, the movement and noise combination was too great and off went my pig not to be seen for the next 2 nights. We did not leave empty handed however as my father shot a lovely wildebeest cow to replenish the biltong stocks!

Upon leaving I heard that another group of hunters was booked in for the following week or 2 and were also interested in hunting bushpig. Having done the hard work as well as the many uncomfortable cold hours in the tree stand I couldn’t face having someone else shoot ‘my pig’. So I asked James if he could continue monitoring the pigs and if they started feeding again to let me know so I could potentially return that week for a last ditch attempt. On Wednesday morning I received a call from James and heard that the pigs had been in from quarter to 6 until roughly half past 10! Great news! I had the thumbs up for a last chance at what had become an obsession by that stage. As I set off to the farm my mom thought I had gone clinically insane but wished me well whilst my dad wished me the best from his work.

Arriving on the farm I was shown the pictures of the previous night’s activities but all was business between me and James as we planned for me to arrive at the stand with the feed truck at 4.30 as a pose to the usual 5.30 so as to keep everything as routine for the pigs as possible. After rubbing every item of clothing I was wearing with rotten mielies to make completely sure I was scent proof, we set off to the stand with me feeling quietly confident that Murphy was going to smile upon me that night. Arriving at the bait site we quickly replaced all the dead branches around the tree stand with some fresh ones to provide me with some shadows and to help break my silhouette against the skyline as it was almost full moon and fairly bright at night. As I watched the sun go down behind the hill and saw the lengthening of the evening shadows slowly take effect I took my bow off the hook and sat with it on my lap hoping to be one step ahead of the pigs.

Like clockwork at 18.50 all 5 pigs emerged, without ever hearing them come in they all suddenly appeared a mere 30m to my right, and what a sight it was. Five white manes gliding silently through the grass towards the bait - true ghosts of the darkness. First to the feed as usual was the boar whilst the rest joined in around him, some at the tyre and others just feeding around the area. Whilst waiting for them to get settled and the boar to move into a suitable position the big sow suddenly spooked, pulling them all into the bush with her - heartbreak! What had gone wrong? What had I done wrong? Luckily it turned out a short minute or two later to be nothing as a young one came charging back in to get his share of the feed, it was just bushpigs being bushpigs!

Upon returning the big boar came in right to where I needed him and with a small nudge from one of the smaller ones moved perfectly into position. Even though it was still early into their visit he was in the perfect position with no others behind him so I decided it was game on! I drew the bow as silently and slowly as possible under the conditions and was relieved to see the bushpigs remain calm. Onto the next challenge, getting the arrow to go where I needed it to. Well let me tell you that in the dark if your peep sight is really small this can be very tricky task. With small adjustments and constant checking I eventually moved the pin into place and was locked into my anchor point. It was now or never as I'd been drawn for most likely close to a minute by this point. So with one last silent prayer my arrow flew gracefully from my bow...lifting my head to try and see the shot’s impact I heard the solid hit of an arrow on flesh and what appeared in the dim light to be a good shot. Silence ensued for roughly a minute after the shot before I heard movement on the hill, hoping it was my bushpig going down but not completely sure I sat quietly in the stand so as to keep the area as calm as possible whilst sending out texts to all my loved ones and James as to what had just transpired. This had all happened by 7 o clock! At 7.30 I quietly exited the tree stand and walked roughly a kilometre down the road so I could call my dad and James and chat properly about what had just happened! James arrived with the search crew at about 20:00 to begin the follow-up. On arriving at the bait my arrow wasn’t found behind where the bushpig had been but rather broken a metre further on from where he’d run indicating a pass through with the broken half of the arrow falling out. Another metre further on and there was a large amount of arterial blood spray on a rock, a very positive sign to start off with indeed!

From there on it was a very easy spoor to follow even in the dark, with large patches of grass being painted red as the boar brushed past them. After trudging for roughly 60m up the one side of the hill and feeling ever more excited and confident at the spoor we were following I shone my headlamp into the next clump of bushes in our path and staring back at me were the fat cheeks of a big old bushpig boar! Up until that point I'd been very reserved as nothing was certain until I had my hands on him. To say I went mental is an understatement, with massive amounts of shouting and hugging amongst all of us (mainly me) we celebrated the many months of hard work culminating in this moment. I couldn’t believe I'd finally accomplished my dream of a bushpig with a bow at night! It was truly a surreal experience and all the long hours and lessons learnt made the whole experience even more memorable!

And my what a stunning boar to be able to harvest, he had a beautiful orange coat, classic fat cheeks and a long mane that reached all the way to his rump, a true bushveld boar! After the customary picture session we discovered the shot to have been a high heart shot with the blades cutting the ventricles at top of the heart thus showing us once again how tough our African animals can be as he still went 60m uphill with a close to perfect shot. That night I reveled in what I’d been privileged enough to do and sat by the campfire in total awe of the experience I’d had. My bushpig trophy will hold a special place on my wall and forever remind me of those many months and 7 nights spent hunting him, a true honour. I would just like to thank James for his hosting skills and the many hours he put in for me to have the experience I did as well as my dad for helping to feed my obsession as well as giving me the greatest gift he could ever give me, a passion for the outdoors.

Dad's Wildebeest cow

Typical Terrain at the bait site

Where the boar walked in underneath me

My normal afternoon view

In the tree!

Never a bad idea to practice out of the tree stand!

Just another night!

Red lights already on

Three different angles of how I looked in my Tree Stand

Action time!

Ready and waiting

The pigs arrive, boar on the right

Seconds before the shot

Leaving quietly

The search team arrives

Now that's a good looking pic!

As I found him in the mountains

Set up for some trophy pics!

Shot placement indicated by the bubbles

Ready for the taxidermist



One of the broadheads cuts showing on the top of the heart
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