An Interesting Trophy
|Firearms - Rifles/Guns|
Warthog is one of the most well known of African trophies and they are almost always on a hunter's list of game to shoot while on safari. Their comical behavior, oddball looks and large tusks make them an attractive trophy for anyone's collection. I shot my first warthog, a nice old warrior, on my 2001 safari to South Africa in the Pongola area of KwaZulu-Natal. They will always be on my list when I go to Africa and hunt.
This year found me back in the Pongola and Mkuze areas in search of trophy nyala, the "most wanted" on my list for safari. I was hunting once again with Rob Duffield of Safari Guides Africa and we were ready for action. We had looked hard last year for a good nyala but I passed on what we saw. This year I was determined to get a good one bagged. It was with Rob, last year, that I got the old male wartie whose skull now sits in a treasured spot in my home.
Rob and I were hunting a concession in the Mkuze area at the beginning of my trip this year. I had decided to fly to South Africa in September to hunt. Spring came early and we had some cold and rainy weather to greet us. Early in the hunt we encountered a stormy morning while driving the back roads in the hunting area. Lightning and thunder approached and we were riding up on the bed of the bakkie. Suddenly a bolt of lightning exploded overhead, which sent me nearly to the floor of the truck bed. Copious amounts of hail and rain followed, so we decided to jam ourselves in with the tracker who was driving the vehicle. This made for tight but safer conditions!
A large leopard tortoise next to the road seemed to be enjoying a bath as the rain pelted down. We never did spot any game that day; the weather had them deep in the cover. Later on we would find a splintered utility pole that was probably the result of the close encounter we had with the lightning.
The following day was better weather wise but it was still cool and windy. We spotted some nyala bulls and some other game in the morning but didn't take anything as they were not quite to my liking. After lunch we decided to sit at a waterhole to see if any nyala would come down for a drink. About two hours into seeing various warthog families drift in and out, Rob raised his glasses quickly and took a look at another group of approaching warthogs. He was quiet for a moment and then said one of them had two tusks on one side. They came in to drink. When they finished, they turned to leave and Rob could see it had a matching set of tusks on the other side. He asked me if I wanted it. I said, "No, we are hunting nyala today!"
Talk about focus! I was determined to bag my beautiful nyala and I didn't want to frighten my prospect deeper into the bush. Later, I would regret passing that hog up, as we never did see anything shootable that day.
We were staying at the Pongola Game Reserve, which has very nice reed huts with thatch roofs. Later that night after dinner I retired early, as I was not feeling well. Either something I ate or drank was not agreeing with me. I was very sick by 10 o'clock that night. As the night wore on I battled through an unpleasant experience of a food poisoning-like illness. By morning I was weak and very close to seeing a doctor. I sat around and got in and out of bed and watched the sunrise and a nice impala buck graze outside the hut. By 8:30 I was able to keep water down and told Rob to load up, as I could not spend the day in bed. He obliged my request and away we went to search for the elusive nyala again.
Back at the concession I was feeling pretty seasick from driving so we did some walking. I felt too lightheaded to continue with much of that, so I decided we should head for the waterhole again and we would see what the day brought in for us. It was sunny and of pleasant temperatures, so we settled into a natural blind in some reeds and brush about 60 yards down wind from where the game seemed to be coming to the dam for water.
About 20 minutes after getting settled, our unusual warthog returned in a group. They were about 60 yards away and approached the water. This time she would not retreat into the bush again. I decided to take this unique animal. This was noted to be a female warthog but she was too unusual to let go. At the water, several other females and some piglets were surrounding her. It was almost like she was royalty amongst them and they were her guarded escort. I could not find a clear shot and waited for them to finish drinking.
When she finished, she began to trot slowly back towards cover and I was in position, waiting. Still feeling like I had been kicked to death, I had my .375 H&H resting on a tree limb and I was kneeling with the scope firmly on target watching the sow begin to clear the others. She was quartering away and on the go when she was clear and I let the rifle roar. All I could see was an orange flash and asked right away if I got her. There were excited whoops from Rob and our tracker, which told me I indeed scored. The Nosler 260 grain ballistic tip dropped her on the spot. I had a clean pass through in the vitals. I momentarily forgot my ill health, caught up in the excitement.
This warthog had the usual lower jaw tusks and a double set of upper tusks, giving her six tusks in all. Both uppers were well matched and quite large. It was an old female and hopefully her offspring may some day sport such a unique set of tusks.
Later on Rob found a skeletonized warthog carcass by a cattle trough. He got out to examine it and brought the skull to me. This was from an immature animal and was in the process of erupting new teeth when it died. The tracker said the piglet had drowned in the trough some time ago. Low and behold, it had two sets of upper tusks; the baby teeth were still there along with the new set coming in. That skull got put in my bag too. I plan to have the six tusker done up as a shoulder mount with tusk replicas and also to have the sow's skull and the baby warthog skull in a nice display.
Oh, I did get a nice nyala bull later on a different concession, but that is another story in itself!
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