Big Tuskers Down Under
by Ed H Edwards, Lansing Chapter Member, avid hunter, and fisherman
A Golden Anniversary with a Diamond Bonus
“Shoot-mate-shoot,” whispered Karl Goodhand in the softest of tones. We had sneaked up on what looked to be a “cracker” of a boar rooting inside a hole out in a nearly dry flood plain. Only a few inches of his back were above ground level which allowed a stalk downwind to within ten yards. Karl scuffed his feet against the dried mud and eventually the boar heard the noise and half climbed out. Like a golfer making a put, I did what needed to be done and sunk the boar into his hole with a shoulder shot.
Easy-peasy, now we just had to pull him out, take pictures, cut out the tusks, and go look for another one. Well not so fast, taking a few steps closer the top crust of the dried mud broke like thin ice and we were instantly knee-deep in wet sticky mud! We had no choice but to lay down and roll out of the mess like a very pregnant woman struggling to get out of a vintage waterbed and ended up very muddy and physically exhausted!
How Do You Celebrate 50 Years of Marriage?
I wanted to plan a trip in 2023 as part of our 50 years of marriage celebration and Carol agreed to a trip to Australia. If successful an Australian boar would complete my SCI Diamond level for Wild Pigs and Peccaries of the World.
The true wild boar of Eurasia SUS SCROFA the progenitor of domestic pigs, is the most ancient and primitive of even-toed ungulates. Boar are nonruminant, an eater of many things, as I am, who like me developed to tolerate some of the most varied conditions nature throws at him, and his origin is Europe like mine, are these the reasons I have hunted him in all three of the “New World” continents he was introduced into so long ago? Or more likely am I like Herman Melville in his book Moby Dick “Just tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote.”
Images of hunting boar sketched centuries ago are found in Spanish caves. In addition, Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans also left behind images of hunting boar on temple walls, glazed amphorae, and scarabaeus. The emblem worn by the Roman 12th Legion when it marched into Britain was of a boar. Greek, Egyptian, and Hindu mythology has boar beings not unlike the bear-man of the Native Americans. Mythology includes Vishnu becoming a boar to kill the demon Hiranyaksha to free his land from floods. Seth the god of war transformed himself into a boar and killed his twin brother Osiris for sleeping with the goddess Nephthys. Ancaeus, the son of Zeus and helmsman for the Argonauts survived many pearls in the Golden Fleece voyage only to be killed on the day of his return, trying to drive a boar out of his vineyard.
Domestic hogs travel well via ship voyages and were brought from Europe to Australia in the late 1700’s as livestock and enough of them escaped to establish a wild population. They have expanded over time and today the population estimate in Australia is over 20 million with no decrease in sight. Feral hogs are a serious environmental and agricultural pest across Australia, particularly the Northern Territory floodplain wetlands where I hunted them. Plant roots and tubers are a large part of their diet and they literally plow the semi-dry wetlands feeding on the reed tubers. Once rooted up it would take years to grow back to normal density. The damage reported by feral hogs in Texas and Florida is small compared to Australia.
Australian outfitters’ businesses were deeply hurt by COVID-19 and lost nearly two years of international bookings. Once the border was reopened to international visitors, I started contacting outfitters in early 2022 to book a 2023 hunt without success for multiple reasons. Most had full schedules from hunts delayed due to COVID-19 and some had staffing issues and loss of hunting properties. I also contacted outfitters in Turkey that advertised boar hunts and all were non-responsive to my inquiries so I gave up on a 2023 boar hunt to a new continent.
Enter the 2023 SCI Convention in Nashville. Larry Shores a friend I greatly trust had a Facebook post regarding getting together at the convention with Karl Goodhand of Goodhand Outback Experience an outfitter in the Northern Territory of Australia. A quick text message to Larry requesting his help in putting Karl in contact with me worked out and within 48 hours I was on his schedule for a mid-September hunt. I do not know who was toothier, Larry & Karl’s picture at the convention they sent along with the good news or me receiving the news!
Good friends and making connections – a priceless benefit of being an SCI member!
Karl questioned what my expectations were for the hunt and my reply of having a good time and hopefully taking two boars with mountable tusks was met with “heck of a long way to take two boars, in three days you should be able to take five or more” and that ended up being an understatement!
The hunting technique was spot and stalk using a Polaris Ranger to access the hunting areas. The main challenges are staying downwind when stalking and not shooting any in standing water, on the other side of standing water, or close to standing water. All standing water contains crocodiles during the dry season and the only thing predictable about crocodiles is that they are unpredictable.
Goodhand Outback Experience provided a great time and a very successful hunt. Karl and guide Trent Meade put me on many outstanding boars and most importantly kept us safe. Carol Goodhand (Karls’s mother) made sure we were well-fed and comfortable in camp. A first-class operation in all respects!
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