Article courtesy of South Pacific Bowhunter Magazine. Please click on the South Pacific Bowhunter Magazine link to view the website.
Author: Nick Joyce
Well Casey and myself had been doing a fair bit of talking through out the year about heading to the Northern Territory to chase Buffalo and Boars. I had gained access to some Aboriginal land through a good friend of mine. It ended up turning out perfectly as I had just been knocked out of my football finals, and he had already booked the flights for his and Susan his partner’s flights to Darwin for a holiday. Casey turned it into a holiday with Susan with a bit of hunting. While Casey was sight seeing with Sues I would head out fishing and hunting with a couple old mates I had up in Darwin.
We eventually got there and it was time to put on the packs and head out for a 2 day 1 night backpack hunt. After parking the Ute a couple kilometres from the area we were going to hunt we approached the floodplains right on first light.
As we worked our way through the last line of trees before the edge of the floodplain we could see a mob of 10 pigs that had a few good boars in it feeding out to our left, As this was Macka’s (Casey) only opportunity to hunt while up in the NT he was up first. Casey followed the mob through the water as they fed away from our position. I sat back and watched as Casey waded through waste deep channels trying to close the gap on a decent boar. After waiting for a sow to move on so he could get into a good position for a shot, he ranged the pig, put his 20yard pin just behind the shoulder as the boar quartered away feeding, and sent the arrow on its way. The arrow hit the sweet spot with the boar belly sliding to halt in the mud only 20meters from where he was hit. The other pigs didn’t take any notice what so ever and kept feeding, so Casey knocked another arrow, ranged another boar at 24yards and sent the next arrow on its way. THWOP! Once again it hit the vitals and instantly there was blood gushing from both sides of the pig and out the nostrils and the pig was down within seconds. After the second pig hit the deck I was shocked as the other pigs still took no notice what so ever and just kept on scoffing their faces with lily roots. By now I was regretting the decision to wait back and watch from a distance! So Casey ranged his next target at 28yards and sent the 215grain widow-maker on its way, the arrow smashed through the point of the shoulder and into the heart, dropping the pig instantly and he expired within a few seconds!
Well, what a start! After a few photos and a couple of laughs we decided to keep moving, we eventually came to a waste deep, 10meter wide channel. This channel happened to be the main canal for water to enter/exit the flood plain. Meaning it was the main entry and exit for the crocs! Well Casey insured me that if we crossed this channel we would be in hunter’s paradise, I wasn’t so convinced so I made him lead the way. Once we had both made it to the other side we noticed a rather unpleasant sight, a massive croc slide that went straight down into the channel that we had just crossed.
Knowing that we had to cross again to get home was a little daunting to say the least. Well we walked along the bank with the flood plain on our left and river on our right. As we walked we heard dozens of crocs smash their way through the mangroves out into deeper water, majority of them being under 2 meters in length but we did see a couple big saltys that were 3 meters plus. We came across two buffalo bulls but they had spotted us as well and weren’t too keen to hang around, but it was a very promising start.
We walked for about 40 minutes before the island we were on came to an end. We could see that it wasn’t shallow water, and we had about 4 kilometres of flood plain before the next tree. It was a pretty easy decision to stay on dry land. Although knowing we had to cross that canal again wasn’t too comforting either. The whole way back we were debating who would cross first, and joking around with ideas of what we would do if one of us was getting taken by a croc. Well we got back to where we needed to cross; Casey had the smart idea of looking for movement, bubbles or ripples. We spotted ripples about 20meters to our right hand side, decided that it was now or never and that we would cross together, I’d look left and Casey look right. We were about half way through when I stepped in a foot hole made from the previous time we had crossed an fell over, with my bow in one hand and 20killogram pack on back I splashed around and eventually got my balance back, by this stage Casey had already made it to the shallow water laughing. Once on my feet I started to walk on water and got the shallows in no time at all.
It was starting to heat up so we had a quick swim in buffalo wallow while we checked to GPS for a plan B. There was a small billabong further inland that we thought would be worth a look. It was about 6km away (as the crow fly’s) so we decided to set up camp and have some lunch before we got too far from the main river system and flood plains. After doing so we started to make our way towards the lone billabong, there was a spring-fed creek running from the small billabong that we were heading for, so we walked in the crystal clear, flowing stream for about 3 hours, stopping for a quick dip to cool down every hour.
We could eventually start to see sparkles through the trees where the sun was reflecting off the billabong, we got out of the creek and onto dry land and started to move a lot slower and quietly. We made it to the edge of the tree line and both just stared smiling. A couple dozen pigs with the smallest still being over 60kgs. As well as 20 buffalo, turned out they were all cows and small bulls. So Casey and I thought we would concentrate on the pigs as there were a couple great looking boars out there. As we made our way towards the pigs a couple buffalo caught wind of us and took off taking the rest of the buffalo with them. There was a big old boar wallowing in the mud a hundred meters for the rest of the pigs so I decided to give him a crack. I pushed back into the trees and made my way around to where I thought he was. If I judged it correctly there was only a couple reeds in-between where the boar was laying and myself. I crawled onto a small game trail that lead through the noisy dry reeds to the waters edges. I followed the trail on my hands and knees and could now see the big boy rolling in the mud trying to cool himself down. I got in position behind the last clump of reeds before the waters edge. I put an arrow on the string and ranged him, “21yds” appeared on my Bushnell range finder, took a few deep breaths and right on cue the monster stood up broadside looking at the other pigs a hundred meters away. I drew back the 82ibs insanity and got comfortable.
Then all of a sudden he turned towards me and started to slowly make his way down the trail that I was kneeling on. The Lamellar camouflage clothing had blended in perfect with the long dry grass, He got to about 12yards before noticing something was different to normal. He made a few grunts before moving off the trail to my left. I made a quick decision that it was now or never, settled my top pin just behind the shoulder and touched the trigger on my Scott release aid. The 840gr arrow had no issue with penetration, passing right through the hog taking out both lungs. The boar instantly felt crook, made its way to the edge of the reeds and hid in the long grass before expiring. Pretty proud of myself, I pulled the carcase out of the reeds to check out his tusks, “Your Kidding” I said, one of his tusks had snapped off. We set him up for a couple photos, I was still very happy with the pig because of his body size and weight.
The other pigs hadn’t taken any notice of what was going on only a hundred meters from us, and were still crunching on muscles. Casey was up; so back into the tree line we went making our way around towards the pigs. We got in position and set up the camera. The pigs were entering and exiting the water frequently so we eventually found out what animals were sows and boars. There was a monstrous sow on the bank, the biggest bodied animal in the mob that eventually came walking past at 20yards. So Casey thought he’d give it a crack, drew back, settled the top pin right in the middle of the magic triangle and sent the arrow on its way to do the rest of the work, after being hit she bolted around Casey and expired next to me an the video camera. It made some good footage for our DVD.
After a few quick photos and exchanging the video camera for my bow I soon started to move in on the rest of the pigs that remained out feeding in the billabong, as I was moving in the biggest boar started to move away from the mob and feed towards me. I got in position behind a smash bush 30 yards from the waters edge. The boar was soon parallel to me feeding in the shallows. I ranged him at 33yards, Drew back and when he presented himself with a broadside shot I sent the arrow straight through his lungs. Not knowing what just happened he jogged up the bank towards me and tried to bury himself in the long grass, making a few loud squeals as he forced his way in deeper. The squeals alerted the rest of the mob and they came over to investigate. Sniffing the air and looking around to see what the fuss was about I ranged the closet pig at 12 yards. Drew back and slammed a solid bodied sow, she only walked 5 meters before falling over dead. The others were getting pretty suspicious by now and started to move into the thinker grass before moving on. I gave Casey the thumbs up and he came walking over with the video camera and we inspected the pigs together. The boar had ‘Personal best’ written all over it and I was on top of the world. After setting the animals up for a couple photos it was time to make our way back towards camp as the sun was setting fast and we had a decent hike ahead of us.
Once getting back to the spring fed creek we filled up our water bladders and added water purification tablets, by this stage I was already pretty badly dehydrated. The humid weather was taking its toll as I was sweating like a pig. By this stage it was getting quite dark so we decided to go bush bashing, we had camp marked on the Garmin GPS and started walking in a straight line towards it. Casey was generous and took the lead clearing all the spider webs although the black berry bushes seemed to move back into position and cut my legs just as well as Casey’s!
We came out of the think scrub and onto the floodplain right on dark and there was a heard of forty cows and a couple scrub bulls walking into the thick stuff towards us, I was disappointed it was too dark for a shot as I haven’t taken a scrub bull yet and there was a really nice bull amongst them.
We watched them walk past at 60yards before putting on the head lamps and walking the rest of the way back to camp, I was well and truly spent by now, the 30km walk, and a humid 35 degree day lead to me being pretty dehydrated, as soon as I got back to camp I filled my water bladder up with my Gatorade powder, collapsed on my mattress and started sipping on the fluid. By now the Mozzies were thicker than thick. Casey got his jet boil out and cooked some noodles in the comfort of his Mozzie/Midge proof fly screen tent while I laid under a $3.50 eBay purchase that was hung from a tree branch. I wasn’t smart enough to get it out the packaging when it arrived in the post, but I know now that the holes are big enough for mozzies to get through. I was quick to get the can of Bushmans out and lather myself in Deet. After hydrating a bit I eventually felt like some food. Casey was fast asleep by now while I continued to spray my “Mozzie Dome” and myself.
Morning Came but we didn’t make it out of bed as early as we would’ve liked, we ended up blaming it on the dark cloud of Mozzies that hovered above mine and Casey’s tent’s. We got up and put on our Lamellar Camo and hit the main floodplain where Casey had shot his three boars the day before. We didn’t see any more pigs unfortunately but thought we would go check out Casey’s three boars again. About 100meters from the dead carcases something didn’t look right, as we got closer we noticed that there was now only two boars. It took us a few seconds whilst standing around the pigs to realise what had actually happened, a Croc had come out of the channel that Casey had been kneeling down in for 20 minutes for the sow to move on, come out into shallower ankle deep water picked up a 80kg boar and walked back 50meters into the deeper channel with the boar in its mouth. This blew wind up the both of us, we had a mutual agreement that our feet would stay dry for the remainder of the trip! While walking back to camp we spotted a wild dog lying down under a tree and a couple brumby’s another 200 hundred meters behind the dog. Casey offered the shot to me so we started planning a stalk on the canine, about a hundred meters from the dog two pups poked their heads up from the other side of the bitches body, the brumby’s had spotted us and were trotting over for a closer look, this made the pups panic and start running towards us, we later discovered their den was in a fallen tree stump that we were hiding behind, we carefully picked up the pups for a photo or two.
We made it back to camp and packed up our gear reluctantly, about half way back to the car Casey spotted three buffalo cows feeding on the edge of the billabong, so we moved back into the tree line and got in position, the cows were about 100 meters from us when Casey made a calf distress call, all three cows quickly lifted their heads and came running over looking for the troubled calf, they came into 30meters to our right before pulling up and having a detailed look, this gave Casey enough time to slip an arrow just behind the front shoulder, the cow ran 30 meters before pulling up and wondering what bit her, she then quickly blacked out and it was all over. It was great to get a buffalo on the deck, it would’ve been nice to both get a bull buffalo but it doesn’t always go to plan and I’ll definitely be back up hunting the Top End next year chasing these massive animals. After a couple photos and a bit of a rest we got to our feet and walked the last couple of kilometres back to the Ute.
Overall it was a fantastic couple of days in the bush admiring Gods creation and getting away from civilization with a mate. It didn’t go exactly how we planned but when does a hunting trip? Casey and myself both enjoyed the change of unfamiliar country and a couple good animals on the deck was an added bonus.