Hunting The Wild Boar Of East Sussex

After years living in the city, I now reside in the middle of nowhere. Country living is different, people kill their food, and I recently spent a monday evening watching my mate expertly kill and gut a pair of wild boar...
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After years living in the city, I now reside in the middle of nowhere. Country living is different, people kill their food, and I recently spent a monday evening watching my mate expertly kill and gut a pair of wild boar...

Wild_boar

Having moved to the middle of nowhere from the centre of everything (AKA Primrose Hill) four years ago I never really knew what living the country might have in store for my family and me. I worried it might be a big fat mistake. That the reality would be very different to the dream. That we could get extremely bored and racked with regret.

How many walks would it take to drive us to distraction? Would we meet anyone we liked? Would anyone like us? What do they all actually "do" out there? It was a journey into the unknown. Would we return?

Well. Let me tell any city-dweller considering emigrating to pastures new, don’t hang about matey. Jump ship. Enjoy the ride. Moving out has been so much better than staying in.

Here's an example of what I now do on a Monday...

I got the call I'd been waiting for. My mate Al was on the blower asking if I was free from six for an hour or so. My heart started to beat faster even as we spoke.

"Fucking right I'm free" was my immediate response. I couldn't wait.

At 5.55pm I met Al at the gate to a field not far from my house. There he was in his Isuzu double cab. Double being the operative word. This maroon monster of a truck doubles as a mobile office, bed, cafe, confectioners, lathe, sawmill, gun room, kitchen, dining room and workbench. It was so full of Al's shit you wondered if he'd find the steering wheel.

Now Al is a proper country bloke through and through. Hunting, shooting, fishing, riding, drinking, felling, logging, cutting, trapping, drinking, hunting, drinking, shooting, fishing, drinking. I'm sure you get my drift. He always wears those clothes genuine country people wear. Not the poncey pretenders. Bona-fide country folk. Moleskin trousers. Old tweed. A Barbour that is so dirty and knackered it's way beyond "vintage" and a check cotton shirt with a nice tie. All neat and tidy, topped off with a flat cap.

Al is an expert shot and an expert cast. He is an expert at reading weather conditions and an expert at judging where to go and what to use when you get there. He is a natural born hunter. His target could be a deer or a salmon.

Al is an expert shot and an expert cast. He is an expert at reading weather conditions and an expert at judging where to go and what to use when you get there. He is a natural born hunter. His target could be a deer or a salmon. It makes no odds. Given the opportunity Al will make his move and kill. God bless him.

The reason we were meeting was to shoot some wild boar.

There are more wild boar where I live (in East Sussex) than anywhere else in England. Thousands of the buggers and they're all at it like rabbits. As a result there'll be thousands more before you can say "Pint of Harvey's". I squeezed into the double cab, having spotted a space that wasn't occupied by a chainsaw or a roll of barbed wire and we drove across the field to the edge of the woods. We parked and I walked behind as Al carried a motherfucker of a something bore rifle and I carried a torch. He told me I was gonna be his "light-man".

As we made our way along a track the evening was drawing in. It was getting darker by the minute. Up another track, down a further track. Across deep undergrowth. After a few moments me and Al found ourselves at the base of a dark green, metal ladder permanently attached the side of a tall tree. You’ll be forgiven for asking yourself what a ladder was doing in the middle of a forest. Don’t worry. The same thought ran through my mind.

Here's the clever bit. Boar are bloody good at sniffing. Go after them and the last thing you can wear is Brut or Old Spice. They’ll smell fear or fags a mile off. However if you position yourself high up in a tree any aroma you might emit will waft its way high over the heads of your quarry. These country folk are a canny bunch.

Twenty feet up the tree was a "seat”. This is what they call it out here. A metal platform with a metal bench built into it. Not comfortable. Just practical. Al and I climbed up the ladder to the seat. I had his torch. He had his gun. We sat down and settled in behind a wall of camouflage netting.

Al told me not to talk. Not to move. Just to sit. And wait. There's a lot of waiting in the country.

Al lifted his shooter and looked through the site at an open area. A clearing about 80 yards from our hideout. This is where Al reckoned the Wild Boar might roam as night drew in

Al lifted his shooter and looked through the site at an open area. A clearing about 80 yards from our hideout. This is where Al reckoned the Wild Boar might roam as night drew in. By now it was about 6.10pm. In the last 15 minutes we'd walked and climbed and sat. Now we were ready for action. Quite often people sit and wait and wait and wait. Then go home empty handed. There’s no guarantees. It could all be a waste of everyone's time. Failing is all part of the fun.

Tonight we were in luck. There we were sitting absolutely and totally still, up the side of tree, not moving, talking or thinking too loudly when it appeared. We’d been waiting for just a few minutes. This is unheard of.

The boar was out and about looking for food just as Al thought it might be. She’d emerged from an overgrown thicket of bracken and bush all innocent and unaware Al had her in his sights. She looked around as she smelt her way to the food that Al had spread out the night before. This Boar had taken the bait. One might think all Al had to do was pull the trigger. But it doesn't work like that. You don't just kill. You kill in the right way. Al's task was to get his bullet in a tiny space between the unsuspecting Boar's eye and mouth. Nowhere else.

As the Boar trundled about Al squeezed the trigger and an almighty CRACK rang out. The Boar fell straight to the ground. My heart was beating. Al's adrenalin was racing.

The Boar was no more.

"Un-fucking-believable" I screamed at Al as I jumped up and down like a 10 year old at a Chelsea game.

It was only 6.15.

I stood up and started taking pictures of Al up the tree looking all focused and mean. The flash was going off. What a bloody commotion.

Then something very strange happened and we both went very quiet. And still.

A second boar wandered from the woods into the clearing and stood there, motionless, staring at her dead friend. Al put his eye to the sight again and took aim. He was as cool as a very cool cucumber. No rush. No panic. No mistake.

Then CRACK. Another bullet flew from the barrel and hit the Boar where it mattered. It dropped on the spot.

A second boar wandered from the woods into the clearing and stood there, motionless, staring at her dead friend. Al put his eye to the sight again and took aim. He was as cool as a very cool cucumber. No rush. No panic. No mistake.

Al and I felt very much alive. We climbed down from the seat and made our way to the targets. Two dead boar were waiting for us. I could feel they were warm as we pulled them toward the track where we'd load them into Al's truck. They felt heavy as we dragged them. There was no noise. No yelp, squeal or scream. One minute they were out looking for a spot of dinner. The next they were dead meat. Just like that.

We swung them into the pick-up and drove up the hill. By now it was dark.

Al found a place to gut the Boar. With the precision of a surgeon performing liposuction Al made an incision with a small, razor sharp, French knife. He wanted to get under the Boar's skin but didn't want cut into the shit-filled intestine. Al opened the Boar up in a matter of moments. Its guts fell out and you could see its heart and liver. The intestine was curled up like a long French sausage.

"Johnny wants the liver to make some pate,” Al announced. Our mate Johnny is a brilliant Chef. He’ll love the liver.

Al plunged his hands into the open stomach of the boar and pulled out what was there. His palms and fingers were covered in the congealed blood of his prey. The cuffs of his check shirt were stained dark red.

I was watching the guts and sinews and muscle and organs as they fell to the mud. We turned the Boar onto her tummy and opened his legs so he sat upright to allow the blood to drain. Al repeated the entire process with the second Boar. Once drained of blood we dragged them both back to the truck and for the second time swung them in.

There they'll stay over night.

Next stop; the butchers.

Stop after that will be the local pub, where they'll be served up as sausages with mash potato and gravy.

Killing is a vital part of living, in the country.

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