Passing the Baton

An Old Gun and a Young Hunter

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Shooting|June 2022

My Aboriginal friend Graeme has an adopted son Anton. As Graeme and I hunt periodically for 'bush tucker' being native game for kitchen meat, I've taken on teaching Anton to hunt.

Teaching a young person to hunt for me is not a chore, but rather a privilege to be valued and honoured.

Think back to when you were a child and can you remember an older person investing time and patience to teach you new skills?
Most of us can answer this with a 'yes', but how many of us today can say that we actively carry on the tradition of teaching youth?
I'd suggest probably quite a few less, I've had Aboriginal people come and ask me to teach their children to hunt.

What is this grand tradition of hunting? Is it just going out and shooting wildlife because one can? Or is it something of greater meaning where the game has a value?

So the point I'm coming to is that there is a fundamental difference between shooting and hunting. Hunting starts before one even leaves home, learning to pack the correct equipment for the hunt that's planned, I subscribe to Boy Scouts motto, 'Be prepared.'

Plan and pack a first aid kit, extra water, esky with ice for game meat, sharp knife kit, hunt specific firearms and ammunition, satellite phone & Epirb for emergency, etc. Is the vehicle fueled up, oil & water levels correct, brake & clutch & power steering fluids correct, having extra spare wheel, spare jack, bog treads, etc.

Then the departure is planned to put one into the field at optimum hunting times to ensure the BEST possible terms for success.
Practice 'defensive driving' as this is clearly the most DANGEROUS segment of the hunt, I firmly believe BETTER late than never!
This is NOT melodramatic, on a recent expedition to Northern Territory, on 5 highways I passed over 100 roadside fatality memorials & only 1 shooting memorial!

To give this more context one has to go way fixed back to 1934 in Australia before road fatalities drop below 1,000 per annum, outside of war we've NEVER had 1,000 firearm fatalities in a year period!

We get into the field and start to hunt on the basis we know what is game & what wildlife is NOT! The target species required determines what habitat one hunts.

we know what is game & what wildlife is NOT!

So through this process Anton is learning that successful hunting is very much about planning and being prepared, something very foriegn to many Australian Aborigines.

Anton had expressed a desire to hunt wild pigs, so an expedition was planned to go and target wild pigs along a series of water holes and a major river.

Having obtained permission to hunt this region we ventured out into the field, we checked the water holes in the hot afternoon to no avail.
But this presented another opportunity to teach Anton, showing him pig tracks & wallow beds along the edges of the water holes, this wasn't a zero sum game.

We encountered some native game that was harvested and again the teaching applied, plucking of birds, & dressing out retrieving the hearts, liver & giblets.

I showed Anton how to remove the inner liner from the giblet & after rinsing with water put it into a plastic bag with the hearts & livers, then onto ice in esky.

Of interest the major gamebird bagged was an Emu, with drumsticks the size of a baseball bat, weighing in @ an estimated 75 kilograms. (bagged with T.Wild also using SSG)

Also of interest is most feathers are double plumed, Emu's have a resting pad on breast like a Dromedary, they have dormant wings with a spur on the wing tip!

There is NO breast meat to speak of, as the wings are dormant, the bulk of the meat is in the legs & thighs, running up the backbone into the extended neck.

they have the typical three toed foot whereas an Ostrich has two toes

Lastly they have the typical three toed foot whereas an Ostrich has two toes, it pays to be very wary of Emu legs until completely expired & no nerves. Our last opportunity for the day was to walk a section of the main river & try to locate a pig bedded up in the heat.

As it was quite hot, I elected to drive the Toyota off the station road and across some 600 to 700 metres of plains to the river, this saves about 1.4 k's of walking.

I parked in the shade of a river gum and Graeme elected to stay, I kitted up with 'Thomas Wild' hammered 3" nitro-proof shotgun. (David Lindner's gun)

Anton and I set off eastwards along the southern bank of the river, I had to caution him to be quiet as pigs have big ears & can hear quite well.

We'd only covered about 300 metres when a good sized boar flushed from dense shrubbery about 10 metres in front & was in top gear!
I instinctively swung the 'Wild' along the body & fired the SSG as the bead lined up on the nose, other than swaying slightly the pig gained speed!

This definitely wasn't the plan for him to increase speed, so I swung along the body now out at 25 metres & fired the choked barrel of SSG & he kept going. I quickly reloaded as I ran after the boar only to notice he'd slowed down & now was turning 90 degrees and headed for a Koonkleberry thicket.

The two SSG had done their job and he expired halfway to the Koonkleberry thicket. I KNOW SG 'OO' buckshot would have performed better having shot several hundred pigs with SG.

To say Anton was elated & excited was understatement, he saw the whole action of the pig erupting 10 metres in front, 1st & 2nd shots, with the ultimate demise before it reached cover.

I am confident that this hunt will remain fixed in Anton's mind for the rest of his life, the day we pursued the pig & put him into the bag, well the esky.

We walked the short distance back to the Toyota & now Graeme was excited that we bagged the pig, there would be fresh pork in his fridge tonight.

We drove carefully along the river bank weaving in & out of gums, parking the Toyota closeby the pig to load the meat once butchered.
Firstly we took photo's to record our success, then I started butchering & showing Anton where the cuts are made. We took the left forequarter, both hindquarters, & both backstraps. We left the right forequarter as it was badly bruised from absorbing 2 SSG loads spread over it!

Anton & Graeme helped to load the meat into esky after lifting the iced bottles on top of the Emu, it's VERY important to chill pork down quickly.

We were off the property and onto the highway before dark & headed north to home in Halls Creek. Just before dark I photographed an accident site memorial on the Great Northern Highway where 3 adults died in a head on collision just a few years ago, a timely reminder!

Back in Halls Creek Graeme & Anton helped me to saw up the Emu carcass, I use a carpenter's saw to cut it down the centre into halves with the neck left on one side. Then the drumsticks are cut off at the knee joint, & the sides sawn into 3 pieces, the body is now in 8 usable sized pieces. We did a charitable meat run around town & then dropped Graeme & Anton off at Red Hill Community with their meat.

It was a satisfying day having invested into a boy's life & the lesson for me was to shoot big pigs with SG 'OO' buckshot.

Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on (modified )

Shooting|June 2022

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