Issue 58 April 2024

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Pigging with the Explora

More outback capers with a Westley Richards

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Shooting|May 2022

I planned as part of my 52 English shotgun shoot of 2019 to target wild pig with my Westley Richards 'Explora' & try to retrieve a bullet!

Now, this is easier said or planned than actually coming to fruition in the field, given the penetration capacity of the 735 gn bullets. To be truthful I don't even know if Westley Richards load bullets for these WR Explora's of a hundred plus years ago?

So, in lieu of having a commercial supply available, I commissioned my gunsmith in Darwin (in around 2000) to load me a hundred bullets.
The 735 gn toughened lead projectile was wrapped on the lands with plumbers' teflon tape prior to inserting into the case. Then Vic Pedersen (gunsmith) would roll crimp the bullet in secure against the depetalled wad inside. These bullets were lethal & reliable, so they ticked all the box's for using on a wide variety of game.

Anyway, as 2019 progressed, we went through our dry season/winter in May through to September and conditions had dried up nicely.
At this time of year with water holes scarce and pigs need to water and wallow, it was time to try to execute this idea.

In early October I rang the Pastoral cattle property and got permission to hunt for pigs along the main river. Knowing the water holes locations along the river helps greatly in deciding where to park the Toyota troop carrier and begin the hunt.

With the landowners consent, I set the alarm early for Sunday morning to get breakfast over, packed & travel to the river before dawn. I'm a great believer in the adage that says, 'the early bird gets the worm.'

We had a trouble free run out of Halls Creek to the Pastoral property and then the river, arriving just at dawn. I parked the Toyota Troopy about 1.5 kilometres from the waterhole I was planning on targeting first and quickly kitted up. I deliberately parked this far away to give us the BEST chance of success, I needed to be able to shoot an end on shot, preferably undisturbed.

The morning was cool and the breeze in our faces gave a quick stalk into the waterhole a good chance. About 150 metres from the waterhole I noticed movement ahead and instantly stopped. Coming directly towards me was a small herd of about a dozen pigs.
There were sows, quite a few medium sized piglets and a good boar pig, which unfortunately was near the rear of the strung out herd (sounder).

I slowly knelt down and propped my elbows onto my left knee with the WR Explora and waited. They literally were walking right up to me, but I knew it was unwise to let them get TOO close as pigs have poor eyesight but ACUTE sense of smell.

At about 18 metres I fired for the lead sow's head upon which she collapsed without a sound, and PANDEMONIUM broke loose with pigs going all directions. My focus was to try and bag the boar pig with the left barrel, and fortunately he stopped out on the riversand about 40 metres away. I lined him up and aimed on his back hairline and fired, and just like the overhold miss on the Water Buffalo some 10 months before I missed again!!!

There was no third shot to be taken, the pigs in this area are hunted regularly and disappeared in seconds. I walked up and inspected the very dead sow and discovered I had shot her through the left ear into the neck and no OBVIOUS exit wound. I set the sow up for photographs and then commenced butchering her up, all the usable meat from this healthy animal retrieved to be shared out in the Aboriginal community.

The 735 gn bullet went through the shoulder blade, took out about 4 ribs going through the diaphragm, and the intestines finally lodging on the left rear ham.(hindquarter) There was the desired projectile still intact but really mushroomed after having gone through so much bone.
I later measured it and the front had mushroomed from 17mm up to 34mm doubling the diameter and creating massive soft tissue damage.
I quickly boned out the sow laying the pork cuts onto a leaf bed to cool prior to bagging and packing into backpack.

Of note one should carry a diamond steel to sharpen the boning knife as pig hide is very tough on knives and keeping a keen edge enables good butchering. Over 90% of the meat was retrieved and then backpacked out in reverse to the Troopy. I took another photo at the back of the Troopy and then layered the meat into the esky with intermittent layers of iced water bottles. This chills the pork down very quickly and maintains the quality of meat.

This was a SUCCESSFUL hunt in the context of targeting wild pig and retrieving a WR Explora bullet. BUT there was an important lesson to be learned, NEVER EVER under 100 metres aim over the animal because that's where my bullet will go!

Stephen Barnes

Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on

Shooting|May 2022

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