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Wiltz: Chasing the thrill of hunting boars

During much of my life as a hunter, I held a not so enthusiastic view toward hunting "introduced" or non-indigenous game in their new, adopted environment. With my narrow viewpoint, I felt that if God didn't put them there, they didn't belong there.

My perception gradually changed. Weren't Chinese ringneck pheasants a good fit in South Dakota? Didn't the German brown trout make a perfect fit in our Montana mountain rivers? And so 2004 found Carol and Don Kaberna, Betsy, and I in Argentina's La Pampa Province where we hunted red stags from Europe and black bucks from India. They were thriving. They had become part of a new eco-system.

The year 2011 found me back in Argentina. This time it was Patagonia's Algar Ranch with hunting partner Doug Koupal. The Algar ranch people claim to have the purest strain of wild Russian boars in the world, and on the final day of our hunt, Doug hunted them from horseback with dogs while Nahuel and I observed the action from distant ridges. When it eventually appeared that Doug and his guide, Tito, were onto one of the formidable pigs, we moved in for a closer look. Soon we were in a swampy mire of tall, cattail-like reeds.

When Doug and Tito dismounted, their horses took off immediately. They wanted no part of that

menacing tusker. Nahuel and Tito must have had a system. With no apparent communication between them, Nahuel backed our Toyota pickup into the midst of the dog-pig melee and Doug climbed into the open back. In the meantime, I piled out of the Toyota for a closer look and some pictures. Nahuel screamed at me! I didn't understand his Spanish, but I knew beyond a doubt that I was to get my butt back into the safety of the cab right now! It was later explained to me that if that boar had set his sights on me, he'd have me on the ground before I knew what happened.

When Doug finally managed a shot clear of the dogs, he killed one of the largest boars ever taken at Algar. How big can a Russian boar get? About 770 pounds and a height of 49 inches at the shoulder.

They can also run 25 mph and jump to a height of 60 inches. Now put an evil temperament and lower canines five inches in length on this critter, and we have a formidable quarry. I don't know exactly how big Doug's sus scrofa was, but I'll say 500-600 pounds and big enough to ride.

I was uptown this morning when Mike's sister-in-law asked, "What's next, Roger?" The Mike I'm

referring to is Mike Hall, a frequent hunting partner.

"Mike and I are heading to Argentina next May," I answered.

"What are you guys going to hunt?" she questioned.

"Other than ducks and perdiz (partridge) north of Buenos Aries, we will both hunt Russian boar as well as red stag in Patagonia." She probably thought—"A quarter way around the world to hunt pigs?"

As I've already alluded, these just aren't any pigs.

There was a time when a young Maasai of East Africa had to kill a lion with a spear in order to prove his manhood. Things were much the same in Greek mythology. The young Greeks had to kill a boar with a spear or knife to prove their manhood. Remember when Homer's Odysseus returned from the war in disguise in order to get a look at how things were going in his absence? Eurycleia, a maiden, recognized him by scars that had been inflicted by a wild boar during his youth.

I first learned that hogs can be dangerous during my first year of teaching. A young child had fallen into hog pen. The mother saved her child, but the hogs devoured her before she got out. And these were domestic animals!

Remember Australian Colleen McCullough's Thorn Birds? I mostly remember that the bishop was messing around, but young Stueie was also killed by a fearsome wild boar.

In the 4/25/17 issue of USA Today, there's a story of three Islamic State militants who were killed by wild boars. These same ISIS militants had just executed 25 prisoners. Served them right.

Mike and I may be in for some "hog wild" excitement next May, but we'll back each other up.

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The severe drought conditions in the western half of our state have me worried. The ranchers are my first concern. Toa lesser degree, pheasant and grouse chicks need the moisture that often comes from dew. Will our deer face another EHD crisis?

After failing to draw last year, I recently drew a West River "any deer" tag. Needless to say I'm

excited! The deadline for the East River draw is Sept. 1. It's not that far away.

My book is doing well. Copies are available in Mitchell at the museum on the DWU campus as well as the Carnegie Resource Center downtown. Copies are also available at Parkston Drug in Parkston, Hoffman Drug in Platte and the Tripp Barber Shop.

See you next week.

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