By Pete Ryan
After years of chasing other wild pigs, warthog came as an unexpected surprise. The quick heads-up in alarm, trotting off with tail in the air and mane bristling, finally the rapidfire bolt for an ant bear hole. A wonderful animal.
Virtually any piece of African bush that has a steady supply of water and grass will hold some warthog, and in some places they are in plague proportions. In the more populated areas many farmers put out a little cracked corn in the afternoons to watch their ‘pets’ come in. Out in the bush it’s not uncommon to find the signs made by nesting females gathering grass.
I have never had any trouble with boars – easily distinguished by two sets of warts on their face – but have been told by several trackers that sows with young suckers can be aggressive. For the record the heavy upper tusks are not the real threat, but the lower set is razor sharp. Comical they may be, but like all pigs warthog are immensely strong for their size. Their power to shove forward and upwards in a sudden burst has to be seen to be believed.
It’s good practice to check out both upper tusks before closing a stalk, as many a good boar is wonderful on one side but partially or fully broken on the other. Boars in very sandy country may be heavily worn. A light rifle is all that’s needed but placement needs to be spot on. If a wounded hog gets down an ant bear hole things will get very, very interesting for all concerned.
I’ve tried their pork many times and it doesn’t have the same appeal as eland or other African game, but that’s just a matter of personal taste. In trophies too my preferences may differ – the shoulder mount is popular, but let me tell you a full skull, with those mighty tusks flaring out, is a conversation stopper par excellence.
So here’s to the humble vlakvark. Cheap and cheerful he may be, but no trip to Africa would be complete without that most homely and endearing of hogs.
Pete Ryan’s writing has appeared in quality hunting books and magazines around the world. His first book ‘Hunting and Fly Fishing the Southern Hemisphere’ has just been launched to critical acclaim – available in print edition,Kindle and other formats. Signed copies available. More at www.faraway.co or the official Facebook page.