Could this be the birthplace of the Giant Gemsbok?
June 20, 2016
A kudu like a statue
July 5, 2016

The warthog of Ekuja

Farm Ekuja – 140 km north-east of Windhoek –  is an absolute paradise for bow hunting. With numerous species in high numbers, you never know what could be lurking in the bushes. The vegetation range is also great – from black-thorn acacia thickets to open plains. The areas in between where camphor bush is abundant are also ideal for stalking. Indeed, camphor bush is perfect, because it is evergreen and provides cover all year round.  Text Christiaan Bean

O n a previous hunt we decided to build a tree stand at a natural waterhole, as we had been hunting for Burchell’s zebra and had seen encouraging signs that they frequented this specific waterhole. Since there was not much cover close to the waterhole, our only option was to make use of a large camel-thorn tree right next to the water. We used an old door that was sturdy enough to hold two people sitting or standing. The tree didn’t have much cover, so we had to be very quiet and move slowly to avoid alerting the animals.

Eventually we took a splendid old zebra stallion, but that is another story altogether. It was while waiting for the zebra that I saw the magnificent warthog for the first time. We had been waiting for a few hours, and it was very quiet except for the occasional warthog sow and youngsters coming for a drink and to wallow in the water. When facing south, something to the right drew my attention. I turned my head slowly. The wind was from the north-east and the warthogs coming from the south-west had been picking up our scent all afternoon. So I didn’t expect to see anything, let alone something as spectacular as this. We weren’t after warthogs anyway. But what we saw made Brad change his mind. As he was getting ready, the big boar and his female picked up our scent and decided they weren’t that thirsty after all, and trotted off.

Now, about three weeks later, we were in the same tree, sitting quietly on the old door. Warthog was again not on our list. Brian Maher, my client from Australia, had already taken a very nice warthog in the first days of the hunt. I remember telling Brian about the monster warthog I’d seen on the previous hunt before we climbed up onto the tree stand. I told him that we were unlikely to get a shot at him, as he was an old hand and knew when to steer clear. He always came in upwind, to ensure being alerted to any danger lurking at the water. They don’t get that old because they’re stupid, I told Brian.

This time we were up in the tree just after lunch. At four o’clock I radioed my tracker to come pick us up, as we hadn’t seen a single animal come in to drink. I had barely put down the radio when we heard the familiar warthog grunt. And there he was, coming in from the south-west, just as he had the previous time when we were waiting on our makeshift tree stand. This time though, he was trailing behind two sows, and was obviously more interested in the sows than concerned about the wind. Fortunately there was a slight easterly breeze, which meant they would possibly not pick up our scent. I assured Brian that this was the trophy of a lifetime. He simply couldn’t let the opportunity pass.

It didn’t take him long to decide. In seconds he was at full draw. We had to wait a few anxious moments before he could shoot, because the two sows were standing on either side of the bull. The warthog gave a few steps forwards into the water, giving Brian a clear shot. By this time he was shaking with adrenaline, but he managed to deliver a perfect heart shot with his Mathews Monster bow set at 70 pounds. On impact, the boar jumped forward, turned to his right, and took off. He barely made it 20 yards before collapsing.

Brian was ecstatic, and I even more so. But it was only when we walked up to this fine fellow that his impressive size became apparent. It was a very old warthog, with two inches broken off the right tusk, probably from fighting or using too much force when digging up a root. Either way, it did nothing to diminish his magnificence in any way. With 11 cm girth and 36 cm length, giving it a total of 47 on the SCI scoring method, this was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime warthog. And that with a bow! Little did we know that it would make the top ten of the biggest warthogs ever taken with a bow in Namibia, and that it would become number 5 on the list. It would also earn Brian NAPHA’s prestigious Game Fields Medal!

This magnificent warthog – 11 cm girth and 36 cm length – was taken by Brian Maher on Ekuja. The farm belonging to Drikus and Danita Swanepoel.

“The true trophy hunter is a self-disciplined perfectionist seeking a single animal, the ancient patriarch well past his prime that is often an outcast from his own kind… If successful; he will enshrine the trophy in a place of honour. This is a nobler and more fitting end than dying on some lost and lonely ledge where the scavengers will pick his bones, and his magnificent horns will weather away and be lost forever.”
Elgin Gates

This article was first published in the HUNTiNAMIBIA 2014 issue.