This story starts in September. A few days before the start of the shooting season, George asks us over to film some driven boar shooting… Not in Germany, but Sussex.
The reason? Unprecedented boar damage to his cover crops. It’s put him in an impossible situation.
George loves to see boar about and thinks they are a wonderful animal, but he being a conservationist also understands that they have to be controlled. No one wants massive damage done everywhere, nor see the last boar eradicated. With only two beaters, it’s going to be hard going, but George is desperate to move them on. He positions himself near a damaged fence line with a semi auto filled with solid slugs. This is one load he isn’t prepared to put through his competition Perazzi. The guys work through the maize crop but the only thing that shows itself is a fox who doesn’t realise how lucky it is. The beating line, such as it is, pushes through another couple on the estate, but they’re boar free.
The alternative strategy is even less appealing to George. Lamping them. Tonight the rifle being used is a Tikka T3, a .308 calibre. Sussex police have a minimum requirement of .270 to shoot wild boar and you have to have it on your licence to be able to go after them. This is one of the reasons George has been called in to do this, because he has permission to shoot the ground and boar are on his licence. Therefore all legal requirements are met for them to apprehend the crop culprits. George has a .308 and .243 with him, keeping his options open and with good reason. Foxes are also on the menu. Cover crops aren’t the only thing that need protecting, George’s birds are just as important.
Bang! Fox down, a well executed shot from George.
This fox was little lamp shy. George thinks it has been shot at before, running about ten yeards then stopping to look over its shoulder, giving George the opportunity to strike. At 250 yards, it is a nice shot with a safe background into the bank. Nice start. 200 yards further on in the super smooth electric Polaris, he bags another just yards from the pens. This one’s a big lad. One of the biggest George has ever seen.
“It is a real big dog fox, thick set as well, lot of muscle. That will have been a real hunter killer. It was a good one to get” comments George.
On the other side of the estate we get our first sight of pig. They cross along the fence line and disappear into the wood. George considers a shot, but lets them go. He isn’t happy taking a shot at this range at night. The last thing he wants is an injured boar with no means of tracking it.
That was the last chance George had before the game season started.
It’s four and a half months later and we are on boar patrol again. Even though there are not huge amounts, they are creating so much damage for George at the moment, something has to be done. Killing one or two is the best approach. This should encourage them to move back into the woods, where they can root up anemone roots and bulbs. In a normal year it wouldn’t be a problem because they would be on the acorns, hard on the acorns in the hard wood, but there are no acorns at all this year, no chestnuts. So consequently they are out after everything they can get their hands on.
The damage to the ground and the feeders is clear to see and George is confident we’ll spot one tonight. However, just like last time, the fox is the first target and George is keen to see it drop. The reason he is so enthusiastic is that on such a windy night the pheasants are blown out of there roosts. Once they are out, there is no re-roosting for the night. This makes easy pickings for the foxes. Sure enough, a pheasant is spotted in the beam of the lamp.
We drive through the maize (the boars’ acorn substitute this winter), but there’s no sign. However, the foxes are not being so shy. Very lamp averse animals tonight. George won’t miss an opportunity to take a fox, otherwise he wouldn’t be doing his job.
George drops one after another. The hum of the Polaris keeping them sitting pretty. There is even a pair running together. George gets the first. The second runs but a drive through some other fields accounts for her too.
There is frustration for all. George needs to scare these animals back into the woods so they don’t interrupt the gathering-up work at the end of the season. So we will be back for our elusive Sussex boar in the next few days.