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Walt Wilhelm

The following article was published in the August 1936 issue of
Ye Slyvan Archer

Wild Boars and Bows


Walter Wilhelm, Yermo, California

My brother Ken and myself, having killed all kinds of big and small game with a bow, had been waiting for months to try the same weapons on wild hogs. Our opportunity came , when Mr. Jerry Fairbanks, prominent producer and director of unusual pictures, and incidentally a great airplane pilot, agreed to take us over to Santa Cruz in his plane. Were we pleased?

This being Tuesday, we agreed to leave Friday morning early and spent the next two days getting our tackle ready.

We surely made birch wood and feathers fly. I picked out two dozen of my best broadheads, refeathered some and targeted them until I knew where they would go. Howard Hill, our other hunting partner, also fitted out two dozen. Ken who always has two or three hundred on hand, had little difficulty in getting two dozen that matched.

We were all set and 'rearing to go when the big day arrived. We did not get started as early as we had expected due to a heavy fog, but about noon we climbed into the big cabin plane and were off on about 100 miles of a trip. We climbed to about ten thousand feet altitude and then headed out over the open sea. It was fifty minutes from the time we took off until we landed. Jerry taxied that plane up hill and down and put us and our camp equipment near the beach at a good spring. We then stood and watched him taxi up that hill and hop off again, right off a 200 foot cliff. He was going home, to return for us later.

After waving a farewell to Jerry we made camp, got a big lunch and started to prospect for boar. We took it easy and kept a close watch. About the middle of the afternoon we had found out where the hogs, especially the big boys, were staying. This was up high, just under the rim rocks of the highest peaks. We spent the whole afternoon just looking around and studying the hogs' habits. I had been raised on the Blackfoot Indian reservation and the tracks and signs of these hogs were as an open hook to me. We all came into camp just before dark. Ken killed a beautiful red fox and Howard and myself got three birds each.

We had the usual big meal of hunters that night and a good smoke and plenty of boar talk before we crawled into our sleeping bags. We got up just at daylight the next morning and everybody was jumping around getting eats or sorting out tackle.

I suggested that we climb the long bare ridge line to the top and hunt down. "O.K.", says Ken, opening a can of tomatoes with my best broadhead. Howard, too, thought this was a good idea. We started off at an easy gait up

a bare grassy ridge and headed for some big bluffs about seven miles away. Climbing was hard work on account of the slippery grass, but in just a little less than three hours we were on the summit, and I don't think any of us had made a sound that could have been heard 100 feet away. All good hunters know that silence is golden particulary when your weapon is a bow.

During this long hike we had not seen a hog, but from the little prospecting trip the first afternoon, we knew where we would jump one, and right we were, as you shall see.

We sat down on top and rested a little and figured out just what move we were going to make. The result was that we started down the roughest, rockiest and most cactus infested ridge anyone ever saw. We all got full of thorns and Howard hacked into a big bunch of cactus. Last I saw of him he was still fishing out the spines, and needless to say, I felt so sorry for him that I could have cried.

We crept and felt our way down for about 200 feet and just under a small rim rock was quite a large bunch of scrub oak and cactus. Plenty signs everywhere. We sat in a huddle for a few minutes and figured how to get a shot as we were positive there were hogs in that patch.

We decided to stand together, keep high and shoot together if any thing came out. We all started thumping small stones into the patch. We threw half a dozen when all of a sudden and directly under neath, not more than 40 yards away, we saw the brush move and heard the most savage snort again and again. How it did echo up that canyon! A few more small stones and that hog walked out to the edge of the patch. He had ears like an elephant and his tusks looked as long as a bow. We al1 drew to the head of the arrow and loosed as one.

It was a beautifml sight, those steel tipped shafts flying through the air as if they were tied together, they were that close. Somebody hit him and did he squeal? You would have had to be there to get the effect. Now the hog started to tear up the earth as he went round in a circle. The cactus was flying so fast it looked like ten men were throwing it up in the air. We all jumped down a few paces and held our bows as we slowly advanced towards the boar. The old boy threshed around a few seconds and came out into the open and we all gave it to him again. While we were nocking for the third round he saw us. Did he move down the canyon away from us?

Yes, he did. Like Hades. He started right after us and we started shooting for keeps. About fifteen yards from us he rolled over dead. Examining him we found three arrows in him and the holes where four more had passed through him.

We had literally shot that hog to ribbons. His lower jaw was completely gone, one front leg broken and intestines sticking out in three places. We checked up on the arrows. We had shot thirteen times and I had found the mark for one. Eight arrows were broken beyond repair. We estimated his weight at about 240 pounds and his tusks were seven inches long and perfect. One of Howard's arrows had gone through him and struck an oak tree. Ken's last arrow, evidently the one that had finished him, had completely shattered the spine. The arrow was not even dulled.

It was a great fight and pretty fair shooting, considering that we were standing in cactus up to our ears. We killed many more hogs and had two more good fights, especially with an o1d sow with pigs. But these are other stories and some of the other boys may write them.

For the benefit of the archers I will describe the tackle used on this hunt. All of us had yew bows. Our broadheads were made from saw steel and were five inches long, everything entirely home made. I was shooting the lightest bow with a pull of 84 pounds. Ken had his old faith ful of 103 pounds and Howard was shooting his 108 pound buffalo bow.

I could write pages describing the beautiful island and the way Jerry drove down from 9000 feet through a hole in the fog. As he landed that plane to pick us up he taxied it around like most people would a truck.

It was a great hunt, any way you look at it. Now all I have to do is explain to George Brommers just why he didn't get any pork. Oh, well, I am used to doghouses.