Not Bored Chasing the Boars

by Cork Graham

BARKS AND YELPS escaped the brush-covered slope below. The Catahoula leopard and Walker mixes that had been quiet only a few minutes ago were now onto a wild boar.

With only a few words exchanged between us, Steve Sweets, 48, and I started our rush downhill to join his partner. Anticipation and the excitement of the blood-curdling sounds from the dogs and a hog called my heart to race.

Holding my camera in my left hand and pinning the slung .44 magnum lever-action against my right side, I did my best to keep up with Sweet, a man whose physique reminded me of an active-duty U.S. Navy Seal’s. Too many hours behind a computer and not enough running on the track left me unsure as to whether I would be able to keep up.

Much to my joy, adrenaline took over, pumping up my leg muscles and pushing me onto arrive at the scene of combat. And, that is exactly what it reminded me of as I stared down at the utter chaos under the canopy of brush, inside a cloud of dust.

Just as in Central America, my mind went into professional mode and I clicked off shots with my Canon F-1. After a few frames, I yelled over the yelling, barking and squealing. Did Sweet’s partner, Jack Clark, 50, want me to take the 75-pounder?

It was small but I had been conditioned by hunting other areas the last 10 years to never turn down any pig between 50 and 300 pounds. In those years I had not been prepared to hunt Ed Strohn’s Call Mountain Ranch, a place where we had this day run 14 pigs, not one under 175 pounds, most of them being in the 220 to 275-pound range.

One pig we have seen that, like the rest naturally opted to run instead of fighting, had tusks that were visible without binoculars and 300 yards away. That pig's weird behavior, along with the lack of rain has caused me to think that duck hunting has not been the only one to have suffered under the incessant stretch of clear skies.

Dogs need moisture holding scent to the grass and brush in order to have a good trail to follow. Because of the lack of it, the dogs and hard time. Still, we were all very impressed with the amount of hogs driven out of the brush. If they had decided to bay, I could have taken a wild boar that easily would've had three-inch tusks.

All in all, it was an enlightening experience, for early in my hunt career I despised hunters who use dogs to chase wild boar. I had come to this previous judgment in a way so hypocritical to my belief: that no one have a complete right to talk about a subject unless they've experienced it. Until last Friday, I had come to my decision on hog-hunting with dogs only through hearsay and preconceived ideas.

I had not been prepared for the challenge, excitement and reverence Sweet and Clark have for their prey. This is not to say every pig-hunting guide who uses dogs has the same respect, for I have dealt with many unscrupulous guides who will never receive as much as a word in this column, except maybe to say they've been rightly jailed, but it's nice to see honorable hunters no matter what legal style they may use.

Clark could have easily told me to shoot the 75-pounder. Instead, he told me to grab a couple dogs’ collars and pull them to the side, as they held to the others. True to his survival instincts, the young boar disappeared into the brush without as much as I look back.

For those interested in hunting the closest wild animal America has to a pure-bred, mean and nasty Russian boar, the area around Hollister is the place to go. Jack Clark in Paicines can be contacted at (408) 389-4535.

The Times of San Mateo Dec. 8, 1995


Jack Clark holds onto a ham hock, while Steve Sweet holds onto a hound.
Hound has a hold of an earful, while Steve Sweet takes control of a Catahoula.
Jack Clark pulls away a hound.