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The Pig That Got Away By Jonah Whitley

The hunting party.

It was a cold damp morning in Matawai. We were staying in a little hunting lodge in the bush. It was frosty outside, so I found it hard to get motivated to leave the warm, cosy fire. I slipped on my bulky gumboots and my toasty sweatshirt. My brother Zeke, my cousins Keira and Rylan, my Uncle James and I were going out for a hunt. We were all super excited and hoped we were going to get a big, wild pig.

We left the comfortable cabin and started walking as silently as ninjas. A bit down the muddy trail, we got to a skinny track that led down to the gently flowing river … so we headed down and crossed the cold stream leading into the river. We went across the stream and carried on up the steep trail. There was a lot of thick, sticky mud, but we had no hesitation in carrying on.

We saw a lot of pig footprints and pig rooting in the mud. The pig dogs, Boots and Precious, started sniffing around excitedly. The pigs had definitely been here! Deep, fresh rooting was evident, and this was a sure sign that we were in for a wild ride. We were almost certain we were going to get a ferocious pig. We carried on along the trail; the bush gained density the further we went. Our senses filled with the freshness of the morning air and clean, pure bush.

Suddenly, the trail came to an end, and we got to a little scree drop-off. Luckily, there were punga trees to hold on to as small parts of worry were creeping into my mind. We climbed down carefully and got to another little stream, but what we didn’t think about was how we were going to climb up the other steep side. I was first up the other side. I grabbed hold of tree roots to drag myself up, and the others stumbled up after me.

We eventually all got up the bank and carried on with our adventure. It was very damp, and there were lots of punga trees, ferns and many native trees. But all this was no match for us. We got to some sloppy mud, and I chose to jump over it, but Rylan walked straight into it and it basically ate him – it was so deep, it was up to his knees! So, I grabbed his hand and pulled him out.

We got to a little waterfall and couldn’t find a way around. We searched around for a bit before finding a way around it. The path got very skinny and didn’t even really look like a path any more. We followed one behind the other as quietly as we could. There was so much mud, and it made loud slogging noises, so it was hard to be quiet.

We carried on a bit further down the trail before the dogs went silent and stopped moving around. Boots searched around all the trees, sniffing everything. We thought we were in for a real treat! But … nothing! There was nothing! Absolutely nothing! We were starting to lose hope about catching a wild pig, so decided to head for home. We got back to the slippery bank, and we all managed to get up except poor old Boots! His age must have been getting the better of him but will never stop his eagerness to sniff out that mighty boar. He couldn’t get up by himself, so Rylan and I raced back down the bank to help him up.

We carried on towards home, devastated we hadn’t got a pig. We noticed that Boots wasn’t with us, so we looked at his dog tracker and saw he was quite far behind. We wondered what he was doing way back there. We thought he might have found a new pig trail, but when we went to look, nothing again!

Back through the little stream and down the steep track … I was relieved when the hunting lodge was finally in sight after about ten kilometres of walking through muddy, damp conditions.

We stumbled inside feeling gutted that we didn’t get a pig. But Mum and Aunty Trace had made some nice warm hot chocolates and cut big slices of carrot cake for us. While we sat around drinking our warm beverages, we chatted about how much fun we’d really had. We laughed about how Rylan got stuck in deep sticky mud, how we had to help poor old Boots up the bank, getting whipped in the face by punga tree leaves and Uncle James needing to do number twos in the bush! We all decided it didn’t matter that much that we didn’t get a pig because we’d all had an extremely fun time together in the bush! Now it was time for a nap.

Are you 14 yrs or under and got a great hunting or fishing story you’d love to have published? Send the story and a photo to us at mail@rodandrifle.co.nz and we may just upload it here for everyone to read.

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