FIGHTING TUSKS – The Sickle Moon Hog

Hidden deep in the mountain recesses the outlier wild boar had gained his territory with bloodshed. He had left the herd at the age of three, which was too late. The tiny tusks had begun to show already when an old male appeared from nowhere attracted by the smell of pheromones. With the setting down of the cold December weather, the mother-sow had again come into season. Without bothering to perform the usual wooing ritual, the wild boar attacked the sow in a most brutal manner. The young male hog tried to stand in his way deceived by the old hog’s small size. With an immediate attack, the experienced nine-year-old warrior tore with his snout the thigh of the inexperienced young pig, without putting on aggressive airs. Then he drove it away in the direction of the thicket. At first, the young pig didn’t feel any pain, just sort of a slight tingle. The more the wound cooled, the more unbearable the pain became. The sore started swelling with the setting down of darkness. On the next day the animal was unable to move its rump. Deserted, left on its own it had huddled up under a juniper bush, shuddering all over. An old Jeep vehicle pulled up near the spot where it was lying. Some men came out of the car, opened the hood and started doing something. When they left, there was a big pool of used engine oil on the ground. Its smell was tempting the wounded animal to heal its pain in the plash. When it made sure the Jeep wouldn’t come back the pig made its way to the puddle with a great effort. It sniffed at it again and flopped down. Its tormented body relaxed and the pig fell asleep. When it woke a bit later, the pain had abated. The pig could move easier now. It dug out some beechnuts, which had fallen down during the autumn, to satisfy its hunger a bit. Then lay down inside the oil pool again. In a few days the deep wound got crusted over and healed. The oil pool had almost dried away. The young hog had a bad memory and didn’t dare to return to the herd where his mother, brothers and sisters were. The bristling old warrior was waiting there. The wild pig moved its den to some unapproachable rocks for fear of encountering the old wild boar. Food was not abundant there but it was peace that mattered.

One day, the sound of a moving car came to his alert ears. The vehicles, which were three in number, pulled up. Then a dozen of men jumped out and started discussing something quietly. The forest engulfed them within a minute. Half an hour had elapsed when a shot resounded. Some shouts echoed. They were followed by new shots. Confusion settled down. The animals in the wood were frightened by the human noise and started running way.

Somewhere among the trees, for the first time since it had been driven away from the herd, the young boar was watching their dark silhouettes. It could hear clearly the breaking of twigs under their hooves. When they passed by it, the wind carried their smell. He felt like following the herd and joining it once more. The barking of the approaching dogs was scaring the pig so it remained where it was, somewhat aside of the battue, at the steep rocks. There were shots again but they sounded a bit different. Then there was squealing. One of its brothers had been hit. There were more shots and the sound of bullets splashing inside the flesh. The squealing of a wild hog, probably hit in the spine and unable to move, echoed from the distance. It was awful. The horror of destruction went on for ages. Then the turmoil and the hysterical roar subsided abruptly just the way they’d started. The crackle of a twig prompted the approach of an animal. The young pig could discern among the trees the horrible beast which had driven it out of the herd. It was about to run way when it noticed the figure was shaking. Deep in his chest, the old boar had got a death wound. His blood was bleeding out slowly but steadily. Staggering, he leaned his frail, painfully shrinking body against a tree. The barking of a dog was heard again. The experienced blood hunters were triumphant. The track was clear. A young hunter approached, guided by a little beagle enthusiastically following the trail. When seeing the boar he stopped short frightened and raised his double-barreled gun. He didn’t have a shooting corridor but, anyway, nervously emptied both barrels in the hind quarters of the dying animal. With a last effort, the boar rose and collapsed in the thick thorn-bushes. The dog started barking at the spot but didn’t dare go inside. His young and, as it came known later inexperienced master, forced it to enter the impenetrable thicket. The dog obeyed reluctantly and obviously scared. As soon as the thorns hid it from sight, a dull thump was heard followed by a squeal out. A second later, the beagle came out of the bushes. It had been torn apart by the boar’s tusks. Some segments of its guts were trailing behind. It was just then that the owner of the dog became aware of his own nervousness and stupidity. He lifted his wounded hunting mate and carried it away in the direction of the cars. Hidden behind a bush high up in the rocks, the young pig was watching and listening to all that. It climbed up quickly and getting over the ridge of the mountain ran away. Its leg, which had completely recovered by now, was doing perfectly well. Only a big sickle-shaped sheared scar reminded of the horrible wound inflicted by the boar. That scar was going to keep the pig company from now on till the end of time. The human-beings nick-named it The Sickle Moon Hog.

It had been years since that incident in the young boar’s life. Over the years, it became a big and powerful wild boar. It avoided the herds and turned into a solitary and gloomy hermit. The boar was aware of its own might and knew how dangerous for the enemy his fighting tusks were. On a few occasions it would meet human beings. The Sickle Moon Hog realized how mean those creatures could be. It used to disappear quickly, its body impressive with the moon-sickle scar and long white tusks.

Deep snow had covered the ground. The animals would rarely move for fear they would waste their energy or leave tracks which might attract predators. There were no pastures and the herbivores fed on the bark of trees only or an occasional hip here or there. Wild hogs were no better because the year had been poor of beechnut. The snow had been dug up in a number of places but animals rarely found any food.

With its snout deeply dug into the snow-drift, The Sickle Moon Hog failed to hear the approach of the wolves. The pack of four predators had already closed its deadly circle. It was just a question of time and tactics to knock down any animal they’d like to. They needed at least seven kilos of flesh per day in order to survive. That’s the way nature had created them and they’d turned into perfect hunters. Usually, they used to proceed in the same way with big animals. One of them, Alpha the strongest, would face the victim. Two of the wolves, the guarding ones, would stay behind ready to bite at the back ligaments of the legs. A fourth one would attack the neck from one side its role being to distract. If the attack had been successful, it would sink its teeth into the victim’s throat. If it failed, Alpha would rush and strangle the victim in a deadly grip.

Up till now that kind of tactics had proved successful if measured in food units. This time the life and death game had started again sticking to the familiar scenario. The boar raised its head having sensed the danger too late. Gnarling Alpha was standing ghost-like in front of it. The two supporting wolves rushed forward but the deep snow hampered them from tearing the ligaments and they bit at the buttocks instead. The Sickle Moon Hog didn’t make a move. The distracting wolf aimed at the throat. Almost simultaneously Alpha attacked too. An abrupt push of the snout followed. The fighting tusks flashed like steel daggers. The distracting wolf’s eye met the white blade. Without hesitating the boar dealt a blow from the right side. Alpha’s jaw crunched. For the first and the last time the experienced wolf figured out that it had underestimated its enemy. It was the Sickle Moon Hog’s turn to attack. Dazzled by the pain Alpha couldn’t react. The hit of the snout upon its ribs found it unprepared. The hog had an instinctive feeling that the wolf was one of its most dangerous enemies so it was determined to finish with it once and for ever. It tossed the wolf high up in the air. A wound gaped open in Alpha’s chest. In the process of landing it received a second blow across the throat which killed it on the spot. It was then that the hog realized the two wolves were making desperate attempts to stop it from behind. It tried to reach them but they were holding tight, their teeth dug into its flesh. The hog rolled over and sat on its rump. Greedy enough, one of the wolves tried to reach its ear. The strong pain paralyzed the animal for a second but then it fiercely tossed up the wolf using its tusks. The wolf’s guts started dragging on the white snow and squealing it ended struggling. Left without support, the second wolf jumped aside roaring menacingly. The boar staged a false attack and changed its position as soon as the wolf had retreated. The bottom of the powerful beast was leaning now against a hollow in the rock and anyone daring to approach would come face to face with its tusks.

Three hours later the wolf was still lying in wait for the boar. The Sickle Moon Hog had been slightly wounded only, two of the wolves had been dead the third animal was in the throes of death. Assessing the situation as favorable for itself, the black heap stood up from the ground and leaping slowly ploughed through the deep snow towards the only ambushing wolf. The only chance for the stupefied beast was to step aside and let the dashing menace pass by. The Sickle Moon Hog continued its way without a stop while the wolf started tearing at the corpse of its leader some hours later. It had to make up for the lost energy.

It was the ninth year of the big hog’s life. Up to that moment, it had been carefully avoiding the encounter with human beings. As soon as he heard the suspicious metal sounds and scents, so strange of the deep forest, he would quickly move out of the area. The shots and hysterical noises of the battue would be left behind. His sensitive nostrils would sniff the smell of blood. But that would be the blood of other not so wary animals.

It was yet another poor of beechnuts year. The big animal found it hard to secure itself enough energy supply for the winter. Not far, on an open clearing, every two or three days the stupid human beings used to throw away dozens of kilos of shelled corn. The wild hog herds could hardly wait for the men to get away then would come greedily upon the food. Late at night, in full darkness, the cautious wild hog would go round the clearing. But it would rarely find a few grains left behind after the herds. To think only how delicious and nutritious they were! It learned how to arrive first at the rack and drive away the rest of the pretenders before even they had come out of the wood. After the fall of night, usually past midnight, it would come out as a complete master of shadows and would eat as much as it wished. Then it would leave satisfied engulfed by the darkness.

The manager of the hunting farm used to watch the region personally. He had noticed the tracks of the enormous animal on a number of occasions but had never seen it itself. He was wrong to believe that the tracks had been left by a smaller hog. One day, there arrived a passionate trophy hunter and his guide. The manager took them both to the freshly supplied rack. It was clear even for the amateur that the place had been frequented by wild pigs for there were lots of tracks. They supplied the rack with some hundred kilos of corn and hid in the hiding stand. The professional hunter-guide knew that they would have to wait if they wanted to shoot a real trophy.

The Sickle Moon Hog arrived, as usual, while it was still light and stayed in the thicket. Its life had been without a fixed regimen. Unpredictable and ascetic, it had made a narrow escape on a number of occasions. And what was the use of all that when it could live a much happier life. There was food ready for it. It felt secure and invulnerable. The hog had waged numerous wars in its lifetime and had come out victorious with the exception of its first fight. It was for the first time it had taken the freedom to go out in the light. It made a tour following the edge of the clearing, about 150 meters from the stand, and hid inside the wood. The hunter who was watching the perimeter through the closed window whispered excitedly: “It’s a bear! It’s a bear!” The professional hunter needed just a glance to realize that it was not a bear but a huge boar; so big he had never seen before. For a few hours the hunters had been trying to look through their binoculars in the dark. For a second only, they had caught glimpse of The Sickle Moon Hog which was after a smaller wild pig but then it had disappeared again. Meanwhile, other pigs kept coming to the rack, stealing from the master’s food and then running away head over heels. The hunters had been lying in wait for a sixth hour already. They hardly believed the hog would return and were on the verge of leaving.

The light fog and the lack of moon made visibility almost impossible. The professional hunter was on duty by the window. He was reluctant to use the night vision device because his sight would weaken after that and, anyway, he didn’t consider it ethical.
The furry bristle of The Moon Hog appeared looking like a night ghost. Trying to keep his excitement, the leader whispered to the dozing men accompanying him:

“If anybody is about to shoot at that hog I think this is the right time.”

After a brief but fortunately noiseless fuss, the shooter took position. The guide opened the window of the waiting stand. The silhouette was no further than 40-45 m but was hard to discern. The telescopic sight, which was the most proper one with a 56 mm front lens, lighted scale and an eight-fold fixed distance controller, focused its huge eye on the board. The light pressing of the trigger released the cock and it ignited the capsule and the 4.5 gram gun-powder load. Six thousand joules of directed kinetic energy embarked on their way to The Moon Hog.
The hunters in the stand couldn’t wait to witness how the beast would collapse when struck by the 19.4 gram, .375 H&H Magnum bullet. However, they were dissatisfied to see it dart away. The hunter, who knew the power of his mighty weapon, was the most disillusioned of all. He was certain he had given the projectile the right direction. Something more, the hog had disappeared even before the hunter had been able to reload.

They took a break to have a quick smoke and to give the animal the chance to lie down, in case it had been wounded. The first one to go down was the professional hunter who had a small but powerful flashlight attached to his rifle. He expected the hog to attack him if it were wounded. In that case, he would be able to fire just once. They reached the spot where the animal might have got the bullet. There was not a single drop of blood. They combed the area in a radius of 50 m, scrutinizing it inch by inch but to no avail. After an approximate hour of search they decided to go on with the activity the next morning. Overexcited by that mystery, the hunters could hardly wait for the dawn to break. It was still dark when they set out for the far-off region. The new search revealed the track and the direction of the retreat. This time they discovered a broad bloody trail starting some 50-60 m away. It was leading the trackers towards the gulch. Three kilometers of following the blood through shrubs, thorns and dense pine undergrowth took them to the yet warm torso of the huge animal. The wood master had been already galloping through the infinite battle fields. The fighting tusks which had been saving its life so far had become the reason for its tragic end. They are adorning now the office of the hunter underneath which is a golden medal as a proof of their value.