If you want to hunt the Big 5 but can’t afford the cost of a leopard or a lion hunt, hunt bushpig. This is exactly the position I found myself in on this safari. The bushpig is a worthy adversary and a challenge, it is a seldom-seen animal that makes its living at night. It is shy and retiring and it is highly suspicious. It may be a more difficult trophy to obtain than a leopard.
Don’t confuse it with a warthog. They might be found in similar habitats, but their habits are different. And while warthogs are common, bushpig are rare.
Trackers and game scouts prepared the blind. It was positioned down of the prevailing wind about 20 yards from the bait. A spotlight was positioned over the bait with a switch and battery inside the blind.
We slid into the blind and did our best to keep still. Besides me and PH Wigardt van der Gryp, we had Sam Pyke, my TV producer and Mika, Wighardt’s 9-year-old daughter. While the minute hand began its slow march around the face of my watch, our eyes grew accustomed to the dark. Jackals wailed in the forest, night birds cackled, large animals moved through the dry woods.
Three hours in, Wighardt lifted his binoculars. After some time, he finally leaned over to me.
“Civet,” he whispered.
Through my 10×50 Alpen glass, a dark form resolved in shadow. It moved in tentative then stopped and sat up. Then it paused at the bait.
“Do I shoot?” I asked.
In the scope I saw everything. The little red dot in the crosshair covered the vitals. I pushed the safety forward. Click. The civet, which looked as big as a small mountain lion, disappeared like a drop of water on a hot skillet.
We were silent then, for an hour more. And I knew what it was like to hunt leopard, the night sounds, the waiting, the moment of truth, which I wish I could take back. I doubt I’ll ever see a bigger civet.