We hiked for about an hour through thick bushes and trees and then arrived at a beautiful clearing of newly grown grass and scattered red rocks. Towering trees bordered the field, and I had a strong desire to frolic in the meadow. But then one of the men noticed some warthog tracks, and I snapped back into hunting mode. All of a sudden, everyone was very serious about the hunt, and we followed the tracks back into the thick bush. The man with the gun hiked up ahead of us so we didn’t scare any animals away, and we moved as briskly and quietly as we could through prickly bushes, trees, and tall grass.
A shot was fired up ahead, and the leader signaled for us to come, so we all darted through the bush. We ran down into a ravine and up a hill and finally caught up with the lead hunter. He had wounded a warthog, but it had run away. We all started scanning for tracks or blood and found our way back on the warthog’s tracks. The leader got a headstart once again, caught up with the warthog, and fired another shot. We all sprinted towards the action, and at that point, the warthog was still walking around but clearly injured. It went down into a ravine area, and we followed. The Senegalese guys finished it off by throwing heavy rocks, which made me feel really sad for the poor warthog.
Our next obstacle was transporting our kill back to the village, because at this point we had been hiking for at least an hour and a half into the bush. The guys cut the hog in half (I’ll spare you the graphic details) and left the guts and head in the woods. One guy carried the bottom half with the legs around his head like a piggy back ride. The other half took two men to carry, and it was a struggle to get it up the hill. We called another villager to meet us with a bike on a road that was halfway from us to the village. He unfortunately did not bring any straps to attach the hog to the bike, so it was a comedic journey back to the village as it kept falling off.
Throughout this whole adventure, I went back and forth on how I really felt about the idea of hunting. In the States, I would never go hunting for sport, but here we really were hunting out of necessity. We can’t eat meat in our village unless someone kills an animal. There’s no grocery store to buy it. I finally came to the conclusion that as sad as it was to see this warthog killed and gutted, it fed a lot of people and enabled them to get some protein into their diets. So I have no intention of going hunting when I go back to Seattle, but for now, I’ll go on more hunts if I’m invited.
After an exhausting hunting trip, we were rewarded with a delicious warthog dinner. I don’t think I’ve ever valued eating meat as much as I do living in this village. When you are living on a diet of plain white rice and then go on a journey into the bush to hunt down a warthog, you really appreciate that bowl of meat!