Returning to that Puma White Hunter, I am mystified how anyone could have designed such a knife.
Big and heavy, lovely steel, but a bloody great thick bit on the end, I think for hitting with a rock to cut bone etc, and practically no point on it at all. I got it in a trade it for a fly fishing reel in a moment of stupidity, and regretted it until finally I took it into the county workshop. The big grinder, the little grinder, and a shit-load of sparks later, it more closely resembled a pig-sticker. Actually, it became a favourite weapon, until another bad day happened along.
Toby and I were having a little walk, up the Waipara River bed, thinking maybe we’d find a pig lurking in some swampy river flats. Sure enough, the plan worked well, and it was not long before Toby’s nose was in action, as he stood tall and drank in the wind from upriver. Sinking down without a glance at me, he jumped up into the jungle of gorse and broom under the willow trees, and disappeared. I stood alert on the edge of the riverbank, half expecting a pig or two to leap out into the open trying to escape the dog. Quiet reigned for a few minutes, just the cicadas rasping away, and the water rolling over the rocks. After about 10 minutes, a squeal upstream about 100 yards, and we are in business. I sprinted up the riverbed, spray flying, and ready for action. Nothing broke cover, and as I drew level I could tell it was not big, maybe 60-70 lbs, and only a few yards in from the bank.
Leaning the 30-30 against a rock, I drew the Puma and began crawling on hands and knees through the thorns and vines, knife firmly clutched in my left hand, eyes wide open and ready for action! Its hot, and the sweat is pouring down before long, as the pig keeps slipping free and gaining a few more yards before the dog can anchor it again. Eventually, I’ve got it in sight at about 5 yards and, waiting until its looking away from me, I lunge for a grip on a back leg. Once I’m locked on, its gets easier, and I can wrestle it, catching an opposite side front leg, and flicking it onto its back.
Doing this with a knife in one hand is not so easy, but between me and the dog, we’ve kinda got the situation in hand. Except for the Puma, which proves to be so blunt, I could ride bare-assed to bloody London on it. Push as I may, I can’t push it thought the skin on the pig’s neck. The dog lets go, to get his breathe back, grinning as he does so. I quickly raise the knife, stabbing hard to drive it home. Toby, on instinct, senses the pig is making a break, and pounces on its throat just as the knife arcs down. He’s so damned quick I can’t pull the hit, and he takes the knife in the head, hard. I’m appalled, and Toby whines in agony, the knife buried in his eye socket, jammed into the bone. Bloody hell, what a shocking thing to happen. I wrench the knife free as he staggers, bleeding and whining, and pull him close to comfort him. I’ve taken his eye out, the poor bastard, and the tears stream down my face. I’m gutted, I think maybe this is one of the worst days hunting I’ve ever had in my life. We are even, true, but I certainly had never wanted retribution for the injury he’d inflicted on me the year before. Out comes a field dressing to cover the oozing eye socket, some Elastoplasts to hold it in place. To hell with the pig, I’ve let it go, and we jog off down the riverbed to the truck, dog at heel, head cocked to one side, and emitting the occasional whimper. Back home, and round to the vet, who is shocked at the injury.
After an operation to tidy up the damage, Toby is soon back home to recuperate. Sad to say, he was no good after that, the knife having penetrated his nasal cavity, impairing his scenting abilities. He tried hard, running with his head to one side, clumsy at first but soon mastering the impediment. Few more pigs were added to his tally. Steadily, his judgment diminished, and before long he’d pull over a sheep by mistake, a sin of enormous magnitude, and quite unpardonable. He became untrustworthy, mean-spirited, and disobedient, and thus brought about his own end, an action that was at the time easy, standing as he was over the fresh-killed carcass of a farmer’s ewe and lamb.