Recently, the people of a small village in Dominica mourned the passing of an old man who was renowned in his younger days for being one of the best hunters on that Caribbean island. He was also the only person in his village to ever have been interviewed for a live radio broadcast, the subject of which was his incredible ordeal of survival.
He was one of the strongest men in the village, and by far the best hunter of wild boars. He would often venture into the most isolated and remote areas of the forest, armed with just a machete and some rope and accompanied only by his pack of expertly-trained hunting dogs. He was known to have single-handedly carried pigs weighing over two hundred pounds through miles of jungle slung over his powerful shoulders.
Early one morning as he was preparing to leave on a hunt he came upon another hunter who warned him of the presence of an especially large and dangerous boar that had been seen high up in one of the valleys of Morne aux Diables. It had already killed one dog and had left clear marks on several trees bearing testament to its height and great size. “Don’t go after this one alone,” he was cautioned, “especially without a gun.”
Taking heed of the warning, he decided to stay away from the higher elevations where the pig had been known to frequent. As had always been his custom, however, he went alone, save for his five dogs, and, as always, without a firearm. Entering the valley at the base of the looming Morne aux Diables, which in English means Devil’s Mountain, he stayed low, following the course of a river that meandered through the forest.
He had been walking over two hours before his dogs caught the scent of a wild boar. He untied the dogs and watched as they bounded up the steep bluff on the side of the river and into the forest of giant tropical trees. Within minutes he heard an ungodly howling and the anguished yelping of his dogs. He climbed up the bluff to learn the cause of the awful commotion. What he saw made his blood freeze.
Scattered about were the bloody, lifeless bodies of four of his prized animals. The fifth dog, still young and not as well trained as the others, was running toward him, being chased by the biggest boar that he had ever seen in his life. Suddenly, the enraged boar, maddened with blood lust, turned his attention away from the fleeing dog, looked directly into the hunter’s eyes, and as if recognizing that this was the real enemy, lowered his mighty neck and charged. Realizing that it was hopeless to flee and impossible to climb any of the massive trees nearby, the man drew his machete from its sheath and watched as the giant bore down upon him. The hunter lashed out with a powerful blow of his machete, but the pig was too fast. Somehow, without seriously harming the boar, the machete was deflected and sent flying off into the bush. Moments later the boar was upon the defenseless man, slicing at him with its razor-sharp tusks.
The hunter defended himself however he could, punching, grabbing, kicking and praying, but as strong as he was, he was no match at all for the great beast. Just when all hope seemed lost the pig, blind with rage, bolted to the edge of the bluff. Using every ounce of his uncommon strength, the hunter shoved the boar over the brink and man and beast tumbled down the precipice and into the river.
The tide had turned. Pigs are not good swimmers and their short front legs, ideal for rooting about in the ground, are a liability when trying to stay afloat in the water. Now the man regained the advantage in this life and death struggle. The hunter pushed the boar under the water, embracing his enemy in a death grip as it desperately struggled to raise its head above the surface.
The battle ended in less than five minutes and the man emerged victorious. He was alive, but barely so. Three of the fingers on his right hand had been cut off and one foot was mangled so severely that two toes eventually had to be amputated. He had been gored in the face, leaving a jagged scar that was to stay with him for the rest of his life and was bleeding from tusk wounds in his chest, leg and back. Using water from the river to cleanse his wounds and his shredded clothing to slow the loss of blood, he bandaged himself as best he could and began the long walk back to civilization.
He was discovered semi-conscious and delirious just outside his village and taken to the hospital in Roseau, on the other end of the island. On the way he told the story of his ordeal to his rescuers, including the exact location of the drowned boar.
On the third day of his recovery, three hunters from his village visited him in his hospital room. They had brought him something delicious to eat – something to revitalize him and to help heal his wounds – fresh pig meat from the giant boar that he had killed.
True story – courtesy of Robert Louis.