will do ^
Every so often you have to make that important phone call early Monday morning.
Me: Erez, let’s go hunting.
Erez(the Israeli about to turn 50 curly haired dude with 3 girls, a great family, and has hunted since a boy in Israel): ahhhhhhhhhhh, no my friend. My girl was sick last night with stomach flu, I get no sleep. (and excuses for a few minutes)
Me: Don’t worry “my friend”: (not in a diminutive sense…but when in Rome…). The wind is good (a very important thing when hunting pigs because their “noses”[sense of smell] is so acute that bad wind will ruin your chances). I’ll pick you up; I drive you sleep. Take a rest – I’ll call you in 2 hours.
Erez: Okay my friend.
(When I make the return call a few hours later, his voice is refreshed and excited.) I think for sure we are “on.” We make plans to go.
Then he texts me: (our Friend) just went on Saturday, he say NOTHING!! NO SIGNS OF PIGS!!! (I feel like he is indirectly making excuses. BUT, this is NOT a chore)
Me: “No problem this is hunting.”(if it were just catching, there wouldn’t be half the joy). This is what hunting is about.
He replies in the affirmative. I pack my bags and pick him up, with chef Ori along with us and make the multiple hours drive out of Los Angeles for a small chance to get some Wild boar.We arrive at the plantation where the animals are not Acorn-eating pigs (Jamón Ibérico) but rather pride themselves into trying the yelp 4.5 star restaurants, the ones that serve – organic everything. Figs (green and black), Pistachios (non roasted nor salted), grapes, and almonds (from when they are soft and white to all the way when they are golden brown & dried from the 110F heat). But these are not pigs on a farm. These are pigs that travel tens of miles every day to feed, and then return to the mountains to rest. Michelin says that their three star restaurants are “exceptional cuisine, worth the journey.” When making such a journey, you want some damn good food.
As we admired the snow on the mountains and reveled at the perfect wind conditions, thinking, this is a done deal(that we were going to 100% catch pigs), we thought, okay the pigs are late for their appointment, when are we going to see them? It’s like, walking into a rated “C” Chinese restaurant. The food should taste good…It’s expected!
Hours went by and the wind was chaffing our faces. the temperature wasn’t getting any warmer, and the hunt was completely uneventful. So quiet, except for packs of coyotes talking to each other. 5 hours go by and no sign of a pig except for 2 tracks by my truck. That was the only faint glimmer of home…Not even a spark elsewhere. But the equation didn’t quite add up. The wind was perfect to attract the pigs down to the plantation. Two Israelis, 1 Chinese guy. What could be intimidating about that for a pig? It it because we’re
terrorists communist? 🙁
Erez looks to me in a moment of defeat and sighs, “Well, no signs [my friend], What you want to do? (suggesting we should leave).”
In my head, I agree, but I think…I cancelled 3 requests to go diving so I could pay full attention and hunt wild Russian Boars. We gotta stay, we gotta duke it out and suffer. Like a weird kid addicted to World of Warcraft, (or any normal person addicted to the snooze button)… I said, 30 more minutes, fully intending to hit the snooze button again. In the moments of futility, we decide to climb some hills and continue our search (as opposed to waiting), and with 3 pairs of eyes we were equipped and I felt much stronger a hunting force than I could have ever been going alone. I adjust the clarity in my binoculars and I can’t believe my eyes. 3 pairs of binoculars we see 500 yards away 5 black spots moving toward us. I haven’t seen pigs at this property let alone kill pigs for 5 months hunting 2x/month x 10 hours/hunt = f’n long time. We edge closer and closer, they spook! (run away, fast, over 35 miles per hour). So many hours of work and a lost opportunity. Better luck in another 100 hours, buddy.
BUT THEN! A proud Russian boar comes trotting down the hill in a moment that makes our hearts jump out beating fiercely, so close we hear the breaths. So powerful we feel the footsteps. We line up our rifles on the beast and as our custom, we count. UNO, DUE, TRE. (Except we use English) and on three, we pull our triggers. But we don’t hear a squeal, and we don’t see an instant death. The pig doesn’t run, but it doesn’t walk either. It trots. We let the pig rest so we don’t push it farther away and after a 400 yard journey it lays down and puff its final breath of sweet mountain air. Each of us takes turn dragging this two at a time for a half mile. When we finally get to the truck I see Wilbur is the most handsome Russian Boar I’ve ever seen. Nice strong shoulders, a perfectly barbered mohawk, and just by looking at it you could tell this was the winner of Fight Club.
I will say with certainty that we put over 200hours (10 hours per hunt x 3 hunters x at least 12 hunts for me personally at this tough property) to bag this boar. As we celebrated the success of the hunt on our minds was properly treating the meat, and so from 4:30-7am we celebrated with wine on the street and butchered the animal(will write about this next post), preserving the pig cheeks, cutting the loins, the filet mignons, the boneless chops, the shoulders, and legs, so that we could make something not only aesthetically pleasing, but taste amazing. And fully respect the animal and its life that it gave.
I felt in the moments – actually even before the moment of capture, that things – that life (and death), was beginning to make sense. That the pursuit of this pig was not just the pursuit of this pig, but a series of instances that outlined and perhaps defined many things for me. Lessons that included: go with your instincts. Be patient. Be still. Be persistent. Surround yourself with friends that know more and are positive influences on your life. Encourage your friends to do more. Avoid laziness. And when things you want don’t come straight to you, go straight to the things. (I know this sounds like my relative Sun Tzu), the whole Be Patient – go after oxymoron, but lols. Even though studying history involves a large part of looking backward, we need this to make our steps forward. And at the end of the day, the judge of success is not only what we captured but what we did to capture. Whether we are successful in our capture or not, it’s not the ends that make the means. It’s how we planted. not just what we harvested. (There I go listening to Hemingway. I need some massive editing the writing was whack city yesterday). And I will plant all day as long as I can breathe the fresh, clean, smogless air, and enjoy the toils of working hard for our food. (Notice the mohawk, the bruised armor/skin, this was a fighter in the picture to come)..
I’ve felt and experienced a lot of failures, and today the means and the ends intersected perfectly, and how sweet the success!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 !!!!!!!!
Wild Boar Salami…coming right up.