In the few boar hunting trips I have made over the last few years one consistent and common unknown has been the range and visibility of the different stands. Varying not only trip by trip but also drive to drive within a day. With your back to a wood and 25m of a 3-metre track your only visible line, ears tuned to the slightest rustle and the rifle barely mounted as a tail disappears into thick scrub; or across a sparse and snow-covered valley with 250m clear visibility looking for that tiniest hint of movement; dogs barking all around you in a thick forest with opportunities between 5m and 125m.
Knowing this I decided to take the Sentinel tripod, manufactured by Spartan Precision Equipment in the UK, on a recent trip to Romania. The forecast was cold and none of us had ever shot in this area so no one knew the lay of the land. Worst case scenario the Sentinel would be somewhere to leave the rifle for some welcome warm pocket relief for my hands!
Day one dawned early and after a short drive we hiked up into the hills, 16 guns trying to stay quiet and probably making more noise in doing so.
I was at the farthest point, a snowy slide down the steep side of a wooded valley. The stand had no opportunities behind me but a huge field of view forwards, from the frozen stream at the bottom and up the opposite side of the valley. The bottom was thick scrub and about 80m away at the closest point ranging out to just under 200m before the cover became too thick. I am feeling somewhat smug that I have the tripod. On the off chance that action came closer than expected, I could whip the rifle up off the tripod to freehand shoot.
Being so far away from the beaters I expected a long wait but actually ended up with the first shot of the trip, a Keiler running on the far side of the valley, zoomed the scope to 8x, took a stab at mentally calculating enough lead and rock steady on the Sentinel squeezed the trigger. Success.
Being able to pan the rifle whilst still steady enough to shoot made a 180m boar a possibility, previous trips would have seen me watch him run by.
This first stand turned out to be a real opportunity thanks to the Sentinel with 4 more boar taken, all a little closer and on the limit for free hand but very comfortable from such a secure mount.
Day 2 involved less walking but another stand where the tripod was going to come into its own, deep snow and sparse scrub with ranges from 50m out to 250m
The waiting game began. First the sound of the dogs then distant rustling, the adrenalin starts to flow, cold fingers miraculously warm up…
Then nothing – the joys of driven boar!
Then a shot rings out behind me, turning around I see a huge sow at full sprint along the edge of the scrub, rifle ripped from the tripod, into the shoulder and bang, another success.
Much beer flowed on the last evening of a truly memorable trip to Romania (I have already booked to go back). And whilst not always needed the Sentinel tripod will be joining me on all future boar trips, you just never can be sure.