For a quarter of a century hunters have been stalking the land of Kelly and Sandra Readman east of North Battleford hoping to bag a massive wild boar.
“It started in 1994,” related Kelly Readman as he paused from preparing his booth at the Parkland Outdoor Show & Expo in Yorkton. “I was a free range guide for years, but we started having a family and I needed to be at home …We had four little boys and my wife said to get home.”
The option to stay home meant creating a new opportunity, and for the Readmans that meant creating a wild boar hunt farm.
Kelly Readman admitted it was not an easy process to get the farm started back in 1994.
“It was very slow and tedious,” he said. “There were a lot of naysayers, a lot of people that thought I was crazy in the head.”
But the Readmans were not deterred, and slowly Wild Boar Adventures was developed as an opportunity for the average hunter to hunt an exotic species right here at home in Canada.
As their website notes, “for many, a trip to Europe to hunt the European Wild Boar would be out of the question. At Wild Boar Adventures you can not only hunt a wild boar, you can hunt with your family, friends, or coworkers and take all the meat home with you when you go.”
The good news in the farm development was that wild boar fall under the provincial Department of Agriculture which did simplify the process somewhat in terms of getting government approvals.
The process on the farm is rather straight forward in terms of management.
“We raise a lot of our boars,” said Readman, with their breeding stock – about 300-head -- raised on part of their land on relatively large tracts of lands away from hunters.
One of the current challenges being faced is finding replacement stock. While wild boar operations were common a number of years ago as the government encouraged agricultural diversification, Readman said because markets weren’t developed first most farms failed.
Today, “there’s very few,” he said. “It’s very difficult for me to find any. It’s not at all like it used to be.”
When needed, Readman said they live trap some of their animals from the breeding area, and release them onto the land where the hunts are allowed.
The hunt area has a variety of animals placed, from the largest boars weighing 400 pounds, to sows and younger stock. Readman explained that since clients ultimately pay per pound for the animal they take, they provide a variety to meet budgets.
As for the biggest trophy boars, those flirting with 400 pounds, Readman said it takes years to raise such an animal.
“They’re probably seven – eight years old. They grow very slow,” he said,
The wild boar is also slow to reproduce. In part, because of Canadian winters, they typically have only one litter a year, said Readman. Where a domestic sow can have a dozen piglets, a wild boar sow has three or four, and predation from others in the herd can cut that number.
The actual hunt area is 150 acres “of very rugged, hilly land,” said Readman.
Since the hunt farm is a private enterprise on private land, hunters do not need government licences to take a boar. It also means there is not a specific season.
“We go all year round, 365 (days),” said Readman adding this year “… we had hunters right through the cold of this winter.”
While people do hunt the wild boar, and more recently domestic sheep breeds Barbados black-belly and Wiltshire horned, Readman said it’s not just about taking an animal that draws people.
“It’s a place for people to get away and just relax,” he said, adding people are encouraged to hunt at their own pace. “It’s kind of a do it yourself style hunt.”
Typically hunts are confined to primitive-style weapons, bows, black powder rifles, crossbows and shot guns using slugs.
The usual client is Canadian, from Nova Scotia to Vancouver, although of late the core customer has come from the three Prairie provinces. With some pride Readman notes that they are now seeing clients who first hunted the farm with their fathers years ago, returning to hunt with their own children.
And, the farm stays busy.
“We’re just about booked for the year,” said Readman. “We’re booking into 2020.”
That said, Readman adds they have a full schedule built on a dedication to providing good hunts.
“It’s 25-years of hard struggles to get to where we are,” he reminded.