Andrew Bishop—Paraguay #2: A Honey of a Hunt

It was still wet and foggy when we set out around 10 am into the Mbaracayu reserve. We were on a hunting trip, but almost immediately we had to stop because a broken down tractor was blocking a narrow spot in the road between steep banks of dirt. Not so easily deterred, the Ache decided to cut another lane into the earth with their machetes! In less than half an hour we had a wide enough gap to squeeze past the tractor.

Broken down tractor

Field leader Kim Hill (right) looks on while the men are cutting a new road around the broken down tractor. 

Pushing the car past the tractor

A little help to push the Land Cruiser past the broken down tractor.

Land Cruiser

Squeezing past the tractor.

In the process of digging, we found a machete buried half a meter below the soil (who new the Ache were archaeologists?). We drove several kilometers into the reserve, stopping briefly to look at fresh jaguar tracks (which the Ache spotted from inside a moving vehicle) and spotting an eyra along the way (a small black weasel-looking creature).


Archaeological “find” in the forest—a machete

When we got to our destination, we set off hiking through to forest at a quick pace. Before long we followed the tracks of a herd of white lipped peccaries. As we got close to the herd, they detected our presence and started smacking their tusks together to make the clicking sound that they are known for. The Ache quietly slipped through the forest, encircling the herd. They fired several shots with their bows before the herd started to run. One peccary came running past us, bleeding from its hind quarters where Tadeo shot it, while the rest took off in another direction. Tadeo trailed the wounded peccary less than 50 meters before we found it hiding in the brush and another man came to finish it off.

It was a large pregnant female, weighing about 45 kilos (nearly 100 lbs.) They gutted her in the field, taking out most of the internal organs except the lungs, and heart. Building a fire, we cooked and ate the liver on the spot, while the older man trimmed the fat from the intestines, and then packed the stomach cavity full of leaves.

Andrew with the peccary

Andrew with the peccary

We waited a while for the other hunters to return, and when they did not, we started hiking back to the truck. Tadeo carried the peccary while his son in law cleared a trail with his machete. We made it about half way back before we heard the other hunters calling us. We crossed through a grassy plain of ankle deep water and then stashed the peccary in a tree. Leaving our gear we ran to find the others.

We found them sitting next to a honey tree, with a Capuchin and a smaller peccary (14.5 kilos or 32 lbs) that they had killed. They built a fire under the tree and took turns chopping the tree until it fell. Keeping low and using fire to avoid the stinging bees, they managed to extract about 5 kilos of honey from the tree, some of which we ate on the spot, and the rest of which we brought back with us. I was really impressed with the hunting skill of the Ache. They move quickly and quietly through very dense forest, they are amazing trackers, and in just a morning they were about to kill two peccaries, a capuchin, and find more than a gallon of honey!

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