Monday, April 02, 2018

Fortean A to Z: The Black Boar

Among the many unusual things I've seen in my life that might fall into the Fortean category is the story of the black boar. 

It was 1991, and I was stationed at Rhein Main Airbase, in Frankfurt, Germany, serving as a member of the USAF Security Police. On the day in question, I was posted at a gate on the west side of the base--possibly the most remote, and unused corner of the base.

As I sat in the gateshack, listening to Armed Forces radio one evening, I looked up and saw a pair of boars come out of the woods outside the perimeter fence. They were like so many other boars I’d seen in the region: about the size of a medium-sized dog, maybe two feet tall at the shoulders, if that. They were brown in color, and trotted long at a brisk pace, crossing the road outside my locked gate, headed north, toward the airport.

A few moments later, after the small boars had vanished into the thin patch of woods northwest of my location, I saw an entirely different boar come out of the woods.

The black boar was three or four times the size of any other boar I’d seen in and around Frankfort. He was jet black, with a single tuft of white hair, several inches long, extending from the highest point of his back—a point I estimated to be about three or even three-and-a-half-feet long.

My jaw dropped at the sight of the black boar—I hadn’t ever seen one like that before (not that I’d seen many boars in my life). This boar didn’t hurry across the road like the smaller ones a few moments before. Instead, he paced slowly outside the fence, walking alongside the closed car gate, as if examining it to see if he could come on base.

I tensed, more than a little nervous, and put my hand on my holstered service pistol, wondering if my 9mm M9 would even be able to stop such an enormous beast. My apprehension was no doubt due to one of my friends in the unit who had tried to impress upon me how dangerous boars could be, and who had recounted many a boar-hunting story from his native Texas.

The black boar and I stared at each other as it went by. The sun was behind the trees now, and there was just enough light to make out details on the beast. It truly was jet-black, completely unlike the mottled shades of brown and gray of the other boars I’d seen in the area. I edged my way toward my gateshack. 

A few more moments passed and the black boar continued to follow the fenceline, entering the thin patch of trees that grew outside of our perimeter fence, stretching north of the access road from the airport. In the dim light he stood out boldly from the gray trees and brush, a great, black shadow, sauntering along, unafraid of anything.

I let out a sigh of relief, thinking to myself how glad I was that the gate had been closed.
Almost as if on cue, the boar veered to the right, now about a hundred feet away—north-northwest of my position—and passed through the perimeter fenceline.

I imagine my jaw dropped, as the fencing around the base was supposed to be secure enough to keep even the rabbits and other small game out—the Air Force is very serious about keeping animals off the runways where they could damage aircraft. Yet this enormous boar walked through the fenceline as if it wasn’t there. It took several more steps, then vanished behind a particularly thick patch of brush on base, north of my gateshack. 

I retreated to the gateshack, closing the door after me. Try as I might, I could not see the boar at all. I wondered if it had been a trick of the light--and remembered how it hadn't appeared to walk through the fence until after I'd thought how glad I was there was a fence between us. 

Still, a hole in the fence was pretty serious. I called for a patrol to come relieve me for a bathroom break. When the patrol arrived, I recounted my story and asked to go check the fence out. My request was denied, and after I relieved myself in the nearby woods, the patrol left the area.

For many years, I have wondered about this black boar, so unlike any other boar I saw in Germany, and about how it silently passed through a tall security fence and vanished so completely from sight. In the years since this incident, I’ve read about black dog sightings near cemeteries, and I have to wonder if what I saw really was a boar, or perhaps something else?

The beast had looked real enough--I could make out the black hair covering its hide as it went by. And I've since learned that boars can get much, much larger.

After experiencing this unusual animal first hand--something I was completely unfamiliar with--I can see how many times people see something and imagine it as something else. 

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