“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” – Mel Brooks
The crew of “Savage Wild” got a real comic kick while star Manny Puig nearly experienced tragedy when he was knocked on his rear by a charging wild boar.
Wait. That was funny?
“It was to us,” show producer Robin Berg said. “Manny was like, ‘What the heck hit me?’ Afterwards it was (funny to him.) When he got knocked down, it wasn’t.”
They had to go to their footage to figure out what exactly sent Puig to the ground. The hunting party is rather protective of their star, but his bend to target wild boar with a spear has put them in dicey situations.
“We’ve taken a decidedly different twist with ‘Savage Wild’ this season,” Berg said. “In the past five seasons, Manny has actually hunted wild boar with a spear. It seems to be pretty popular with the fans, so what we decided to do is really pull out all the stops.”
Out of the 10 shows this season, 9 focus on Puig hunting wild boar, and this year he’s upgraded from a spear to a trident, a frog gig on steroids. The team treks through the Florida wilds with a bay dog that will corner a pig and let the hunters close in for the kill.
“Honestly, there’s a lot of things about hunting wild boar that should be known,” Berg said. “They’re highly destructive feral animals. They eat any native species. They wipe out native snakes, amphibians and birds that are ground nesting. There are pictures of them walking off with newborn fawns.
“They uproot native habitat. They are so invasive, so pervasive and so damaging -- just thick in all the Florida woods -- and they’ve become a nuisance. Anybody hunting them is doing a great service.”
Most southern states spend millions each year trying to combat the quick-breeding invasive hogs, and the federal government recently signed up to help New Mexico eliminate its burgeoning population.
Berg said there many methods with which to hunt the animals; a rifle, a bow and how Puig does it.
“With a spear, you have to get dangerously close,” he said. “You literally have to get a couple feet from it. And the way we are doing it invites a direct charge.
“It’s pretty nerve-wracking, especially when you know it’s going to happen. He’s coming at you with two razor sharp knives bolted to his lower jar. Manny has actually gotten pretty good at doing this. His timing is pretty good. He’s expecting the charge.”
Puig and the cameraman do have backup in guide Al Roberts, who is armed with a spear and his extensive experience. Berg said the team calls him The Enforcer. His assistance has been critical.
“He is a hard-core tough individual,” Berg said. “His job is to get in between the boar and the cameraman. Manny has actually got tore up pretty bad.”
“All hell breaks loose when you hit one with a spear. They are intent on killing Manny. Generally, we get it under control pretty quickly.”
On his aforementioned knockdown, Puig was targeting a charging boar for the final show of the season. He plunged his trident in the boar’s shoulder, but he went down as well.
“It’s a really solid shot. Then something knocks Manny down flat on his butt,” said Berg, only learning from the video that the spear shaft stuck in the moving pig had actually whacked Puig. “That’s one that we weren’t expecting. It hit him in the shoulder and left a big bruise. It was a real solid slam into his shoulder.”
The 'Savage Wild' crew after a successful hunt. (Courtesy 'Savage Wild')
The only non-pig Puig adventure on “Savage Wild” this season is Puig being Puig, foregoing modern weapons, protections and methods to fight primal battles with Mother Nature. In a show on a beautiful wild river, he hand catches longnose gar up to 6 feet long. Berg said it one of the best shows they’ve ever done.
Many of the shows offer viewers Puig’s perspective as he straps a camera on his head or around his waist. Sometimes they’ve been placed on the spear shaft.
Berg, an award-winning filmmaker and the creator, just wants to keep Puig safe in their chosen path of hunting dangerous wild boar to prevent real tragedy.
“It seems like our demographic is interested in Manny going after wild boar with spear,” Berg said. “Ok, let’s run with that.”
For more information, go to the 'Savage Wild' show page