Sunday, December 20, 2009

More bacon...

Went out with the same guys as yesterday after a female we figured was still in the area. Took us all day to find her, but we nabbed her at 3pm. She was a monster female at over 100kg. Again the locals were shocked, as were we, and again we took ages to drag her out of the mountain.

I'd post more as the whole day was another interesting story, but I'm seriously tired out. Fridge is already full, so just brought home one huge liver and heart and gave the rest away.

Time to get some serious sleep.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bacon galore

Went out hunting with 2 friends today. Found some monster tracks from a male that just came into the area the night before, most likely in search of females in heat. We took a few hours to stake out the area, then headed in. We took my 3 of my friend's dogs in as Haru's definitely not ready for a big boar yet.

Around 45 minutes in, one of the dogs found him laid up in a bamboo fortress. The other 2 dogs jumped in right away, and less than a minute from when the first dog found the boar, the dogs had him locked down. Since there were three of us, we headed down the ridge with me walking the center. We wanted to make sure this bad boy didn't get away, and decided to block his escape routes.

No worries there, the boar was comfortable fighting where he was (less than 10 meters from where he was sleeping), and it was all over in around 5 minutes. 2 shots fired (by my friend), with one hitting him in the vitals, and we moved in to finish him off.

An excellent good fast hunt that went exactly according to plan, no dogs hurt, and a 130kg+ (friend's scale broke recently, but 2 weeks ago they took a boar that weighed 132kg and this one was apparently much bigger) boar down. Getting the boar was the easy part. We spent 2 hours getting him down the mountain, and another 3 and a half butchering it. He was so big we had to get help to deal with the moving/butchering. He was a seriously fat pig, and seeing as all the pigs we've seen in the area recently are, it looks like there's plenty of good eating around. The local hunters that came to help were shocked at the size of this guy, apparently they don't see many this big around there. Judging by the footprints though, I think I've seen larger ones further south.

Now I've got a freezer and fridge full of meat, and am trying to think of all the different ways to cook it. Tried a few slices off the rump fried in salt and pepper, and it was really good. I thought being a male and that big the meat would be a bit tough, but it was pretty much the same texture as store bought pork but with a little bit more flavor.

Heading out again tomorrow after a smaller female who's tracks we also saw this morn.

Got some good training in for Haru and Baron today as well. A small pig was caught in a box trap nearby, and one of the local hunters told me about it. I took them in one at a time to see their reactions. Baron went charging right at him barking, got a little scared when the pig charged toward him, but picked right up again afterward. As usual I barked along with him :) Haru was a lot more cautious, and opted to stand safely behind me barking at the caged pig. Was excellent to see where they're both at, and I'm going to work to slowly get them where they need to be to hunt pigs as safely as possible. Took some video today, so when I get around to it I'll post again.

Here's some low quality pics off my mobile of the boar.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Sake

Went to a 'Bo-nen-kai' which is basically a year end party to close out and 'forget' ('Bo'=forget,'Nen'=year) the past year. I was invited to this one by a Shikoku breeder, and thought it was supposed to be a small 5-6 person deal. Was roundly surprised when I arrived and there were over 30 guests. Apparently the party is held every year by this group of Nippo breeders, so they're all Nihonken people, a couple Nippo judges and board members. Also met an ex Akiho (Akita Hozonkai) judge there.

The food was great, company was too, and the alcohol was excellent. Recently I haven't been getting 'buzzed' off alcohol, it just seems to run through my system and not do much. It's not pleasant cause if I don't get anything out of it, why the hell am I drinking. Well, really went after the Nihon-shu, and finally got my kick. When everyone was heading to bed (we were staying over night at a 'Ryo-kan') I went out to walk the dogs. I brought them with me as I planned to hunt in the area the next day.

After walking them, getting back inside and crawling under the futons, I could hear the sounds of the waves crashing (we were on the beach), and the wind howling. Every now and again I could here what sounded like a dog howling too. The only thought on my mind was, 'Please don't let that be Baron.' I got dressed, headed out to the car, and sure enough Baron was wailing. I took the pups out of their crates (I've got the back of the jeep all set up for the dogs and hunting gear) walked them again, and got them back in the car. Nothing doing, Baron started wailing again. Funny, as usually he's fine being crated in the car as long as Haru is there too.

So, I ended up curling up in the front and spending the night there. Good thing I always have my sleeping bag packed in with the hunting gear. Come dawn, I got up and headed over to my hunting spot. After getting all my gear and Haru ready, I noticed I was still a bit buzzed. Figured I'd be okay after walking a bit, so I tried that and got around 15 minutes in before I gave up. Alcohol was definitely still there, and definitely not a good idea going traipsing through the mountains like that.

Had some breakfast, took a nap, and started heading home. Figured I'd stop by my usual hunting area on the way back and take a look. Even by Sunday standards, it was pretty nuts. There were 2 big hunting 'groups' out in the same area. One was just leaving though, and asked if I'd seen 2 of their dogs. I'd see a few earlier up the mountain, so told them where to look. They were hunting mixes, and these hunters don't use radio collars or gps. Kinda makes it hard to find all your dogs at the end of the day.

With that many people running around, I decided to stay out of it, and drop by my local hunter friend's house. He was out hunting, but his kids surrounded the car and wanted to play with Baron again. So we hung out playing with the kids till their dad got back. Baron did great, and the kids all took turns holding/running around with him. When their dad got back we talked for a while, and it turns out they had a small pig that had been trapped earlier in the day. It was already dead and bled, just waiting to be dressed and dropped into the freezer. I asked if it was okay to show Baron his first pig and see his reaction, and he agreed.

At first Baron took a few whiffs and wanted to get away from the pig, but I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity. I started grabbing at the pig, making growling sounds, barking, and shaking it much to the amusement of all the 5 or 6 hunters standing around watching. My friend used to hunt with Kai, but while they were good dogs and had a lot of drive, they didn't have the skill to actually stop the pigs long enough for him to get there. Apparently he hunted with them for 4 years before switching to the dogs he has now which are 'Ji-inu' (local hunting mixes). He really likes Kai, but naturally his experiences hunting with Nihonken leave him a little biased.

He's been trying to sell me on his dogs for a while (he doesn't want me to waste 4 years like he did with dogs that don't cut it), and he started talking about how the pups from this line of Ji-inu will latch on to pigs at 3 months. Just as he said that, and I was looking up at him, Baron attacked the pig, and started biting its rear legs, growling and barking. It was like a switch turned on somewhere, in a flash he was all over the pig, running around it barking, picking spots to bite and tug on. All the other hunters stopped laughing at me, and were very impressed with him. He's 2 months old and this was the first pig he's ever seen or smelled. Me, I was thrilled relieved and feeling very proud. Looks like Baron has the 'pig gene'.

So, Baron's started on the path to becoming a pig hunter. I would have filmed or taken shots of him, but it was already dark out and couldn't get it on cam this time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Hunting Debate

I see myself as a fairly educated 'ethical' person. At first glance I definitely don't look like the stereotypical outdoorsman/hunter. Pretty much everyone I meet that finds out I hunt goes into a mild shock like state. I'm definitely on the small thin side of the scale (all it takes is a good typhoon gust to send me on my way to China), and I definitely don't dress the part. Most people expect I would be on the other side of the spectrum, defending helpless animals from the big bad hunter.

I'm big on 'eco-friendly' stuff, want to build a house that is totally energy self sufficient, and grow my own food. I've loved animals since I can remember, and owned all sorts of pets and strays growing up. I'll probably post all my thoughts on the hunting debate at some point, but to be honest I don't always feel I've got it all figured out. I found a great post on Treehugger.com that encapsulates a lot of my opinions on the subject, so I'm posting a link to it here.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/11/hunting-fishing-hypocrisy.php

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

For Fun

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Cellphone pic sux, but too cute to pass up. Both tuckered out from a day in the mountains and the obligatory shower afterwards.

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Haru sporting her Garmin Astro collar.

Pigs 5, Human 0

So, 5 trips this year and no pigs. It would most definitely be easier to hunt without Haru at the moment. Of course it's enjoyable to have a partner, but I'm pretty much out there to train her, and so the hunting suffers a bit. Just got to stick with it.

Rustled up a sow today with 4 large piglets, tried to get Haru onto them, but she didn't realize they were there and was too busy with some other scent. They got down the gulley and up the other side, so I figured I might as well take the shot. Around 80-90 meter shot, had one of the piglets broadside and had the time to get a good look, and I missed. Haru was oblivious to the whole situation, even though the pigs ran nearly past her. I had some fun and tracked the pig family for a while, nice to see what extremely hot tracks look like.

There was a lot of pig activity in the area, fresh tracks and tilled fields everywhere, but those were the only pigs we found. They were sleeping in a bamboo thicket at the top of an embankment 30 meters away from where I parked the jeep. Took me walking in a 2km loop to find them though... was just getting back to where I could see the jeep and bam. Wish there was a shooting range in the prefecture where I could actually fire slugs/shoot at targets etc. The last governor we had here was a liberal who wanted to ban all hunting/firearms in the prefecture. So she started off slowly by closing down the main shooting range. There are only two others, and they have limitations on what you can fire.

Left the pups in the car for a bit and hiked up to where a trapper has bait out for pigs. It attracts a lot of birds, and I was thinking maybe I could tag another pheasant. I hunkered down and a few minutes later I see a big bushy tail bounding toward me. Cute little squirrel carrying some sort of nut that was nearly as big as he was. I don't think he even saw me, as he got to within 2 meters and climbed the tree next to me. He just sat up there munching away.

Didn't see any pheasants, but saw a bird that I hadn't seen in Chiba before, Bamboo Partridges. I didn't know there were any here, but now I know exactly where they are. They're actually an introduced species, but are on the list of huntable birds. I figure they probably make good eating, and I would have taken a few but wasn't sure if they were on the 'list' till I got home and checked.

Have showered the dogs, picked off the ticks (white dogs are great!), and gotten everyone tucked in for bed. If I had my way I'd be off in the mountains again tomorrow. Alas I have things to do, and life cannot be all play and no work.