To go back to last year, I met so many amazing people, and had so many great experiences. I feel I was really blessed. From work, to dogs and hunting, every corner I've turned I've run into people who have taught me so much. If there is such a thing as 'luck', I've had my share of its good side. While I'm not a religious person, and I'm not big on fate or luck, I do believe that good guys do not finish last. Do your best to be honest and appreciate the people around you, and good things will come.
This past week I took Haru and Baron south, and loaded up my gear in the jeep for 3 days in the mountains. I've done a DIY job on the jeep to where there's a bed in it and a crated area for the dogs. It's also maximized the jeeps limited storage capabilities. All in all, had a great few (cold) days out.
We arrived around noon on Friday with a few hours to hunt. Decided to check out a new area, pulled up, and let the dogs out by the side of the road to do their business and play a bit. Next thing I know Baron whips up the side of the hill next to the clearing I was parked in, I hear branches snapping, and out runs a 80kg-90kg boar. My heart skipped a beat, Baron is just under 4 months old and in no condition to be taking on a boar, let alone a big one. Having parked right next to some farm houses, and on the side of the road next to a loud construction site, I would never have imagined a pig that close. Neither of the dogs had tracking collars on, and in a flash they were both chasing the fleeing pig. I wheeled around, grabbed my gun, and charged after them.
Trying to keep up with 2 dogs chasing a pig in the mountains is hard, but I was terrified of the thought the pig might stop and charge the dogs, so I was flying after them. I think with all the noise I was making the pig figured it would be better to keep running, but after a bit the dogs got ahead of me in a bamboo thicket and I couldn't see which way they'd gone. There wasn't much I could do other than try to 'recall' the dogs. After a few recall whistles and yells, Haru came running back, but Baron was nowhere in sight. A few gut wrenching minutes went by before I could see the little white terrorist bounding back through the bamboo. I lucked out.
So, very proud on the one hand that at every turn Baron seems to know pigs, but feeling downright stupid for allowing that situation. Guess all the walks (in mountains with no large game) paid off, and he knew to come back when called. I got the dogs leashed up, and popped them back in the car while I scouted out the area for the rest of the afternoon. Not going to let Haru out with big pigs like that in the neighborhood.
After a slightly chilly night in the mountains, we were up the next morning at the crack of dawn. And then went back to sleep till around 9. Yup, no rush to get out there when I'm hunting solo. Went back to the area Baron rustled up the pig, and decided to try and stalk it. After an hour I found it laid up in some bamboo. That was the good news, bad news being the bamboo was so thick, and there was fallen debris everywhere making it impossible to get close enough to take a shot. I spent a good hour trying to get closer, but finally a wind change gave me away, and the boar plowed downhill through the forest leaving me with no shot. Happens a lot when stalking.
Slightly disappointed, but trying to make the most of the day, I scouted out the rest of the mountain. I had plans to go out the next day with my two other hunting buddies and their dogs, and figured having a 'plan b' just in case our usual mountain didn't work out would be good. We've taken 4 pigs so far in this one mountain, and while there are a couple left, they've gotten pretty good at evading dogs and hunters. There's one 100kg plus male in there that has killed 2 dogs owned by a hunter we know on different occasions. We also had one of my friends dogs cut (slightly) last week when we finally found him. This pig is dangerous, and amazingly smart. He tends to shake the dogs by running around the farmhouses at the bottom of the mountain. No fear of the dogs that he knows are chained up down there.
Anyway, got all bundled up in the jeep for another night out. Decided to park down by the lake under some street lights, as there's a public restroom down there. About 2 hours later I wake up to some heavy handed knocking. Yes, the local cops on patrol were freaking out because the windows of the car were fogged up. They thought someone was committing suicide in their car (all too common over here). After checking my license and a quick look around the car, they realized I'm just a nutty hunter and not suicidal. Hey, if I wanted to die I could just let the boars charge me, or blow my brains out, right?
Well thanks to that interruption I was unable to sleep for the rest of the night. Got together with my friends at 7, decided to try out the new spot I'd found and then do our mountain later. Well as we were pulling out, the head of a local hunting group we know came driving up. We're on good terms with them, so asked where they were planning to go. Turns out they wanted to hunt the same spot, so we let them have it, and I told them where the pigs were laid up. Off we went to our usual spot.
30 minutes in, 1 of the dogs headed down hill, while 2 kept on going. Myself and one of my buddies stayed to see what the dog was up to. This dog has a really good nose, and is an excellent tracker. 2 minutes later he was onto a pig, and we could hear him baying it up. On the walkie our friend up ahead said the other 2 dogs were onto something as well. After walking this mountain every week since the season opened, I pretty much know where everything is, and where the animals head when they're chased so I ran ahead to cut off the escape route. A minute later I hear something tearing downhill toward me at my ambush spot. I disengage the safety, get sighted in on the area the boar should come from, and out charges a big buck.
Deer are hunted in limited numbers here in Chiba, and only under a special license. We don't have one, so had to let this big boy go. He got to within 10 meters of me, and was bearing straight down on me, so I yelled at him. He did a beautiful bounce to the left, and was off in a flash with 2 of the dogs hot on his tail. Seeing a deer bounding through the forest at close quarters is amazing. They look like they're flying through the air in slow motion. Well anyway, one of the hunters I know can hunt deer, so maybe we'll get some venison for the freezer before the season ends.
2 of the dogs were on the deer, but the 3rd was still on a pig. I ran to the next point to cut him off, but the 1 dog was doing a great job of slowing him down. He bayed that pig up for half an hour, enough time to go pick up the 2 dogs that had gone back to the truck, and take them to the fresh scent trail. The one dog was having trouble keeping the pig stopped, every time one of my buddies would get close, it would bolt. After getting the other two dogs on the trail, they stopped the pig in no time. The pig weighed in at right around 70kg, and was a female.
There were more fresh tracks from the big bad boar in the area, so we got the sow to my friend's house to butcher later, and headed back out. After a long afternoon, the dogs finally rustled up another medium sized pig, but it crossed into the next mountain. That big bad boy is still out there somewhere, and hopefully we'll be able to find him before the end of the season. The freezer is full of meat again, just in time for the BBQ down at a friend's bar on the 24th.
Sad news. I have no pictures because I haven't fixed the Nikon yet (I know, it broke 6 months ago), and my new mobile phone runs out of batteries in less than 24 hours even if I don't use it at all (that can't be right). Lastly, I managed to drop my my cheap, but handy video camera, while running through a swamp to get to the pig. Will have to find a new indestructible piece of equipment that can handle all the abuse I heap on my electronic gadgets.