First my disclaimer: There is graphic content contained in this blog. Please don't bother to read the rest of this post if it will bother you.
I received a call a couple weeks ago from a friend who breeds/shows Shikoku. A couple times a year several of the NK breeders I know will get together and go to a boar dog training facility. They 'test' their dogs to see if they still have their hunting instincts. A couple of the guys I know are hunters, but most aren't. Anyway, they called to invite me out for the day, and I was more than happy to accept. I've been wanting to see what my dogs can do in a controlled environment.
The facility is off in another prefecture, so it was a bit of a drive to get out there. I wasn't sure how long it would take as traffic over here can get pretty wonky. I ended up over estimating to stay on the safe side, and arrived nearly 2 hours early. As luck would have it I was driving along the main road close to the training area when I did a double take while looking at the side of the road. There next to the curb, on the sidewalk, was a medium sized boar. Looked like the poor thing had been hit by a large vehicle, and had broken its hip, front right leg, and was bleeding internally. It was unable to move, and it's very dangerous to leave an injured boar on the sidewalk of a major thoroughfare. So, I got the dogs out to help me move it. They kept it distracted while I moved it back off the sidewalk.
I posted some time back about a deer that fell onto the road off a cliff and was dying. It's not hunting season, so it's actually illegal to kill or even move animals like this. Today, as I did last time, I did what I had to do.
I met up with the rest of the group, and we got set up at the training pen. We picked out a 70kg female (want to minimize the danger to the dogs, and the males have nasty cutters). People tend to think the larger the boar the more dangerous they are. While in terms of brute strength this may be true, medium sized boar are much faster and agile, and are much more dangerous.
The training area is a fenced off side of a mountain. It's got all the natural features intact, trees, pond, overgrown areas etc. A boar is released, and then one (or more depending) of the dogs are released to find and bay up the boar.
We started off with the experienced dogs, as at the beginning the boar is very energetic and feisty. My friend's 3 year old male Kishu was first in. We had a bit of a laugh, as while the dog was doing his best, it was more of a game of boar chasing dog.
After a bit of running around it was time to switch dogs. No one really wanted to go first, so the buck stopped with Momo and I. We went in, and I got to see first hand what a boar hunting machine she is. She had a slightly rocky start, but she has some pretty impressive moves and great baying. Every time the boar tried to run, she was there to stop it. I had a bit of a tough time getting her out to switch dogs as she just kept going in for more.
After a bit of help getting her out, a few of the other older dogs had their go. One of my friend's Kishu males, and another fellow's Kishu female (I know him from my blog but met for the first time today) did really well. I'm biased, but I think everyone would agree with me that Momo was pretty impressive, and possibly was the best dog out there. If not, at least she's very promising.
The boar was not tiring out as fast as we expected, and we needed it to be at least a little slower before letting the younger inexperienced dogs have a go. Again, the lot fell to my dogs seeing as we actually hunt. Momo, Baron and I went in. This is the first time for Baron being on a boar this size, and only his second time on a live boar. Momo went right in, and Baron was right there to. Boars are smart buggers, and right away this one figured out Baron was the weak link and headed right for him. Baron was a bit slow getting out of the way and ended up paying for it by getting charged. He got really mad at the boar after that, and was all back up in its face. We decided that was good enough for Baron's first time, so I pulled him out and went back for Momo. Was a bit of a circus getting Momo out again seeing as she has no stop button. She kept harassing and baying the pig while I tried to find a good spot to get a hold of her. I ended taking a full on charge from the boar at one point and had to vault over it. My first time jumping over a charging boar haha.
After a few more hairy moments (and actually getting bowled over once by the boar) I got Momo out. My friend's 2 veteran Kishu were sent in, and they caught the boar. I got in there right away to get the dogs off, and ended up standing on the edge of a pond holding the two back legs of an angry boar alone. Had to back up to a fence, and let her loose while jumping to safety. Angry little thing sat there under me for a few minutes daring me to get down. Naturally I sat in my safe spot till the boar moved away.
Boar was tired at the point, so it was time to start the younger dogs. They all took turns baying up the boar which by now was pretty used to the dogs, so only made a token move to charge them if they got too close. I got Baron in for another look at the boar, and Haru had a bit of a trot around the pen as well. Once everyone was done, we caught and dispatched the boar.
Everyone got their share of meat, the dogs got some bones, and everyone got ticks. Yup those little buggers are everywhere in the mountains this time of year. I spent a lot of time picking them off my dogs and myself. I prefer to get them off before they bite! Sprayed the dogs and then we headed home. The dogs are tired out, no one got hurt ('cept the boar that was butchered for the table), and it was an amazingly non rainy day. Lots of sweating though as it was pretty humid.