Thursday, July 29, 2010

When it Rains

Well it cools down! Temperatures dropped from 34 to 24 centigrade overnight, and there was a slight drizzle. And then I got another call. 60kg male boar in a snare.

I've been worried about Baron. He's coming along really well, but he's a bit too aggressive on boar, and always goes straight at them head on. Doing that in the mountains he's bound to get injured. I asked my friend who owns Baron's dam about it, and he gave me some good advice. I got his mail as I was driving down to the trap with the dogs, so it was perfect timing.

The farmer/landowner came down with me and one of my hunting buddies to check out the boar. This boar was a lively fellow and I could hear him making his little warning grunts and clicks from a ways away. After we made sure he was securely caught, I brought in the dogs on leash, releasing them one by one.

Basically today's training consisted of letting Baron learn the hard way that it's no fun to try to overpower boar. He's got to use his brains, and learn to judge his opponent. If he comes up against a boar he can't stop alone, if he bays it up, the other dogs and myself come to help. Everything went very well, and my worries about Baron being a knuckle headed bruiser were allayed. He got the point, and started attacking from the sides and rear, and actually looking to see where I was at and the other dogs were at. It was a good learning experience for him, and the cooler weather made things a lot easier for all concerned.

Today I brought Haru along and decided to see how she'd do. She's been a bit iffy about boar, and I've had a really hard time reading her. The last time we ran into a boar in the mountains she was the one who found it though, and bayed it up till the other dogs came. She's a good finder, but has never barked on boar before. I wanted to see if it was a fluke, or if she vocalizes because she's more confident when the other dogs are with her.

Well today for the first time she really worked the boar. I was very surprised. The differences in her style of hunting when compared with the Kishu are obvious though. They're looking for an opening to get in and catch, while Haru keeps more distance and bays, with no interest in catching. Once the boar was dispatched, she had no interest in it whatsoever, but the Kishu still wanted to get at it and latch on.

Regardless, I've seen that when she's with the other dogs she does have a lot more confidence, and is quite happy to work with them. She's not going to catch at all, but it may not be a bad thing to have one of the dogs continually baying when they've stopped a boar. If all the dogs catch, a lot of times it gets really quiet and it's harder to pinpoint their location. I'm going to wait before jumping to any decisions based on what I've seen today, but all in all it was a positive effort by all the dogs.

They're all pretty much gun broke, although Haru is still not a big fan. They're starting to catch on that once the gun goes off, the boar's going down, and that if they can stop the boar I'll be there to finish it off.

I managed to drop my phone on the way to the boar, so no pics or video. At least I found it on the way back to the car. We're all muddy and tired, but home.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Busy Day

Got a call early yesterday morning that one of the traps set out by the hunter's association had a boar in it. The local hunting season is from November 15th to February 15th, but whenever farmers report crop damage the local government does a survey and when necessary calls in the hunter's association to do a cull. It's pretty much a volunteer community service. In the area I hunt there's quite a bit of crop damage all year round, and high numbers of game living in extremely close proximity to humans, so there's a cull going on almost all year round.

We took a fair amount of boar out of this particular area last season and were a bit worried because the numbers didn't seem to be rebounding as fast as previous years. We took quite a few large sows, so that was probably the main factor. The farmers have been quite happy as the damage to their crops has been minimal so far. In most areas they will do a combination of trapping and hunting with dogs during culls, but the area I hunt mostly just traps.

Had an extremely busy day planned, but in this heat trapped boars don't last very long. Last week I got a call that there was a large female trapped, but due to work I couldn't make it down that day. The next morning one of my friends went out to collect the boar and it had already died from heat stroke. So, dragged my ass out of bed and decided to take Baron along for some training. I would have taken the girls too, but they're both pretty out of it because of the insane heat wave we're experiencing.

It was a small male boar, under 30kg. One of the local hunters has a new 3 year old BT Shikoku female that just arrived from a friend of his down south who's closing down his breeding operation. She's never seen boar before, so we were interested in seeing how she'd do. As soon as I took Baron out of the car, he bee lined it straight to the boar. He bayed it up very well, so we brought the BT female out next. She showed no interest, but also no fear, just trotted around without even noticing the boar. I figured if I brought Baron back out she might get the idea of what she was supposed to do. So here's the video.

You can see that part way through she finally vocalizes a little and then after that really catches on. I took Baron back to the car as he was starting to realize he couldn't get at the boar, and I didn't want him getting bored. After this we hobbled/released the boar. The dogs caught it very quickly, and the Shikoku female was right in there with Baron. She got a good bite in, and held it till we got there. Between the two of them the boar wasn't going anywhere. We dispatched the boar, and took it down to a nearby stream to cool it down. My friend is 72 years old, and the heat was doing a number on him, so he headed home. I gutted the boar, packed it in ice, and sped home to get to work. Had to go out with a client for dinner in Tokyo, so got home around 11pm. I'd left the boar 'refrigerated' in ice in our bathtub (thank god the wife's away).

Anyway, walked the dogs, then got to work setting up a makeshift work area. Usually I butcher at my friend's house using his set up, but because of yesterday's schedule there was no way around bringing it home. Finally finished packing all the meat and sterilizing the bath and kitchen at around 3am. I'm wiped out and taking it easy today.

I've got some video of Baron and the Shikoku after they caught the boar, but it's short and I'm not that big a fan of gory hunting footage. I think it's more humane to get in there and dispatch an animal quickly instead of taking time to film it. Of course if you have someone else there to film, or the dogs are baying that's another story.