Offer I Couldn't Refuse....
“A newborn lamb is like a hot pie to a hungry pig so get those dogs of yours down here before we start having issues”.
Dans request for help in thinning out a fair few troublesome pigs before he started lambing was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Planning kicked into full swing and with a real good mate onboard for the trip everything was looking good. Our plan was to head out the back of the station on horseback and get these pigs sorted.
Everything was mapped out and then mother nature stepped in and overnight everything changed. A prolonged deluge soaked the area and the slip prone hills crumbled. The papa rock tracks are treacherous even in the dry but add slips and sodden mud to the mix and this immediately made moving stock and accessing the farm almost impossible.
There were two major issues, we couldn’t access the back of the farm to hunt and the more pressing issue was that Dan was going to have to lamb the ewes out on the bush edges – it was a devastating combination of hungry pigs lurking and fat pregnant ewes slopping around in sodden paddocks.
Like most back-country fellas Dan attacked the problem head on and in no time we had a solution.
Why plough through the mud when you could fly over it, a call to Precision Helicopters had a chopper on standby to taxi and ferry us to the areas where the pigs might cause issues during lambing.
We arrived at Blue Duck Station and were immediately greeted with hot coffees and a strategy and safety meeting that resembled something from a war movie.
A large group of hard looking fit fellas crowded around huge printed maps with steaming coffees, whilst dogs, boots and other hunting paraphernalia littered the tables outside.
The new plan was to get dropped in pairs to the tops of ridges and hunt downhill, clearing all the ridges and faces at the back of the farm of pigs.
The extensive planning included full communication with each group back to headquarters via radios and line of sight to the chopper if required.
Dans passion for conservation and meticulous planning even included having the Kiwi aversion fellas onsite and irrelevant of whether they had already passed or not all dogs were put through a full kiwi aversion certification before being allowed out on the hill.
We lucked into being the first group flying in and were heading to a great block.
Before we could slip a second coffee down it was time to take the dogs through the Kiwi certification and get ready as the chopper was on its way. Stan’s Whare was our first hunting spot and as the chopper tracked over the back paddocks we saw that the pig problem was worse than expected and almost 50% of the paddocks were gone.
The pigs were already out of the bush and hungry, the waterlogged paddocks provided an easy feed and the soon to be born lambs would follow.
We exited the chopper with the plan being to meet the chopper back at the same spot in 2 hours. The noise of the chopper as it exited the valley got the pig hunting underway immediately as two unlucky porkers tried to escape the noise and ran right into us.
The poor dogs hesitated for a few seconds as both pigs seemed to charge angrily toward us at full speed. The tables turned rather quickly and within seconds both pigs were secured.
What a start – 2 minutes on the ground and two pigs waiting for the chopper to collect. We caught our breath at that stage and realized only 30 minutes before we had been excitedly sipping coffee at the other side of the farm.
Heading back toward the bush edge we both looked at each other and I commented that we might need some whiskey and possibly Voltarin later that night if the hunting stayed this fast and furious.
We didn’t need to wait too much longer and before we even exited the paddocks the two main dogs were gone. In the time it took to actually turn the GPS on and compose ourselves they had streaked out to over 600 meters away.
The steep mist covered ridges seemed to rise straight up and the dogs were not stopping as they headed up and over into the bush. We head a faint bark and the GPS told us the dogs were stationary and barking. I looked over at my mate and he chuckled, “first ones yours” he said.
I should have realized the cunning buggar had looked over the terrain and realized this would be a marathon not a sprint race. I stupidly took the bait and hurdled off at full speed in a flat out race to get to the dogs, he stood for a minute or two and selected a leading ridge to aim for and ambled after me at a very gentlemanly pace.
My haste to get there led me off the side of the ridge and I was forced to sidle through a sea of gigi. Bacon,eggs and the recently drunk coffee were rolling around heavily and I was wondering about my decision to exit the ridge.
The barking was closer now and a yelp from my main dog had me digging in and crawling at a faster pace through and under the jungle of vegetation between me and the action.
As I got closer I realized the dogs had the pig just over a steep rise, maybe in hindsight a better description might have been a small cliff but with the blood pumping and my little dog in trouble I wasn’t stopping. I clambered up now thankful for the gigi and vines providing me with something to haul up on and minimize the risk of exiting the rather steep cliff I found myself clambering over.
The downward side wasn’t much better and as I looked down the dogs were right under me. I quickly found myself trapped with one arm wrapped around a punga stopping me from slipping right into the action and a camera in the other hand trying to capture some footage for our video.
The pig was a real scrapper and any thoughts of filming went right out the window when he charged out and flipped one of the dogs out over the broken pungas he was hiding under.
With no other option available I dropped the camera and as it bounced and rolled toward the action I attempted to slide the rifle off my shoulder whilst still clinging to my trusty punga.
I yelled to my dogs with a command to get outside, both my older dogs backed out immediately, but I hadn’t factored in my mates pup. He was now left on his own and right in the way of my shot. The pig took his chance and with a quick charge and a flick of his head the pup had his first war wound.
The pup quickly decided to back off as well and with no dogs in the way the 44 boomed and the pig rolled. I let go of the punga and began an out of control skid trying to scoop up the very second-hand looking camera. As I glanced up the pig twitched and stood back up.
I felt like one of the old cartoon characters as my legs started going like windmills whilst I tried to get some traction to stop my downhill slide, in the end I gave up and instead focused on steering myself toward the only thing between me and the pig, a solid looking punga stump.
My foot brushed past the stump and with a resounding thump my crown jewels hit the stump full force leaving me flat on my back straddling the punga looking up at the sky and thankful I already had three children.
With the gun still in my hand I lay there gasping and as I broke it open and slid another bullet in my brave little dog got between me and the pig and made a valiant effort to get me out of trouble. She dragged his attention away to one side and presented me with a great side on shot on the pig.
At a distance of about two meters the second shot was bang on target and the pig instantly hit the ground. As it kicked and flopped I realized another meter and it would fall off a rather large bluff and the carry out would be even harder. I leant forward, grabbed a leg and lay back and as I did my old dog came in and licked my face.
I’m not sure if she was congratulating me or just making sure I was unhurt, my heavy breathing and the slight groan when I moved was due more to my impact with the punga and I was sure parts of my anatomy were now positioned somewhere well above where they used to sit.
My mate turned up minutes later and upon his arrival we dragged the pig up and checked the dogs over. We had all been lucky and with only a minor cut to his pups leg we began the trek out and back to our chopper pick up point.
The remainder of the day consisted of 2 more drop offs and pigs everywhere. We ended up as the last pick up and arrived back to the HQ around 5pm to see a raft of pigs lined up and some keen and seemingly still energetic hunters keen to check our catch.
I struggled out of the chopper walking like a western cowboy and attempted to stand tall and maintain conversation. I was physically shattered and could think of nothing better than a hot shower followed by whiskey and sleep.
The night wore on and I got my wish, whiskey flowed and somehow I was volunteered to take a horse out first thing the next morning and mop up a few easier pigs seen from the chopper. I did wonder if I could ride side saddle and just hoped that the horse didn’t misbehave and further injure my bruised anatomy any further.
Dog First Aid Kits
This First Aid kit is an emergency kit for your dog to help stabilise injuries until they get professional help
The ultimate in hunting vests is 100% waterproof and super comfortable.
Blast Full Zip
Blast Jacket features Ballistic nylon wear pads for durability and strength