Lately, I have been having good results in howling-up wild dogs. That means I simulate their wailing call by blowing through my cupped hands, rather than using commercial predator squealers. This morning provides no better example of that.
I walked out into the back paddocks of a dairy farm where wild dogs have been harassing the new calves. It is a spot I have hunted for some years now and regularly get dogs. In fact, the imminent December issue of the SSAA Australian Shooter has a story about one of my recent successful hunts there.
There is a circular, concrete water trough for the cattle that is one of my preferred stake-out positions on that farm. I sit with my back against it and have a sweeping view over hundreds of acres of pasture. Today I had brought along my camera with telephoto lens in anticipation of trying to video any wild dog I managed to draw out of the jungle with my howling.
As an example, the following short video was taken by my hunting buddy Peter on Saturday afternoon. We were hunting wild dogs that had been on a killing rampage on the new calves on a friend’s property. We sat on a vantage point overlooking the area where the attacks had occurred and I had sought to howl up those dogs.
Anyway, this morning, at the dairy farm, I sat myself down against the concrete tank and gave a couple of howls to start with before setting myself up. As I leaned forward to lay out camera, binoculars and rifle conveniently at hand I saw a movement in my peripheral vision. Turning my head, I saw a black wild dog emerge into the sunlight from the solid wall of jungle bordering the pasture. He was about 300 metres away. Damn! I had not even mounted the camera on the tripod.
I gave another howl and he began to trot towards me. Picking up the camera, I took a few long-distance photos of the approaching wild dog. He paused a few times to look about for the other dog he thought he could hear. Each time, I gave a short, low howl and got him moving towards me again. As he got closer, he began to answer me. I took a short piece of video of that.
Then he sat down about 120 metres away. He was happy to answer my howls while he scanned all about for that other dog. I had hoped to draw him in closer for some better photos and video. After a lengthy chat with me, he abruptly stood up and began to retreat back to the jungle. At that point I killed him cleanly with an 85 grain .243 Nosler Partition fired from my Sauer XT 101 Classic rifle.
It was only a short drive of about 20 minutes to get home. As I was getting close, driving down the highway at 100kmph, I detected a movement out in a field to my right. A quick glance showed a tan wild dog loping along, parallel to the road and about 200 metres away. It was clearly heading for dense bordering scrub.
I slowed the car and pulled off onto the verge. Then I took my telephoto camera and walked back to where the scrub met the pasture. Sitting down on the shoulder of the road, I howled a few times. There was no reply, but shortly afterwards I could hear an animal approaching. The floor of the scrub jungle is ankle-deep in crispy, tinder-dry leaves. There was no avoiding making plenty of noise in moving through that leaf litter.
I called quietly a few more times to keep the approaching animal headed straight towards me. The sound got tantalisingly close and it was also apparent that there were two animals. Then I saw a few hints of movement in the dense undergrowth. I gave another low, soft howl. I could hear the scuffed footfalls of the dog coming my way.
Then, about 15 metres away, and a little below me, a big alpha male wild dog stepped through the barbed wire fence that separated the scrub jungle from the cleared highway verge. He looked straight at me for a few seconds, while I took some quick photos. His expression was one of “what the …” as he stared intently at me.
Then he spun around and wasted no time scuttling off into the dense cover. I caught a glimpse of his companion, a smaller and darker female. I was feeling very pleased with myself as I walked back to the car.
After such an interesting and enjoyable morning it was a shock to come home to tragic news. Yesterday afternoon, on another close-by farm, a little boy we know and admire was seriously injured in a horse riding accident. You would not meet a nicer family and the little 8 year old boy is a perfect charmer with a great personality and beautiful nature.
Just recently, at the local agricultural show, he had won a prize for one of his entries. If I recollect, he won $100; a substantial prize for a little chap. His mother was surprised and proud when he told her that he wanted to donate his prize to the farmers’ drought relief scheme.
The last time I visited his folk’s farm he proudly demonstrated for me how he had improved his cracking of a stock whip. Then, at his request, I gave him his first lesson in wild dog howling and left him with some homework to practice and the promise of a second lesson on my next visit. I sincerely hope we get the opportunity for that second lesson. There is not much news about his condition, but things look pretty grim.
If you believe that such things help, then please say a prayer for little Joey and spare a few thoughts for the world of grief his parents, family and friends have been precipitated into.
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