Another early start this morning finally paid dividends. My son Ryan and I have invested a few early mornings in chasing calf-killing wild dogs on a farm close to home. On the first visit, a thick morning mist reduced our visibility greatly. We enjoyed a spectacular sunrise in beautiful, scenic far north Queensland (FNQ), but saw no dogs.
The next visit, we had begun to retrace our steps to the vehicle. I continued to scan the country to either side with my binoculars. Just over 700 metres away, in the shade of bush, I picked up what looked like a dog. I called and was pleased to see a large black dog stand up and walk out into the sunlight and stare in our direction. After a time, I gave another call. The dog turned and headed back into the thick bordering jungle.
This morning we snuck in a bit closer to where we had seen the dog. We used the big timber post of a farm gate to both give us cover and provide a rest for the binoculars. Within seconds I spotted the black wild dog once more, in nearly the same position as last time. I used the range-finder to determine that it was nearly 550 metres away.
I called, and the dog took notice, changing position to stare in our direction. It trotted down into and crossed a gully to emerge in plain view, about 500 metres away. Even better, a slightly smaller red wild dog joined the black dog. They were interested, but had no intention of coming closer. I tried a few different calls and even waved a rag tied to the end of my hiking stick. They seemed to be fascinated, but stayed put.
The 257 Weatherby Magum with its Swarovski z6i 2.5-15×56 scope has a ballistic trurret tuned to the 110 grain Nosler Accubond load I use. It is sighted out to 500 metres. Ryan is a good shot – better than me – but 500 metres across an open, wind-swept paddock was marginal. The chance of getting the second dog was almost zero.
From my experience, I was reasonably confident that the wild dogs would eventually come to investigate our position. We were well secreted sitting behind the big gate post and the wind was in our favour. We worked out a couple of possible stalking routes that would take us closer, but we would have to cross a few hundred metres in plain view and the dogs were looking right at us. The only option was to sit tight and wait.
After half an hour, both dogs stood up and began to head towards us. The red dog took the lead and made a bee-line for us. The black wild dog was more wary and held well back, quartering back and forth. I whispered to Ryan to shoot the furthest dog first. The front dog would hear the smack of the bullet before it heard the shot and that would drive it toward us.
However, with the black dog lingering behind some grass more than 200 metres away, we were obliged to shoot the red dog first as it trotted straight toward us. When it was about 70 metres away, I gave a little whistle and as soon as it stopped and put its head up, Ryan shot it. We kept our focus on the red dog for a few split-seconds until it was obvious it was out for the count. The black dog was sprinting for the forest.
I tried a couple of calls to make it stop briefly, but to no avail. Ryan’s second shot surprised me, but not as much as seeing that fleeing black dog tumble. I congratulated my hunting buddy on some exceptional shooting. We walked past the red dog and made our way toward the more distant black dog. We would have not trouble finding it in the pasture as the cattle had gathered to sniff and push at the dead canine.
On arriving at the dead black dog, I got out my range-finder and scanned the big post we had fired from. It was 358 metres away. Patience and perseverance, along with some impressive shooting, had finally paid off big time!