Seeking Wild Dogs

Seeking Wild Dogs

After doing a few chores, we were setting the patio table for late breakfast.  It was a beautiful, cool, sunny morning following the recent rain.  As always, the first things on the table were a pot of strong brewed coffee and my binoculars.  The third item, my camera with telephoto lens had yet to be retrieved.

Between the neighbours and myself, we have mowed the area below us, right to the water’s edge.  Down near the water’s edge I saw a dog trotting towards the neighbour’s place.  Initially, I took it to be their dog, acquired as a pup 18 months ago, and who I have not seen for a few months.

Even at 150 metres I could see that the pup had apparently matured into a big, strong dog that was trotting along confidently.  The dog was only in sight for a few seconds and disappeared behind some trees before I could uncap the binos and have a closer look at him.

I said to Kathy, “That pup of theirs has turned into a big robust dog.”  The words had no sooner left my mouth than the dog appeared again, retracing his steps at a brisk trot.  I swung the binos up to confirm what I already knew.  A large, red-coloured wild dog filled my field of view.  There was no collar, and no evidence there had ever been a collar on that dog.  Like a number I have shot in this area, he was a cross-breed with a large chest, neck and head.

I passed the binos to Kathy while I dashed for my camera, still in the study cupboard.  A few seconds quicker and I would have got a few photos.  The dog disappeared into a patch of rough scrubby growth.  I gave a howl, hoping he might come back to investigate.  Apart from getting all the pet dogs on the other side of the lake barking, there was no response to my call.  Well, I had to laugh.  All the effort and running about I do seeking wild dogs and there, right in front of my patio table, trots a big alpha male.

In browsing through my diary I reckon I can say that I drive 200 to 300 kilometres and walk about 25 kilometres for every dog I shoot.  Even though, these days, I concentrate on a number of surrounding farms, it all adds up.  With a success rate of about 1 in 10, each trip involves a round trip in the vehicle of between 1 and 40 kilometres, the average being about 25 kms.  On each trip I walk about 1 to 5 kilometres, again averaging about 2.5km.

So, whenever I drop a dog, I feel that I have earned it.  But, every now and then, one of the local alpha dogs comes trotting right past me on my own turf, just to rub it in.

I cancelled my planned stake-out yesterday evening due to rain showers.  This morning we are getting ready for some old friends who are coming to stay a few days.  My hunting buddy Pete is off to check some trail cameras we put up before the rain and, most likely, do a sunset stake-out over a dead calf on that property.  Social activities and other obligations will keep me out of action for a while.

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