Stalking wild dogs on their kill

Patience and discipline are required when stalking wild dogs on their kill.  A week or so ago, I was driving to one of my most productive locations, where a calf lay dead in the long grass.  It had been killed a few days earlier, not far away, and the farmer had dragged it to my preferred location.  I have described the set-up in earlier blogs.  The first challenge was a test of discipline, but more on that later.

I have a trail camera located in a tree overlooking the dead calf, and it has produced a wealth of photos over the last few months.  Those photos have enabled me to shoot half a dozen marauding wild dogs and a couple of boar.  I don’t normally shoot the pigs unless they are feeding on the carrion and I need to top-up the supply.  The 257 Weatherby Magnum drops them where they stand, into the carrion pile to a provide continuing attraction to the wild dogs and pigs.

Trail cameras a vital tool for hunters

The trail camera had previously shown a black wild dog feeding off the carcass a bit before sunset.  Then a mob of about eight large pigs had arrived and chased it away.  So, on this occasion, I was going in a bit earlier, at about 5 PM.  I wanted to swap the trail camera card before sitting up on the spur, in my stake-out stand.  That is just a slight depression in the grass that gives me a sweeping view over the creek floodplain.  I have had multiple successes from this spot, like this, and this and this.

I was only a few hundred metres from where I park the vehicle when the resident mob of eight, large black pigs crossed the track in front of me.  They were not unduly alarmed and continued at leisurely pace.  It was very tempting to bale out of the vehicle and bowl a couple over.  However, there was every likelihood that my preferred quarry, the wild dog, was close by and would be spooked if I started shooting with the rather noisy Weatherby Magnum.  Gritting my teeth, I watched the hogs amble off into a patch of dense scrub.

Having kitted up for stalking wild dogs on their kill, I walked slowly in towards where the dead calf lay.  It is the style of hunting that I described in my last blog about what gear to carry for stalking game.  With a little recent rain and warmer summer temperatures, the grass was on a growth spurt.  What had been no more than lush, ankle-deep lawn was now between knee and thigh height grass.

Stopping repeatedly, I carefully scanned the location of the dead calf with my Swarovski 10×42 binoculars.  As always, I also looked all around me as well, not forgetting to look back along the direction I had come.  Curious wild dogs will sometimes come sniffing along behind you.

Stalking wild dogs on their kill

I had gotten to about thirty metres or so from where the calf lay hidden by the deep grass and was just about to increase my pace and walk briskly straight up to the trail camera when I saw a touch of black in the grass.  I froze awhile and stared at that spot.  After some time there was a slight movement.  I figured it was most likely a small pig feeding off the carcass.  However, it would not hurt to treat the situation as being that of a wild dog.

Very carefully, I slowly and quietly chambered a round.  I have always avoided carrying loaded firearms.  I managed to do that without alarming the animal.  Slowly, slowly I began edging forward, with rifle to shoulder.  My Swarovski z6i 2.5-15×56 was dialled back to minimum power the illuminated centre dot reticle was glowing red.  I kept the red dot centred on the black shape I could see ahead of me.

When I was about 20 metres from the animal, a pair of black, pointy ears popped up.  It was a dog after all!  My finger slid off the stock and onto the trigger.  The instant the dog stood up, I fired.  The 110 grain Nosler Accubond travelling at 3,310 fps delivered an instant kill.  The dog flopped forward onto the remains of the calf.  It seems that the wild dog had been lying with its belly to the ground, having a leisurely feed, making it nearly impossible to see until I was close.

I was pleased that my discipline, persistence and patience that had paid-off in stalking wild dogs on their kill.  Had I shot at the pigs that crossed my path, or just walked straight up to the kill location, I would most likely have missed that dog.

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