Hamish Wells and Indy

Indy just up the hill above some sheep

Indy just up the hill above some sheep

This was to be Hamish’s third trip into the block for some extra training with his young bitch Indy. Indy had been doing a bit of hunting lately with some harder dogs so was used to getting in and grabbing at the pigs. I had not been out for a hunt for the past five days so was keen to get the out and catch a pig. So when Hamish turned I suggested that we take his dog Indy and Fog out for a quick hunt. It did not take Fog long to to start tracking a pig. As we were watching we got to see Fog tracking up a hill face three hundred meters away and up above him was a sow with young pigs following her. As soon as Fog tracked out over the top I said to Hamish that we would be better going back to the four wheeler and driving around the road to get below Fog. As we rode around the road we got to within 200 meters of Fog where we parked the bike. As soon as I turned the bike motor off we could hear Fog bailing up in the gully above us. This pig had picked one of the nastiest pieces of scrub to bail in that I knew of.

Indy gaining some confidence with Digger on his own

Indy gaining some confidence with Digger on her own

Indy went up towards Fog as soon as she heard the first clear bark and we could hear her up their giving Fog a hand. As we started to close in on the bail Indy came back to us and was not that keen to get back in as this was obviously a very good boar. We spent the next thirty minutes trying to get close to this boar and finally I got to within about seven meters of him so I lined up with a shot into the spine of the boar and that was the last we saw of him as he broke out of their so obviously my shot was not as good as I had hoped. Fog tracked out another four hundred meters before returning with out the pig. I could not tell him off as he had been on this pig for well over an hour. We returned back to the block and put Fog back into his kennel to give him a rest while we had a break. While we were sitting around we watched Indy watching the sheep below the house but she did not try to go towards them.

Hamish shooting at a clay, watched on by Lightning

Hamish shooting at a clay, watched on by Lightning

Next we put Lightning in with the black and white boar. I think Indy may have got a bit of a fright on the boar earlier on in the day as she was a bit reluctant to get in to close with Lightning and his boar, she did have a few barks but was very stand offish.
Once we had finished with the pigs we went down the track with the clay bird thrower and the shot gun and had a couple of turns at shooting some clays. This was a great way to finish off a top day with a great guy.

Anton Megregor with Oddie and Tiger.

Anton getting a photo of Fog and Tiger bailing the white boar, Oddie standing well back hiding

Anton getting a photo of Fog and Tiger bailing the white boar, Oddie standing well back hiding

Anton traveled up from Oamaru for a couple of hours training. This was to be Anton’s third trip in for training. Oddie is a seven year old dog that started as a family pet until Anton caught the pig hunting bug three years ago. Oddie had held all of the pigs that he had caught up until recently when he bailed one so Anton was hoping that we could get him to bail. His other dog Tiger is from Vaughan Currie a well known pig hunter from the top of the South Island. Tiger is only a young dog and has only seen a couple of smaller pigs so has not bailed yet. Because Oddie was described as a pretty hard dog we put him on a rope before entering the training block.

Oddie starting to gail a bit more confidence as he gets in closer with Fog and Tiger

Oddie starting to gail a bit more confidence as he gets in closer with Fog and Tiger

I was using Fog to do the finding as I wanted to get the white boar bailed as he would be the best boar for a hard dog. I had seen the white boar before I went up and let Fog out of the kennel but when I was ready to enter the block he had disappeared leaving only Digger standing at the fence. I managed to get Fog to work past Digger and track away where I had last seen the white boar. Fog done well to track down into the creek and put up a bail. Because Fog was in a rough piece of the gully that I don’t normally get into I let Oddie off the rope and we watched him on the GPS as he seemed to go twenty meters past Fog and the pig. As we closed in Oddie had come back behind us and did not want anything to do with this boar.

Dogs bailing Digger

Dogs bailing Digger

We managed to get Tiger to give a couple of barks over the next thirty minutes before the boar broke out. Fog was right on him with Tiger giving chase but Oddie did not seem to want to do to much. Each time we got to a bail Oddie and Tiger started getting a wee bit keener especially when the boar broke each time. We were at about the third bail when I noticed Oddie had a poke in his side. He must have got this when he first went up to the boar and that was why he was so stand offish. At one bail Digger came down to see what fun he was missing out on so we had two bails going together. By the time we brought the dogs out of the block after two hours they had gained a lot of confidence and were no comparison to the same dogs two hours earlier. This gives me great satisfaction seeing dogs improve so much in such a short time.

Chris Gordon with two bitches Kim and Pip

Chris travelled down from Nelson where he works in the forestry. Both of Chris’s bitches are Lockley breed his older dog Kim is over four years old and Chris thinks that she may be targeting the smaller pigs when she is out hunting and she likes to hold them. His younger bitch Pip is twelve months old and needing more work on good pigs. For our first run we tried just Chris’s two dogs down in the small pig block with Mr Pig and Black and White. The two boars were resting up in their A frame shelter when we arrived with the dogs. We stood around for a few minutes but the dogs were not keen on doing any thing as they seemed to not be to sure of what they were allowed to do so I had to go up and get Lightning to help encourage the other two dogs to start barking. Once Lightning opened up the other two started to get the hang of things. This was a good run with the two bitches gaining a lot of confidence. Next we took the dogs for a run up the hill beside the motorbike to see the sheep. Both dogs performed well with no problems and we had a lot of sheep walking around us.

Pip and Kim bailing the black and white boar

Pip and Kim bailing the black and white boar

On our second run in the main block Fog tracked away and put up a bail on a number of pigs as we could hear them all talking to each other. When the other dogs arrived Kim singled out one of the small pigs and had it down in the scrub squealing. At the time she was wearing a muzzle so she could not do any real damage to the pig and I was quick to give her a shock on the collar which had her coming off quickly, no harm done. Fog ended up coming back to me which may have been because he heard the small pig squeal and he knows that the boss does not like hearing a pig squeal. From here we went for a walk up the gully hopping to give the dogs a chance to have a look around to see if they could find a pig. This time the tables were turned as it was the pig that found us. We were standing around having a yarn when we heard Digger coming down through the scrub towards us. The dogs had a good bail on Digger for a while before we called the dogs off and ended this run. While we were giving the dogs a break we went for a walk down to the waterfall which is right at my gate and a great attraction that is well known by a lot people. The weather was not overly warm so I could not convince Chris to jump off.

Kim, Pip and Fog bailing Digger while Chris gets a photo

Kim, Pip and Fog bailing Digger while Chris gets a photo

After tea the white boar had turned up so I put Fog in after him and the dogs had a good bail going down in the gully but we were quickly running out of day light so I called Fog back off to see if the other two bitches might stay down there with the boar on their own but it was not to be they did not stay to long after Fog had disappeared on them. For me to call any of my dogs off a pig I do not even have to say a word, all I do is push the button on the collar that makes a buzzing noise and that dog will stop doing what it is doing and return straight back to me and they will quite happily sit back with me and watch the other dogs carry on bailing, to me this is great control as I only need to give one command at any time and the dog will go straight back in and help out. This is one of the most important parts of training any dog is having a dog there that is under good command and knows what job you want the dog to do. A couple of times when Fog was sitting back with us and the other two came off the bail to come back to us I only needed to whistle Fog straight back to the boar to carry on bailing, this gets the other dogs to go back to the boar and learn to stay with the pig a bit longer.
Next morning we walked right around the main pig block with Fog, Kim and Pip and could not find a single pig. It had rained during the night which must have washed away all of the scent. So we resorted back to the small pig block and bailed Black and white. This was a good bail to finish on as Chris had to drive all the way back to Nelson so he did not want to get away to late. I did have enough time to skin and bone out the 156 pound barrow that I caught two nights before so that Chris could see how I boned out my animals.

Late night hunt 156 pound barrow

Bill and Fog with the barrow

Bill and Fog with the barrow

Bryce was keen to come up for a night hunt as it was also a full moon. Bryce’s bitch Dusky is still out of action after her run in with the 188 pound boar so we were going to just use my two dogs Fog and Lightning. The day before this hunt I was out on the hill when I spotted a black pig with two white front feet trying to sneak out along the gully. He had heard the four wheeler as I tried to get in front of him. As I came back into the gully the pig that I thought was only about ninety pounds was making good time trying to get away from me. As I got the two dogs down into the gully Fog saw the boar eighty meters away. At this point I was confident that the pig was as good as in the bag. Fog went into a patch of bush about thirty seconds behind the pig and when he came out the other side he was about a minute behind. Some how the pig had gained on him. By this time Lightning was also tracking the two of them. Rather than follow them I ran back to the motor bike and headed in the direction of the dogs. When I turned the bike off and started walking I did not get far when Fog quite causally walked back to me as if there was no pig around. Lightning was also tracking back towards us. When I looked at the GPS I could see that the dogs had gone into a step part in the gully then turned around and tracked back to me so this pig must have jumped down some bluff system.

Barrow hanging up ready to be skinned and boned out

Barrow hanging up ready to be skinned and boned out

So here was Bryce and I the next night riding the bike out towards where I had last seen the black pig with white front feet. On the way Fog caught a pig that sounded to be about fifty pounds so I gave the dogs a tone on the collar and they returned back to us without harming that pig to much. When we were about to go over the top on the bike I stayed back and let Bryce walk down the track for about one km giving the dogs time to work right down to were I had lost the pig the day before. All this time the dogs just did not seem interested. On the way back Bryce said that he would do another walk out in the block beside the track while I waited back on the bike until he was well ahead. He got out to three hundred meters when Fog tracked off up into the hill above. I think that the pig must have been in this gully as Fog stopped for almost a minute with out a bark which is what he normally does to settle a pig down before starting to bail. When he took off out of the gully he was covering a good twenty meters every 2.5 seconds until he got out to seven hundred meters and put up a real good bail. From where I was I knew that it was a waste of time me trying to run to this bail as Bryce was already three hundred meters in front of me so I just sat back on the bike and listened to that great sound of a dog bailing a good pig. I watched the GPS as Lightning closed in on the bail.

This barrow had a good layer of fat on him

This barrow had a good layer of fat on him

He slowly approached the last couple of meters and joined in with out putting any extra pressure on the pig. I had Bryce’s hand piece paired with mine so I could see him closing in on the action. From where I was I could see Bryce’s torch turn on then a shot ring out almost at the same time. The barking stopped as soon as the shot went off so I knew that Bryce had hit the pig so I rode the bike along the track to the closest place that I cold get for the carry out. Bryce shot this pig at 2.15 am and said that the dogs had him bailed real nice in some matogouri and he got a clean shot into the barrows head as he was a boar with no nuts and it was probably the same pig that I saw the day before but it was a bit bigger than I thought. It was easy to tie a piece of string around the pigs jaw and drag him down off the hill down to the creek. Bryce had a carry up from the creek to the bike and he thought that it was over 140. Back at home he went 156 on the scales so we got a quick photo then Bryce headed home as it was now after 4 am and Bryce had jobs to do that day.

Training session at home, learning boundary’s

A big part of training our pig dogs should be done at home so that by the time we take our young dog out for a hunt it is willing to listen to us. This piece of footage not only shows training the dogs to listen but also how to create a mental boundary rather than a physical boundary. I recently had a client who witnessed a dog crawling under the gate to get into my section. He said to me that I should either lower my gate or fill in the gap below it so that the dogs could not get through. This is the mentality that a lot of people use. If we think about people in town when their dog escapes from their section they look for the hole in the fence and fix that spot. Any dog that wants to escape will more than likely find another place to get out. Another side of this is that when the dog escapes the owner has to catch the dog to put them back. For a dog this is interaction and dogs are always seeking attention so the process just escalates.
I personally don’t like to use physical boundary’s as I prefer a psychological boundary. The paddock that my dog kennels are in is about eighty acres of scrub with no fences within that eighty acres so if the dogs wanted to go off wandering then they could do so. Because of the large boundary’s I have certain dogs that can not be let out of their kennels without a tracking collar on them. On one side of their block is the pig block and the dogs know that they are not allowed to enter this block without my permission even though they regularly listen to the boars fighting on a daily basis. On the other side of the block is bush and every now and then a wild pig may think that he can come into my gully for a feed. This is when my dogs are most likely to track off for the day, hence the need for tracking collars. Whenever I am at home for the day I like to leave the dogs off to run around and enjoy themselves. Quite regularly I will see them sleeping under the pine tree in the shade with half a dozen sheep.
To teach my dogs a mental boundary can be done in one of two ways. First when the dog comes through I can put the dog back while repeating the command down the back. If the dog should try and come back through then I have the electric collar. How the electrics are used depends on the dog and weather they already know what the collar can do. If the dog has had a shock from the collar previously then I should only need to push the button that makes a sound and at the same time I would reinforce with my voice in a serious tone, down the back. For most well mannered dogs they click on to this very quickly. Other not so well trained dogs that keep wanting to come through I can go and put them in a dog kennel and they soon realise that all of the other dogs are left to run around, this way I am working with their minds.

Boning out a sheep

Living in the country means that I can provide my own meat and not just wild pork. I had two black sheep out with my ewes, one ram and a wether, that’s a ram with no nuts. Because of the time of the year I needed to get them away from the ewes so that they would not become pregnant and have lambs in the winter months. When I had them in the yards I grabbed the ram to drag out and dag before putting him in the pig block. While dragging him out the wether charged me right into the side of my leg and hell it hurt, but it did make cutting his throat a lot easier.

Sheep covered with a Ridgeline meat bag. Great for keeping flies off the meat.

Sheep covered with a Ridgeline meat bag. Great for keeping flies off the meat.

Years ago I worked at Fortex silverstream down by Dunedin as a boner, saw man. This taught me a great skill about boning out animals which I still do regularly today. At the works our shift would cut up 5225 sheep per eleven hour shift so it does not take long to become quick at the job. I learnt how to kill, skin and gut a sheep when I first started working on farms over 33 years ago.

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