Water and shade - hog heaven

Hogs, Heat and Humidity

Gavin Adams is back with a hunting tale that warms more than just the heart, footslogging for results in blistering conditions.

To coin a Stan Coster line, “when the days are longer and hotter than hell, that’s why we all visit Three Rivers Hotel”. I admit being there or some hotel like it would be a better alternative to hunting in western Qld in 45 degree heat, being mobbed by swarms of bush flies or in N.Qld when the day temps hit the 40 degree mark with 90%+ humidity quickly sapping your strength and the old body warning, “Stop! Don’t walk another step!”

However these are also the times when the porkies and most other ferals park up close to any available watersource, especially if good shade is close by. If you want to find them in these locations then a-footslogging you must go in almost unbearable conditions but the rewards for persistence can certainly justify the effort, providing you maintain your water intake. On two recent hunting trips, in W estern and N. Qld, these were the conditions we encountered, but having grown up in both locations I guess I was fairly well acclimatized to the conditions.

Some of the areas we were hunting can see a fair volume of vehicle traffic so driving these tracks is not a good option as the ferals are too smart to be caught out in the open especially in daylight. So the only alternative was to lace up the trusty boots and go bush stalking, checking out all good shade areas close to water. The first couple of days we spend locating the haunts, usually hunting through the entire day, but after two days of this, the body says “Enough!” It’s then time for Plan B which involves rising at around 4am and hunting until 11am because after that, the intense heat in the middle of the day here in November/December makes walking almost unbearable. So with the morning hunt done it’s back to camp to fire up the BBQ and enjoy good feed (this period also gives Mike a chance to start consuming his customary 10+ cans of Coke a day). Then it’s time to act like a hog and lie up in the shade until around 4pm. We hunt on foot until approximately 7pm when it’s nearly time for spotlighting. Depending on what we encounter, we usually return to camp around 1am. These hours make for long hard days and by the end of the week the old feet and body have had enough, but the rewards are worth it and we wait for the next opportunity to do it all over again.

Day 1 began with Carl, Mike, Paul and myself rendezvousing at the NQ station after a 1000km drive. Following a yarn with the manager it’s time to set up camp, then on to an afternoon drive checking out sign.

On Day 2 we put in some big walks coming across good mobs of pigs, Carl and Mike being first on the board with four nice sows.

Day 3 saw plenty of “live action” with Mike taking out the hog of the trip with a nice 100kg plus boar. He fell to a long shot from the 45.70 Marlin but the highlight of the day was Carl’s 200m shot with the .300 magnum on a running wild dog. This capped off a good day as these dogs were beginning to harass the calves.

Day 4 started well with Mike taking out a good boar around 4.30am on our way to begin a walk. This was another terrific Magnum shot around 160m from the back of the Hilux – the perfect head shot. That afternoon Mike decided to stake out a dam in the hope of getting more wild dogs. At around 7pm he was rewarded with a large bitch and a three-quarter grown pup coming in for a drink. Both fell to the Magnum at a distance of 120m.

Day 5 saw my son Paul getting into the action with seven nice pigs succumbing to his pump action 308 Remington, two of these producing the tusks of the trip. After returning to camp to boil down the jaws we left them for the meat ants to provide the finishing touch.

It was then time to prepare for the night’s spotlighting run, which usually takes around five hours depending on what’s around. Paul decided to use my .270 Parker Hale loaded with 130gm Remington Core Lokt and Mike took his Marlin. The night’s run ended around 1am with one cat falling to the 45.70 and six to the .270! This may seem overgunned for cats however you never know what will appear in the spotlight. All these shots were in scrub country around watercourses at distances of over 100m.

Personally I don’t care what calibre takes out these furball disasters as long as they are dead quickly and believe me, they were. On further examination we found they were dining out on native frogs and native geckos with the odd ground bird for dessert. These ginger and grey-striped ferals were in prime condition with their coats thick and shiny. They are definitely evolving, with their teeth at least twice as big as their backyard cousins. I guess their diet of 100% protein and the exercise involved in hunting their prey makes for a larger, leaner and more muscular specimen than those that lie around the house getting fat on processed food.

Day 6 began later after a long night spotlighting, but the Machine (“I love guns and Coke”) Mike was up as usual at 4am and off on his own to check out a couple of waterholes, returning around 10am, having dusted a couple of nice pigs. The rest of the day was taken with packing in readiness for the long trip home the following day, however we had one remaining night to spotlight. From 7.30pm shooting produced more cats and a pig, all falling to Paul and the 270. Next morning we broke camp around 6am, seeing Paul and me home at 6pm.

Reminiscing the next day, we calculated the week’s tally at 40 pigs, 3 wild dogs and 13 cats. We were more than pleased with these results considering that the area was culled by choppers a few weeks before our arrival and knowing that some of our native animals may get the chance to live a little longer, growing their population. Hogs and heat – can’t beat it! I am eagerly awaiting next year. Roll on, summer, roll on.




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