A stitch in time

“Sorry, can’t come, I’ve got a headache”—uh-huh, that’s an oldie and somewhat overused.

“I’ve been awake all night, really tired, sorry won’t be able to make it”—awww, are you tired? Me too—always!

“There’s wintry weather forecast, don’t want to get a cold”—oh dear me, no, couldn’t have that could we.

This morning’s excuse from a person I’d invited is, “But it’s raining.”

So it is, light rain, no breeze, poor visibility and bloody cold too. Not ideal hunting conditions when you’re running dogs but when you are a genuine pig-dogger and you have just one day, then no headache, yawn-fest or sniffle will stop you getting out and amongst it.

I’m alone then, aside from my canine mates, as I exit my ute and drag on my wet weather gear. Despite the damp and the chill, I’m happy to be out and in such company. Keen and honest, my dogs don’t get headaches or fear a forecast less than perfect.

In no time at all I’m wet to the skin, blinking the salty combination of sweat and rainwater from my eyes. Steam rises from me as my hard-working muscles produce heat and each exhalation is a plume of moisture-laden-silver. Yes, it’s cold, but what’s not to love:the silence, the sweet scent of douglas fir, the eye contact and tail wags of loyal pig dogs.

After a long trek through mature pine and firs, I break out into younger trees. Pearl is away and Chop and Nugget have picked up the pace. The cloud is so low I cannot see anything bar the closest of views but I press on, a route in mind, which will take us through piginfested country.

Pearl makes a comeback but only momentarily. She begins to circle, nose to the ground, desperately trying to lock on to a hot scent and a single trail. A quick glimpse at my tracker shows the boys are straight lining in the opposite direction. I try to get Pearl’s attention, to get her straight lining after her mates, but she’ll have none of it. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do and this old girl is beginning her own journey right this very instant.

Far below me I hear Chop bark, his language is telling me, “Boar on but not behaving.”

He and Nugget are struggling, perhaps a pig too big to comfortably hold but too aggressive or agitated to bail.

Time is critical. A glance at the tracker shows Pearl contouring away very rapidly. She will not hear the boys, nor come to their aid. If I leave her, I will not hear her when she catches her pig, nor will I come to her aid. Well, she hasn’t caught her quarry yet, so I opt for the ‘bird in the hand,’ a descent of hundreds of metres to the boys and boar in a life and death struggle.

The first obstacle between us is a defunct barbedwire fence interwoven with lawyer and porcupine shrubs. Believing I’ll save five minutes going over it instead of around it, I scale the topside and awkwardly leap off the wobbly wire. Not the most dignified dismount of my lifetime— and not very clever either. A long rusty barb of sharpened wire punctures the joint of my little finger; I’ve become snagged, yeeow!

Who would believe such a small puncture could hurt so much. But it does and when I free my pinkie, it bleeds and bleeds. There is not a moment to waste though and self-sympathy is in short supply.

The route ahead is gnarly and steep. Rain piddles down and every branch I grab to prevent headlong somersaults or uncontrolled nosedives then douses me with even more water. Hidden rocks lie in wait and poor wee pinkie drips blood all the while.

As I approach the boys, Chop’s bail barks are squeaky with desperation. He and Nugget are exhausted, but they cannot catch their breath nor let up. The moment Nugget releases his grip, the boar begins to jog away. Even in the short time it takes me to close the final gap, to clear my rifle scope of water and debris, the boar makes another 20 metres.

Sensing I am here, Nugget goes to work once more. He grabs the fleeing boar by the hock, turning it before the pair of them rise onto their hind legs, each trying to dominate the other. They topple over and crash into a wild currant bush atop a high bank. A quiet word to Nugget, I ask him to release his grip and give me my time. The scope is blurred, the target indistinct, but the rifle is familiar and accurate.

The boys and I catch our breaths but only for the time it takes me to rouse the tracking device from its pouch. Sure enough, Pearl is showing as ‘treed’ high up on a densely vegetated ridge above us. So now it is me who begins to jog, the small shuffling steps of the knackered, the saturated and chaps-chafing—the woman weighted with wares and gear and worry.

Alas, my best intentions are in vain. High above Pearl had heard the rifle shot, the resounding boom and dampened echo that followed. Reluctantly she turned her back on her quarry and came our way. There is a reunion a while later, me and three bedraggled and bloodied buddies go back to the dead boar and he is then disemboweled and dragged out to the road—a happy ending bar the pinkie, which, ultimately, cost far more time than the five minutes saved today.

Share this post :


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Create a new perspective on life

Your Ads Here (365 x 270 area)
Latest Stories

Subscribe our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates direct to your inbox.


Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates direct to your inbox.