Hunting season opened on the 15th, and I racked up 43km's of walking in the first 3 days. It was tiring, had its ups and downs, but I feel pretty good coming out of it.
Day 1 was some group hunting, something I don't do much of, but circumstances being what they were, I dutifully tagged along. Baron and I had the honors, and pressure, of walking the mountain and flushing out game toward ambushes. That was definitely a first for us, and the first time I'd ever walked this particular area. There ended up being no boar, but there were plenty of deer, and one of the hunters bagged one of them. We switched areas for round 2, I walked the long ridge with Baron, and a friend of mine walked the shorter with his Kishu female. A troop of monkeys got in our way early on, but we flushed some deer as well. They managed to skillfully elude the ambushers. On the other ridge there were a couple of deer flushed, and a boar, but they all vanished into the mountain as well. For the last round of the day we ran another gentleman's hound. That was interesting to say the least as there's nothing quite like listening to the bay of a hound bouncing around in the mountain for an hour. Nothing came of it though, and my brother found the sound to be appropriately soothing and managed to take a nap while on ambush duty.
So at the end of day 1 Baron was pretty tired out, I was tired, but we were in decent shape. Group hunting though is really not my thing, there's way too much waiting around for everyone else, and then having to walk the mountain in a pre-decided fashion. There was an unexpected development, a negative actually. In round 1 when Baron flushed the deer, I saw him charge down the face of the mountain to where it was hiding. Just as it flushed, one of the ambushers fired the shot that took it down. Gunfire has never bothered Baron before, but it's always been me doing the firing. I think the first shot of the year, and the unexpected direction it came from startled him, and it came back to bite us later.
Day 2 I took my brother and two of my other friends to a different area. As we were driving up the mountain a small boar bolted across the road in front of the car. We nearly hit it, pulled over, rushed to get the dogs in gear, and then we let Baron and Rome tear after it. I got the last bits of my gear together and ran uphill toward the sound of Baron baying. Unfortunately when I didn't show up right away, he started coming back down. When he ran into me, I encouraged him back uphill, and he and Rome took off on the boar's trail. A couple hundred meters up, the baying started again, and when I got close I could see/hear multiple boar uphill. The scene was a bit of a mess, the dogs a bit confused, and the boars ran over the top of the ridge with the dogs following. Rome was pretty much just having fun running with Baron, and looking a bit unsure about what was going on. The boars never did stop after that, and the dogs lit off after them for another half kilometer before coming back.
The rest of the morning we did a lot of serious climbing in some serious terrain without running into any game. We broke for lunch, an outdoor boar BBQ that really hit the spot. After lunch I decided to hit the area near the dam where we had been in the afternoon the day before. We got there about 1, and headed into the first ridge and released the dogs. They almost immediately took off on track, Baron toward the left, and Rome the right, at high speed. There's a spot where the mountain slopes down near the path around the dam, and since I didn't want the dogs going that way I sent my brother and friend that direction. As I took off after the dogs, I could hear Baron baying in the distance, and from the tracks it looked like he was on a decent sized boar. At the same time a troop of monkeys were freaking out in the trees about the dogs running through, and I wasn't sure what Rome was up to. As I hurried toward Baron, I realized Rome was coming back toward me on the slope just across, at full speed. Glancing around 40 meters ahead of him I saw the deer he was chasing. I'm not usually a deer hunter, but decided to take one for the freezer, so lined up the sights, figured I'd miss a deer bounding at full speed anyway, and fired. The deer half tripped, ran another 50 meters or so with me and Rome in pursuit, then dropped. It was a perfect shot. Rome was pretty happy with himself, but I had to get to Baron, and get help to get the deer out. All in all, three hours later we had the dogs rounded up, venison packed in the cooler, and were headed home.
Day 3 I hunted the same area alone, and immediately ran into deer. The dogs spent some time bringing them around toward me, but the trees made for an impossible shot. After the dogs came back, we moved further into the mountain and I saw Baron freeze and look down into a gulley. I followed his eye and saw the boar, as Baron charged down the slope, the boar got up, and I had time for one good shot. Unfortunately the boar moved just then and all the shot did was graze him. Here I saw the after effect of the gunshot on day 1. Baron stopped chasing the boar, just as he had the deer on day 1. When I got to where the boar had been it took a bit of excitement and coaxing to get him to start tracking again. We managed to track the boar for a couple hundred meters, and Baron flushed him. As he was chasing, I had another clean shot, so took it. Same result. Baron stopped chasing. We tracked that boar for a good 3 hours after that, but he stayed ahead of us the whole time. After that, we had the long trudge out of the mountain. Rome was so wiped, we had to keep stopping to let him rest. He'd lay down as soon as we'd stop, and settle in for a nap lol.
We had a good time over those three days, there's a good amount of meat in the freezer, and a couple good stories, but now I'm going to have to work with Baron on the gun shyness. Rome on the other hand, well that hard headed Shikoku doesn't give a rat's ass about gunfire. I took some pictures of the dogs, and will post them later.