Day 8

My last hunting post was so long I was afraid no one would actually read the whole damn thing. Hey, looks like some of you got through it, but it did take way too long to write, so here's to shorter more frequent posting.

Day 8 was just me and the Baron again, in the area with the low palms, going after that elusive big one. The wind was blowing at gale force from the day before, so strong that it closed the Aqualine bridge over Tokyo bay. I had to take the long way around through miles of bay traffic. A day with wind like this can mean a lot of things for hunting.

I often contemplate the recent weather and other details as I get my gear out of the truck and get Baron strapped up. It's a habit. So the wind... strong and gusty will blow scents all over the place. Since Baron and I hunt from high ground, I imagine it's easier for him when we hunt on non windy days. As the morning sun starts to warm the air, it rises toward us on the ridge. When there are no fresh scents on the ground, Baron spends a lot of the time tasting the air as we walk. He has a habit now of stopping above ravines and pointing his body into the breeze for a few seconds. I can only imagine what it must be like to have a canine sense of smell, to filter out all the environmental smells, the non prey, and zero in on the boar.

So does this mean we're at a disadvantage on windy days? Not necessarily I guess. Boar don't seem to like sleeping on windy slopes, they prefer the sheltered gullies on windy days. That makes picking spots easier. Also, all that noise of the wind blowing the trees around really covers the noise that Baron and I make, and puts our scent all over the place as well.

Well with the intense wind we had the other day, I soon realized that if the boar couldn't hear me coming, I couldn't hear them either. It was actually a bit freaky to realize that I use my sense of sound a lot to figure out what's going on with Baron and the mountain critters. On a windy day, the boar could charge to within a few feet of me and I wouldn't hear them coming.

As it went, we checked the low palms, but there was way too much wind blowing through that ravine. We tracked back through the area we had chased the pigs into last week, and around an hour in, Baron was on a hot track. Baron picked up speed, nose to the ground, running patterns around me and just below. I thought maybe the boar had hightailed it already, but then Baron was off, around 100 meters below and to the right. I was following slowly and quietly, and then heard Baron's loud deep bay. He was there for around 20 seconds barking while I tried to close distance, but then moved toward the left and stopped. The baying started again. I got to within 20 meters, but the boar was under a crest and I couldn't get a line, though I could see Baron perfectly. At 20 meters, the boar decided to bolt, luckily it ran toward and below me. It was a big one, 70kg class, but at full speed I had one chance at a shot and didn't quite line it up.

At least this time I had enough composure (probably helped that I wasn't being charged) to line up the sights, realize I was high, and realign. Well Baron was off after the boar, and unfortunately the route it took was pretty straight and away so I couldn't catch up. Baron kept on him for around 600 meters before losing him. I caught up, and we followed the track for a bit, but I've found that rather than chasing a boar that's already decided it wants to run from you, the odds are better to just move on and find another boar. This we did. We had ended up in the mountain where we took the little boar on day 2, and all I've seen since then on that side have been little tracks and digs.

Sure enough, little tracks and digs it was. There's a hiking trail back there, so we walked that for a ways, then I picked a ridge to the left to hunt. We had gone probably around 100 meters when Baron picked up fresh scent. He moved downhill around 15 meters and started doing patterns, I could tell from watching him all day that he realized he needed to be careful in this wind, as he could stumble right into a boar if he didn't pay attention. It was a small boar, a 15kg male. It got up as Baron moved in and barked, and just as it started to look like a runner, I popped one shot off. Another clean head shot. A slug at close range is a powerful thing.

I strapped the little guy onto my pack, and then carried him for 4km out of the mountain, all the while thinking that it was terrific to have such a little boar since I was out there alone. I've carried big game long distances before, and it ain't fun. Walking out on the hiking trail since that was easier, we met a local gentleman who thanked us for getting the boar. Baron was his usual friendly self while the gentleman and I talked about the mountains, the boar population, crop damage etc. Baron and I set off again, and he did pick up a trail again right at the bottom of the mountain around 50 meters from the road. I saw him hightail it into more low palms, and two little boar came running out with Baron in tow. They ran into dense shrubbery and lost Baron pretty quickly.

So we ended up at home after walking 13km (me) and 22km (Baron). I left the little boar whole after skinning and gutting as I've always wanted to BBQ a boar whole, and this little one was the perfect candidate. Looks like I'll be stuck in Tokyo this week and weekend wrapping up work before the end of the year, but next week it will be all mountains again. Baron's learning and progressing with each trip out there, and it's a pleasure to see him adjusting to everything the mountains throw at us.

And yeah, I lost my brand new iPhone 2 weeks ago so no pictures. I finally dragged my ass down and picked up a new phone yesterday. Ouch.