Stephen Barnes lets the dogs out.

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Shooting|September 2022

I had for many years read in olde English hunting books of the 'Lurchers' bred by the poachers for poaching of old for hunting Royal game on privileged estates.

In early 2019 whilst I was executing my 60th year plan to shoot 52 'English Gun Makers shotguns' I received a call from Matt in Victoria, Australia with a request?

As he couldn't come himself as an invited guest, would I host 2 of his friends from Victoria who are very keen doggers? We discussed them and it quickly became evident that Mark & Blue were 'GOOD KEEN MEN' prepared to travel across Australia to hunt!

The Answer was YES, and plans commenced for them to come and  hunt in August when the waterways had substantially dried up reducing pig habitat. A weekend in mid August was chosen and shortly before their arrival I secured permission from the pastoralist to hunt the river for pigs.

I had KB staying with me in Halls Creek, a long term friend of 38 years, who would play a part in this quest. KB visiting from the Northern Territory has very good technical skills for reloading and loaded up a batch of 'LOW PRESSURE' SG 'OO' buckshot. As I was shooting a 'Ward & Sons' low pressure shotgun this weekend, these special LP SG buckshot were exactly what was required.

Mark and Blue arrived on Friday as prearranged and we set out plans on how to execute the hunt the next day. One of my very real concerns was the 'SAFETY' of the team of 4 dogs; pastoralists tend to 1080 dingo bait around lagoons and waterways. I suggested that Matt and Blue control two dogs each on a leash so that they could pull the dogs away should we come across a 1080 bait.

We were off early Saturday morning & travelled without incident to the river to be hunted, arriving early at a section I rarely hunt. The dogs were uncaged and allowed to briefly run around to do their business, then were harnessed up in shields with tracking collars.

We worked the main stretch of the river and, whilst there were recent tracks and wallows, we were unsuccessful of contact. Then we hunted up a joining watercourse hoping they might be up there ,as sign was GOOD here also, but to no avail. The morning was getting on and the temperature was climbing which doggers are always wary of! (Dogs die from heat stroke).

This called for a change in plan, so we pulled back to the Great Northern Highway and drove north to intercept the river upstream.

Going to a different area, dogs out and same routine of running around and then harnessing up and putting onto leashes. This time KB was feeling a bit knocked up and elected to stay at the 4X4 whilst we hunted this section of river.

Again when we walked in to the river we experienced fresh sign but still no pigs! I organised with Matt and Blue to scout out front and yell if I contacted pig/s upon which they'd release the dogs. We covered only about 400 metres of river and I flushed a young boar pig from a dry sand bed, almost shooting it as it rose on instinct!

Fortunately I stopped just on the point of firing and yelled out to Matt and Blue "PIG", the dogs knew what was up and almost dragged both of them OFF their feet! I ran after the boar and within seconds the dogs caught me up and were straight onto the scent trail, they overtook me knowing the job ahead of them.

The boar pig only made about another 200 metres before the dogs caught him and psychically restrained him with GREAT gusto. We arrived at this melee of pandemonium of dogs growling and boar pig squealing and Mark took control quickly.

He grabbed the boar pig's hind legs and turned it onto it's back whilst Blue was pulling off the dogs and leashing them to a tree.
I must admit that Mark and Blue are an efficient team with the dogs, as everything was under control very quickly, except the squealing boar was now being restrained by a MAN!

Mark gave me the warning he was about to release the boar pig and I readied with the 'Ward & Sons' charged with KB's LP SG buckshot.
He released the boar pig and simultaneously the boar pig rolled and was halfway to his feet when I shot him behind the shoulder, back down he went not requiring a second shot..

Fortunately, Blue had been taking some photo's of all the action leading up to the kill, and now we had the final photo with dogs and the vanquished boar.

I was shouldering a small day pack with sharp boning knife and diamond steel sharpener, plus plastic bags and water for this. I butchered the young boar, removing all the usable meat to deliver back in Halls Creek on a charitable meat run, even with a few bite bruises! I must say that on light pork the bite bruising is really highlighted against the light-coloured meat.

The dogs were HAPPY, the hunters were HAPPY, and the pig was in the bag, a GOOD outcome in a marginal pig hunting area on desert fringes.

We elected to return to Halls Creek and regroup for a safari out into the Great Sandy Desert after Scrub Bulls and Dromedaries with a .416 John Rigby rifle.

Mark tells me that,"A Lurcher is bred from a female Border Collie crossed with a Staghound dog."

Apparently if you cross a male Border Collie with Staghound bitch you don't get a 'Lurcher', just like a stallion Horse over a jenny Donkey dosen't produce a Mule.

The PLAN was well executed and successful, more IMPORTANTLY we kept the four dogs SAFE from the dreaded dingo 1080 baits.
We all played our part: KB reloader, I the hunter, Matt and Blue doggers and the four dog team, it truly was a team EFFORT with team rewards.


In Britain the term 'dogger' refers to enthusiasts of a very different activity.

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Shooting|September 2022

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