It's illegal to shoot or trap buzzards so we made 'Underkeeper Dave' here:
I love making scarecrows - it reminds me of Fall in New England and seeing scarecrows with pumpkin heads sitting on porch benches. Sadly, this is my sole artistic endeavour for the week. And I had to lend Dave my best hi-vis waterproof coat. Neither of us know (or will admit) where the size 8 flowered wellies came from, but it lends Dave's outfit a bit of flair.
After our ride Mike went back to "check on the pheasants" (and sneak in a little fishing!) before dark. I was still thinking of those wild pigs we saw yesterday, and thought I would go sit in the high seat and see if they return to the field. It was a sunny evening and at worst, I could enjoy a few hours with the late afternoon sun and a beautiful view. I often bring my ipod and listen to books or the Craftlit podcast. I had been doing this for an hour when they appeared in the field, nearly under my feet - too close to get a shot and close enough that they winded me or heard me and trotted back into the woods. No matter, they may be back.
And they were, half an hour later, this time at a reasonable distance 100m or so away. I had a good look at Moby Pig - a sow as big as my quadbike. A half-bred for certain. She is the leader of this clan. Following on behind her were two ginger colored pigs, most likely sows as boars that size would have been pushed out of the group by the matriarch. And Moby Pig's 9 or 10 mini stripers maybe 6-8 weeks old.
At this point I saw Pete walking up the far hedge - he obviously had the same idea as me. He couldn't see me but I could see he was safely out of shot. I picked a barren ginger sow and dropped her in the field. Pete heard the shot and saw where I was. Now he might have a chance at the other ginger sow - he had a shotgun with rifled slug so needed to get much closer to be in range. I stayed loaded to back him up; he was on the ground and pigs, especially a big mom with youngsters, is likely to charge. Though not ideal, I could drop her if necessary, so I stayed on her.
The pigs were staying with their fallen friend. It's hard to watch, I'm never sure how much they are aware of. Research on elephants acknowledges that they grieve for their dead. Pigs are so smart, I don't think we should be quick to underestimate them.
But it's a trade-off. They're escaped domestic crosses which dilute the 'native' boar and do a tremendous amount of damage to crops. And it's meat, and I'm not a vegetarian.
Pete never got close enough. They winded him and ran back to the safety of the woods.
We bled and gralloched the pig, and loaded her into my quadbike and I drove home. Hunters on the continent often put a leafed branch in the pig's mouth as a sign of respect, like offering a last meal. I always try and show my quarry the utmost respect, and ensure the kill is quick and clean, to prevent suffering and ensure the most amount of meat is usable. This carcase will go to our estate stalker Paul for processing. Paul pays me in meat for the freezer.
Dakota always has to check out the trucks and quadbike when we return from a trip without her. Most dogs are afraid of pigs, and rightly so - a wounded pig that size could easily kill Dakota. It is one animal I hunt without the backup of a dog.
It looks like we'll be having wild pig for Christmas dinner then.