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HUNTING SMARTER - REEVESY

BRISTLE UP_POSTED_BY uhunt     Feb 1    

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HUNTING SMARTER - BY STEVE REEVES
from issue 23 Bristle Up Magazine - get the latest issue in stores now issue 24.

Editors Note:
I have always called Reevesy the Boar Terminator. I call him this because he doesn’t just rely on his dogs to find pigs and he doesn’t give up or back down. He puts in the hours and effort to do his recon on his pigs and will catch pigs in areas that many others can’t. I’ve asked Reevesy to share some of his methods to help you increase your catch rate.

There used to be a time where you could ring your mate up, plate the dogs up, fuel your ute up and head out knowing you were going to have a good night of pig catching. These days, it’s more pig chasing then pig catching. You spend a lot more time trying to figure out their movements and times and locations then you do actually catching them. This has made hunting a lot harder and it has also made training dogs a lot harder than it used to be. This makes every pig you catch more rewarding. There is a lot more pressure on the pigs these days in many areas, whether it be regular chopper shoots, full time bait stations, trapping, exclusion fences or of course more hunters. The pigs that survive all these measures seem to adapt, getting smarter than they have ever been. This leaves some tough, nasty and smart boars getting around and you can no longer simply drive around hoping for the best, not if you want to catch them. These smarter pigs will teach new pigs their tricks and even though numbers are lower there will always be a small population of pigs, that can only be caught by well-trained pig dogs and a hunter that studies his country and prey.  I’m going to share some of my experience hunting pigs with you and hopefully help some hunters increase their catch rate.

They hear a chopper and run for cover and lay in the thickest scrub, or see a light or smell dogs and bolt. They also learn to be trap shy by something as little as the door you have on your trap falling too hard or smelling your scent or dogs scent near the trap and being spooked. Pigs that have a lot of hunting pressure are learning things like to feed close to the edge of the paddock or near the thickest stuff around. They may only venture further in to (for example) a crop paddock after harvest because they are not getting enough tucker quickly enough from the edge. They are getting in and filling up as soon as they can and leaving, they are mixing up their times as well which makes it a lot harder. Understanding their patterns could help you have a better success rate in those high pressure areas, I know there is still plenty of country out there without the pressure but it will eventually slow down. I don't need to tell or show what pigs do, it's easy everything has to eat and drink. It's mostly about getting the timing right, learning how to track them, how to work a mob, where you hit them and where they will head to next. Having the right dogs is essential and being more visual and thinking about when and where the pigs will be. Technology has come a long way especially with the way of training and tracking collars and also trail cameras. As you know, the old school way was to put a couple of hounds on the back and cruise around… they leave the ute or you see a pig and you’re on.

If you couldn't keep up, you listened or drove north south east west to find them. GPS has made things so much easier, quicker and safer. Your dog could have a pig way out in the paddock and now we can look at a tracker and see exactly where he is and the fastest and best way to get to him, without wasting time. Another time saver is trail cameras, these things are great. Not only do they give you times, dates and pictures, but you see what size and numbers are actually coming past that camera. Where you place the camera is the most important decision. If you’re lucky enough to have 3G service on your block you can use a 3G trail camera and get photos to your phone in real time. There’s a few old school tricks I used to use and I showed others over my years of hunting. We caught hundreds of pigs and plenty of tonners. We used to catch at least one or two tonners a week sometimes five or more, it’s no longer like that. Even years back there was always that one big fella that you were keen to get, I was like an old pig dog hitting a mob with my eye on the big fella. Now those really good boars are often not easy come by. I would spend hours driving around knowing he was going to come in but not wanting to frighten him before he got there. I didn't let the dogs on the ground running around leaving scent. because if he smelled them or even saw a light he would retreat and not come in that night. So I used to pull up about 100 metres downwind of the pad and wait; the dogs would let me know when he came along. I have done the same with many good mobs over the years, even now. If I’ve hit the spot a couple of times and haven’t hit them and it's near the end of the night, I’d pull up and wait and they would come to you… if they were going there every night, you will hit them. Patience and knowing your country and how your pigs travel is key.

Before trail cameras were a thing sometimes I would tape a small battery operated clock to a fence post or tree where the pad was and put a thin trip wire across the ground onto a ribbon around the battery. The pigs would come in, trip the line and the battery comes out so the clock stops. Now you have their time. I’d go there fifteen minutes or half an hour after that time, they would be out feeding and you were on. Of course trail cameras make this method obsolete these days. One thing I can’t stress enough is to learn to read your dogs and know their hunting capabilities. You can get a rough time on how long you have missed pigs by simply reading your dogs. If you read your dogs, you can also get a sense for if the pigs have been in yet or not. Teach your dogs to hunt from the box and this reduces the amount of time they are on the ground leaving their scent around. Smarter pigs will smell your dog’s scent and if they haven’t come out of hiding yet and your dog has left its scent everywhere he might turn around and go back or change his times. For example, you drive into a property to check a deady, but the pigs haven’t come in yet so you might want to check it again later that night. By letting your dog’s run around it, that could put the smarter boars off. Every hunter sees signs of a big boar but may never see him or catch him. These are the boars I’m talking about. They are far from dumb, in fact they are very smart animals. If you get to the area an hour after the pigs leave and you have a good hunting dog, he may track them down and catch one. Unless you disturb the mob, chances are they will still come back to feed were your dog left the paddock from. However, if you hit them were they are feeding and stir them up that may move the rest of the mob from that area or change their times. If you’re going to hit a mob where they are feeding do your recon first and hit them hard the first time, because the more times you hit them, the more likely they won’t come back, at least for a while.

If your dog’s hit and lose an educated boar on good feeding grounds he may not return, but most boars will return eventually if they haven’t been grabbed by a holding dog. Some may not return for days or weeks, especially if they were hit hard. However, if a bailer hits him and loses a good boar there is a fair chance he thinks it’s just a wild dog or dingo. He would have had them annoy him in the past, so he will likely come back and you will get another shot at him. Every dog is different, and learning to understand and read your dog is very important. Put up trail cameras to help track those hard to catch boars, this is especially handy if you don’t get much hunting time in. Learn your country, where waters are, where feed is, where they are traveling and so on. You need to think like a boar; if he has been in for a feed and gone already he may be heading for a drink now so you might go and check a dam you know pigs have been coming to… then BAM! You got him. It’s all about thinking while you’re hunting instead of driving around hoping for the best. Study the country, the tracks and so on. Timing is the most important thing when hunting boars, if you can’t get that right, you will be relying on luck. I hope these tips will help some hunters, you’re never too young or old to learn new things. I know I am learning every day no matter how many years I have been hunting, there are always new challenges. We will be doing more on this subject and others in future issues. We all need to do our part in teaching future generation hunters right from wrong and how to be humane and ethical and how to hunt safely. Until next time good luck, and hunt hard.

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