Ups and downs in 60 years on the hunt

Taieri District Pig Hunting Club president Brandon Young, of Mosgiel, and his pig dogs Ice and...
Taieri District Pig Hunting Club president Brandon Young, of Mosgiel, and his pig dogs Ice and Egg. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
Pig hunting can be an emotional pursuit.

Taieri District Pig Hunting Club life member Ross Stevens (74), of Wingatui, said he began pig hunting more than 60 years ago, killing his first pig at the age of 12.

"One you hear a pig squealing and a dog barking, the adrenaline starts pumping and it doesn’t matter what’s in front of you."

The most enjoyable part of the sport was putting in the hours breeding and training a dog and watching it improve until it catches its first pig.

"It’s awesome — I still get the thrill now."

The worst feeling was when a dog was killed by a wild boar.

"It hurts — especially when you are carrying him in your arms and he dies on the way."

A good dog was hard to replace, he said.

Taieri District Pig Hunting Club secretary Xshikarna Harvey, of Mosgiel, carries a boar on her...
Taieri District Pig Hunting Club secretary Xshikarna Harvey, of Mosgiel, carries a boar on her back after a successful day’s hunting at Kuri Bush. PHOTO: CATHY BURT

Club president Brandon Young, of Mosgiel, owns seven pig dogs — Egg, Ice, Monkey, Po, Squirt, Tonka and Turk.

"You put a lot of effort into your dogs and you get attached to them — they are part of you, you are a team and when you lose one it leaves a hole."

About four years ago, a club member lost four dogs when hunting on a cold day on the Taieri.

A boar being chased by the dogs swam across Taieri River.

The four dogs were swept down the river and all drowned after floating underneath a sheet of frozen ice.

Mr Stevens (74), of Wingatui, said when he started in the sport, wild pigs in Otago were "big, sloppy and slow" because the bloodline often included some "liberated" domesticated pig.

The exception was Whare Flat which was down to "tough" Captain Cooker pigs and thick gorse.

"You’d be coming out looking like a ripped up pig dog."

Often the biggest challenge of the sport was getting a pig home, Mr Stevens said.

"You’re a piss-poor hunter if you leave a pig on a hill — it doesn’t matter how big it is."

The biggest frustration of the modern age of the sport was hunters photographing their dogs holding on to a live boar.

"Their dogs are working their guts out and they’re taking photographs.

"In my day, your first instinct was to get down there and help your dogs, but the modern pig hunter is a bit different to the old school."

Mr Stevens said the club was formed in 1993, after pig hunters wanted to open the channels of communication with forestry companies.

Wild pigs were "very destructive" and dug up large blocks of land searching for grubs and worms, and ate lambs on farms.

Farmers contacted the club after spotting wild pigs on their properties, he said.

The club had about 40 members, aged between 5 and 74, who were a mix of men and women, including Mr Young’s fiance Xshikarna Harvey.

"She’s a mad keen pig hunter — she loves her dogs and she love the lifestyle," Mr Stevens said.


The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
Mahatma Gandhi

For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.

Never believe that animals suffer less than humans. Pain is the same for them that it is for us. Even worse, because they cannot help themselves.
Louis J. Camuti

What an uplifting story. And what a lovely person Mr Stevens is. Not.


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