|“Dogs of the high plateau”
A new meaning to getting high!
In all the years I have targeted the jackals of Southern Africa I have grown to accept that they often seek altitude. Having hunted many areas from sea level to higher altitudes gives me different results, but good results at the same time every year at high altitude makes me wonder if all this is just a coincidence. I am convinced that altitude lures predators and is the key to better calling success. My conclusion is a proven one.
I am a constant hunter of predators throughout the year as you will know as my articles are often featured; I offer courses to farmers and hunters and have excellent venues. Sutherland is one of these spots; it’s very high above sea level and has an abundance of problem animals. Cats are a plenty, I once called 3 cats in one night, and this is mostly unheard of. A standard good rate for cat calling would be one cat out of every 25- 30 calling stands as they are far more elusive than jackals. This is why calling cats requires more patience than usual.
The farm is situated 50 kilos from the town, the town has a 300 m higher altitude, and predation is far more evident higher nearer the town. I hunt Northern Cape & the Western Cape, on all the farms in these areas if I am at a lower level and call and then change my tactics, and get to above the mountains my success at the same farm doubles. This is ESPECIALLY true at breeding time for jackals. They have dens higher than normal altitudes and this in turn is why the calls are more answered.
So, my conclusion is BREEDING TIME- SEEK ALTITUDE! I hunted an area in the Western Cape this month, this area is not un-familiar to me, I have called this area plenty. Montagu is really a lovely area. In March I called at the farm and had limited success, BUT I knew the dogs were around. This made me sit and ponder about this situation I had, it occurred to me that being breeding season and now the puppies are tiny , still in dens that’s a vulnerable time for them. So, the parents will seek protection from the human predator. So- what do they do? SIMPLE! Get out of Dodge! Seek shelter- SEEK ALTITUDE!
The month was October, moon was 1-2 days into New Moon, and wind was basically zero. The district was Ladismith- small Karoo bordering Montagu. By scouting around at Montagu just north of the KOO we found very few jackal tracks, none with evidence of puppies. We then drove to higher altitude near the same location, and 90 kilometres along the OUBERG turn off outside Montagu started hitting jackal tracks with little tracks walking with the mother. Sometimes the tracks showed the male and female together with little ones.
We decided on a set that we found, a large open expanse with little cover, quality jackal country and below us on an open plain a few slightly watery areas. It had success written all over it. We made the set about 400 yards from a big 5 game camp. The two farms together had a total ground size of 65,000 hectares. I thought that first to show would be a male in this set up, it was a classic set within an area never disturbed, abundance of wildlife & with high tech equipment what could possibly be against me.
I decided that I should maybe try a challenge call first to make a resident male dog mighty angry as to this “strangers” presence. Then go into a puppy call. Maybe my Challenge call will get answered in haste.
We prepared the truck, and sat down to a long wait, an hour later it was dark. I scanned the area twice first before I made any calling sounds with the red light in case I spotted a dog nearby- nothing. I had my American Foxpro unit placed 4m in front of the truck, I punched the code into the remote, sending out a Challenge call into the pitch dark night. Each series is about 5 seconds long, after the 3rd series an EXTREMELY aggressive jackal answered my call, the animal barked at us, I put on the red light, and the dog was standing 45m from us, it trotted sideways still barking furiously at us, with the new bakkie Alnet camouflage it had no knowledge of our presence. At 40m my gunner dropped the jackal with his 243. The time was an INCREDIBLE 35 seconds. It was the fastest calling stand I have ever done. My associate had his night camera prepared for a night filming, but he had no chance, I beat him to it, the dog approached and the hunt ended before he was able to do a thing. Even my gunner commented as to “Man, now that was fast!”. The dog approached the call as I had planned, coming in towards my Foxpro.
After calling another 10 minutes nothing approached and we departed. The next night we again found a quality spot, we made a set about 5 kilometres from the other set, again high altitude. Again after 45 seconds we dropped the next dog at a range of 35 metres. THESE DOGS WERE BOTH SEXES! Upon squeezing the teats the milk was evident as was the areas around the teats where the young had been suckling.
So, now you are saying what’s your point to all this? Well, it very simple, when it’s the time of year to breed, or the mother is with young in a den call higher up into the mountains. Get closer to the action. These months would be, and this is a general assumption as some areas in Africa differ.
I would say September the puppies are in dens drinking and feeding. October they are MAYBE out of dens walking around and November with adults venturing from the dens. Some areas this is already happening in October. So, in these months get altitude. So to round it off start with altitude hunts from beginning September to end of November.
If you have high flat areas on your farm, a mountain towering around or near you try access it and call as we did. IT WORKS!!! This has been proven more since that weekend, so it’s not a coincidence.
I have also found that calling cats on higher altitudes helps and success is greater, BUT with the felines its not so involved, but the canines; the jackal has a stable breeding program, he is predictable were his breeding cycle is concerned, but a cat not, they breed anytime of the year, so generally altitude all year is good for a feline.
To match a jackals breeding cycle with the correct calling sounds is very important, and calling him in his safe zone is also important, it for one improves our success. For humane sake try to not shoot both parents and leave puppies to starve in the dens, I have NEVER called in two jackals during the breeding season and shot both, finding that they are male and female, chances are you never will as one will be in the den with the little ones.
So, next year get out and give it a whirl, try what I class as an ULTIMATE ALTITUDE HUNT, it’s a very good reason to get high!
Who knows maybe by this method you also will find that you can eradicate some of these stock killers more easily.