My buddy shot me a message to come up and hunt his stomping grounds yesterday with a falconer we both know. By the time I got there, they had already dug up a nutria. Since I had hunted that property so many times, I convinced them to go exploring for a new spot. We found one and dropped my jagd terrier Claude. He worked the brush hard for about half a mile. The fields were eaten down about 20 feet all along the brush line, so we knew nutria were in the area. Claude eventually settled down on a spot in a thick patch of berries. We couldn't see him, but could hear he was digging and pulling at roots. We let him work for 15 minutes before hacking in and seeing what he was up to. He was at the entrance of a three hole set. He could go in a few feet, but it turned and went down into pudding like mud. I dug some of the mud out and sent him back in. He was snorkling to get in there and had a tight corner, but he made it in and engaged. He doesn't bark much unless he's frustrated. So he grabbed his game right away and drew it out. It was only a few feet in there. After I praised him for doing his job and killed the nutria, he went right back down the hole again. This time, the struggle was a little tougher for him. The pudding mud was getting sloppier and I could hear both he and the nutria were blowing bubbles in it and having to hold their breath. So I reached in and was able to tail Claude. He hung on and I pulled him out attached to his game. A quick dispatch and Claude was back to checking if anything else was home. He said the hole was empty and we went on our way. He was cold and shivering at this point, so I washed him off in a pond and put him back in his carrier full of warm straw. He didn't mind taking a break at that point.
The next spot we went would have been bad news for us, did not people despise nutria so badly. We were right next to an overpass by the highway on one side, and a new development of houses on the other. One of the neighbors there had called my friend asking him to get rid of some of the nutria right next to his house. My buddy collared a white dog and the little russell got to ground within a couple minutes in a rocky set. Lucky for us, nutria like to dig up. When he settled, we dug down to him stuck at a corner. The digging was hard for him in the gravel, (the place had the remnants of an old road still there) so we put him down another hole to see if he could make it to his game that way. He did in short order. We dug him up holding his game midtube, let some young dogs smell and see what was going on, and dispatched the game.
We let another white dog down to check for more sets in the brush and she bolted a big nutria into the water. She went out after it and had a scuffle. My buddy ran out there and tailed the critter. That was the end of that. Drowning is the main way terriers die around here. You've got to act quickly when water is involved.
After that we checked some sets we knew to hold, but the water was too high to work the dogs there. An old farmer who had been watching us dig over the past few months told us of a farm overrun with nutria. So we loaded up and headed there. I asked the property owner if he minded us hunting nutria and he told me, "Have at it. I don't need any explanations about how you do it, I don't care if you use dynamite! Just kill those sons-a-bitches."
The place was overrun with the big mud rats. Three big ones were out grazing right as we walked up on the irrigation canals. We set the falconer's dog to work on the trails, but it seems they must have made it to water, as they didn't get found. We leashed that dog and I let my black terrier Gundy down. He headed right into the thicket and was gone for about 15 minutes before I could barely hear the faint sound of a nutria in the distance. I wasn't looking forward to finding him in that mess of brambles. It was about 10 acres covered 20' high in black berries, roses and hawthorn. Damned if I didn't have to go through that shit to get to the dog. But he stayed on his game til i got to him. It was about finished off already.
My buddies weren't keen on following me through all the thorns, so they hollered in at me to see if I had gotten the dog so they could drop a couple white dogs to bust the brush. I carried Gundy out and by the time i reached a grassy patch to sit down and inspect the dog, the other fellas had already caught another large nutria. It was their turn to got through the armpit of hell that time. I sat in a grassy glade relaxing.
When all that was done. We wanted to explore the property more. It had long irrigation canals with many sets along them. We spotted a few more nutria grazing. Gundy marked a set and we dammed it to get the water out, but he said nothing was in after we went to all the work. We let a little white bitch run the ditch line and she took off back into the thicket. She bayed up a nice big nutria against a log in the brush. After that, we called it a day.
Not bad all in all. Some good tales were told. The falconer even knew some good poetry about working terriers that he rattled off the top of his head. The water table is still a bit high for the dogs to get alot of work to ground right now, but soon, those sets should be workable and we'll be back at them.
Pics are of the day's haul and Claude getting ready to go back in.