Zorro, Pat Garrett and the Jack of Harts

View 2Last week, while mustering a paddock that borders the National Park, I noticed cattle tracks in the Park. I mentioned my plan to send some dogs to search for them to Rodney Garrett and he reckoned I would have a better chance if he and his Kelpie, Spy came along.

At 4:00 pm, when the heat had dissipated from the day we Dogs and vehiclejumped 2 teams of 3 Kelpies each into the Ranger and set off to where I reckoned they may be camped. Of course there were no cattle at that spot but enough scent for the dogs to follow. We drove around to get a better vantage point, always a temptation but can confuse the dogs as they tend to bring cattle back to where they initiated their cast.

A crescendo of speaking dogs showed us that the cattle were found and that they were some 500 ft below us in some very inhospitable country. A couple of whip cracks re-oriented our position to the pack. As it was too steep and thickly vegetated to drive the Ranger closer, Rodney suggested we walk down and make sure that the cattle had a relatively clear path back to the ridge top. I think he really wanted to make sure Spy was assisting the flow and direction rather than hindering it. As it turned out the idea was sound as the dogs had located a small mob of 4 cows 4 calves and Zorro, a mature wild bull. He had been seen rarely, but discussed plenty over a beer around a campfire. By the time we were able to see the mob the dogs had cleverly applied force when they tried to run down into the depths of the valley and, more importantly, given relief when they moved upwards. There was a small spring at the base of a rock wall so we moved across the slopeĀ  keeping the dogs off-balance to move the cattle around the rocks and upwards once again. Well done Rodney. As Zorro was understandably man-shy we kept our distance behind the cattle and allowed the dogs to drive them up to where we had parked the Ranger.

dogs to the lead Continue reading

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