More than 300 feral pig hunters have converged on central Queensland for what’s claimed to be Australia’s largest hunting competition.
The King and Queen CQ Big Boar competition was held over three days around Jambin, south of Rockhampton.
Hunters caught more than 500 feral pigs from local properties.
The largest boar caught was 138.9 kilograms, by Josh Allan, while the largest pig caught by a woman weighed 110.7kg, taken by Reanna Mason.
Organiser Jamie Petrie said the first competition was held last year, and raised more than $6,000 for local schools.
This year’s event attracted entrants from between Mackay in north Queensland and northern New South Wales.
Mr Petrie said one of the main aims was to reduce the feral pig problem.
“One local grazier said we should have this competition every weekend, so I think it’s a pretty good testament that we’re doing something right,” he said.
Banana Shire Councillor Col Semple said feral pigs were a major problem in the area.
“Left to their own devices, they’ll totally decimate a crop, take it right out and do hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage, and also to the environment, they get into the waters and dig, foul your water in dams and waterways,” he said.
Cr Semple said diseases were also a major problem.
“Those diseases pass on to cattle and leptospirosis you can get that as a human and it really knock you about and can kill.”
Mr Petrie said hunting was also a good sport.
“Everyone who’s into catching pigs is pretty passionate, but I don’t think anyone gets a thrill out of killing something. The thrill is the chase, and just seeing your best friend work, which is your dog,” he said.
“Good dogs are hard to replace. They’ll find the pig. Some dogs are keen just to bail the pig up until another stronger dog gets there to help them out.
“Catching pigs with dogs is not the only option. Baiting and trapping also plays a part.”
Mr Petrie said pigs were intelligent and hard to catch.
“Third smartest animal in the world. They’re pretty crafty buggers,” Mr Petrie said.
But he said they were creatures of habit.
“We recently had all of our success late at night but we seem to be able to get a lot of pigs early in the morning around 8:00 … so it does show that they move about and they’re pretty clever at being able to hide from you,” he said.
Women who hunt
Hannah Market from Calliope, south-west of Gladstone in central Queensland, said pig hunting was not just for men.
“I’m from out west, so basically every person I know, mainly females as well, they go out and catch a lot of pigs. It’s just what people who live on properties do,” she said.
“Because they destroy the environment and they’re fun to catch, we drive along, dogs jump off, catch the pigs, sometimes we shoot them, or we’ll stick them.
“Usually I catch just the smaller pigs. I’ll catch them and then Josh my husband goes in and sticks them because I can’t do that. I just hold them, flip them over, and then Josh kills them.
“I try to do it humanely. The moment the dogs catch them we go in and kill them,” Ms Market said.
“Basically, [we] just try to get rid of the pest as quickly as possible.”
Clayton Robertson from Gracemere, south-west of Rockhampton, has previously been involved in the pig hunting industry, and said numbers appeared to be on the increase over the past decade.
“They just seem to be getting closer to town. Numbers aren’t getting checked anymore,” he said.
“If they [governments] chucked some money towards bounties and stuff like that, you’d have a lot more pigs to be put out of their misery.”