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Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Speewah dingoes

The dingoes out on the Speewah are smart, as well, but that's probably because they stole away a few of the Speewah dogs, seeing how clever the dingoes are these days.  Anyhow, that's my theory.  I mean, they won't take a bait however hard you try, and they seem to have a special sense that tells them when somebody's tracking them.

If you see one that knows it's being tracked, you can tell straight away, because it walks around backwards.  So all the good trackers know this, and always follow the tracks in the wrong direction.  But like I say, them dingoes are smart, and I reckon any day now, the dingoes will change around, and start going forward when they know they're being tracked.

They're big, the Speewah dingoes, and that's another reason why people think they're carrying some blood from the Speewah dogs, but it might just be the Speewah soil that helps them grow so big and healthy.  But being big, they need a lot to eat, and so while they'd eat a dozen or so sheep at a sitting, and one year, they'd started carrying away cattle, and so it was time to do something about them.

Now while these dingoes are smart, they're not as smart as the Speewah dogs, which can count to about a hundred.  A dingo, if it sees sixteen men go into a hut, and fifteen come out, is usually going to think the hut is empty, so you can get a few that way.  You send a crowd in, leave a few behind, and the rest go away, leaving a tempting little bunch of food behind to bring them in. 

Anyhow, that was the boss said that year, so he got a gang from the shearing shed together, and had us all walk down to a hut that Mick'd put together during his tea break the previous day, and the boss and three of his mates, all crack shots, stayed in the hut while everybody else walked away, all milling around and skylarking to make it harder for the dingoes to count them.  Then Mick came down with half a dozen rams under his arm, and popped them into a pen outside the hut, and walked away again.

It was coming up to a full moon that night, and the Speewah dingoes like to feed at a full moon.  More importantly, even though they would sneak through the shadows, the moonlight lit up their eyes and made them look like small lanterns.  I think they shine their eye light on the sheep and hold them with it.  Anyhow, the boss and his mates were all crack shots.  In fact, it was the same bunch that backed up Crooked Mick when he tackled the drop bears, and they reckoned they'd get a few dingoes by waiting for the glow, and then shooting between the eyes.

There were four of them lying in wait, and they all had repeating rifles, so they got six dingoes the first night, all smack between the eyes, before the rest realised what was happening and took off.  Next morning, Mick hauled them off and burnt the bodies, and the next night, they figured it was worth trying a second time.  Mick told the boss it'd be no good, that the dingoes'd have it all worked out, but the boss still reckoned it was worth a try.

So we all went down to the hut, same as the day before, but there were dingo trails all round the hut, and when we went in, the four rifles were gone, and so were the rams.  There were no two ways about it: the dingoes had taken the four guns when they came back later for a feed.  Well after a bit of discussion, everyone agreed there was no way the dingoes could shoot — or if they could shoot, they wouldn't know how to adjust for wind and range, so the shooters ought to be safe.  So the whole mob of us moved off again, and the shooters got four more rifles, we all went back to the hut again, and left the boss and his mates there again.

It was almost full moon that night, so the shooting ought to be good, they reckoned, but when the dingoes came, they opened fire, and nothing happened.  Then a cloud passed over the moon, there was a quick howl, a few sheepish noises, and when the moon came out again, there were no dingoes and no rams.  They blamed the new rifles, but when they tested them next day, there was no problem with the sights, so they decided they'd all been too nervous about dingoes shooting back, which they now agreed was quite silly.

But the next night, the same thing happened again, so the boss sent Mick out to work out what was going on.  He came back grinning, and took the boss out to look at the tracks, exactly where the boss and his mates had seen the dingoes coming in.  "There's your problem," he said.

The boss looked, and saw just one set of prints, just where his target had been.  "What's the problem then, Mick?" he asked.

Mick pointed to the prints.  "You need to shoot just outside of the pair of eyes, not between them," he said.  Then he explained the tracks, which had left paws on the right, and right paws on the left.  The dogs had come in as pairs, each using the two inside legs on each dog, and with their outside eye closed, so when the boss and his mates put a bullet between the two eyes they could see, the bullet went into empty space.

That night was the last really full moon night, and it didn't come up until late, but the boss and his mates were ready, and they got four pairs of dingoes and a couple of single ones as well, and that either wiped them out or they moved away.  But it's lucky there wasn't more of the Speewah dog intelligence in them, or they'd be taking the Speewah sheep still.

* * * * *

Note: there is a whole book of these stories, which I am currently pitching to publishers, but they will probably appear in an e-book.

There will be quite a number of these on the blog, all with the tags Speewah and Crooked Mick.

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