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dead cows, wild dogs, men with guns.

The builders spotted them up on a ridge a little way off. Five dogs mustering a half -dozen beef cattle and their poddy calves into a narrow pocket of thick bush and barbed wire fences that would have them trapped.

Smart dogs these after generations in the hills, silently corralling some of the local prize beef away for their own consumption.

So the builders rang old Sam Heyha, the local farmer who owned the beef. Sam also owned the gun –  a Finnish militia variant of the Steyr Mannlicher SSg 69 rifle. A lovely shooting unit for the money but a touch shandy on the recoil according to the little master. Plus a 6 X 42 Zeiss sight on the barrel.

A live one in the cross hairs, clear vision, still air – then that lovely chunking bang! in your ear.

zzzzzzzzzzzzip …

And a flop-down dead dog up there on the ridge.

Only a sniper knows the feeling.

Sam is a prolonged shooter. Loves it, happy to fire away all day if somebody would sit him up in the shade, in a soft chair, and near to an esky topped up with cold Pilsner – like today. Plus lunch and smoko with the builders at the appointed times. All this in view of the hounds he was hunting. Sometimes a little reefer to help with a long trigger pull, not that deadeye Heyha ever needed it.

All day long; the dull bang of a hammer, the sharp snap of a nail-gun, the fierce crack of Sam’s Steyr.

This what is meant by prolonged, this bloke is going to be here all day at $50 per dead dog, big or small, and laid out on the lawn later. This is the man you had to meet if you wanted someone to cull the puppies in the gullies in springtime – before they grew bigger and culled your beef in summer.

Sam would try for the biggest female first, no trouble here spotting her distended nipples with a 6 X 42, so he’s right up close.

Then after she flopped he would take out the pups as they crept out for a looksee at their mother lying there. All of them hungry.

bang – bang.

The other method was to wander about down in the creeks looking for their trails. Faint wanderings. Dogs like a drink. When he found the right sign he would prise up a few plugs of earth here and there about the place and lay in a few of last weeks lambchops plus a little ten-eighty in the holes. Sodium monofluoroacetate. Then he’d pat the plugs back down. Step on them and walk away.

The dogs usually died thirsty in the creek.

Slinging the stuff out of a helicopter doesn’t work any more, no deliveries accepted, the dogs like to find their own dinner. Like old Olive here, all she wanted to do was lie down and add to Frank’s inventory.


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header pic by peter lorimer 2012

During just 100 days of the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union, Simo Häyhä was credited with 505 confirmed kills of Soviet soldiers – five a day. He worked in white camouflage in temperatures between −40 and −20 degrees Celsius, and he amassed the greatest sniper tally in history. He became known as The White Death.

In later life he turned to farming and hunting. {}

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