Day 91: Hunting for Captain Cookers

We were driving down the road a few weeks ago and got behind a semi with a sign for a fund raising event for a local school. Not your ordinary fundraiser though – a pig hunt. That’s certainly not a sign you see often where I come from!

I lived in Arkansas for a while and some people hunt pigs there so it isn’t a totally new concept to me but it is more common here in New Zealand from what I can tell. In the 1700’s a French explorer first brought pigs to the country and Captain Cook later brought some here and gave them to the Maori as gifts. Some of those pigs escaped into the wild which has given wild pigs the nickname of Captain Cookers. NZ has almost no native mammals – the only indigenous land mammals are bats. So there weren’t any natural predators and the pigs thrived.

The pig population got out of control in the early 1900s and the government introduced a bounty on them that paid money for pig snouts and tails – Rural NZ says that in 1947 it was estimated that there were 123 pigs per square kilometer of bush! The bounty in the 1930s was ‘two bob’ a snout and in the 1940s was paid with a shilling or ammunition. A lot of pigs were poisoned as well to bring down the numbers.

Pig hunting is still somewhat common in rural New Zealand. There are magazines and clubs dedicated to it and it features in a few movies about NZ including ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ and ‘What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?’ Pig hunting competitions like the one for the school fundraiser are judged by the weight of the pig or the length and girth of the tusks.

Pics from the Toko School’s hunt can be found on their Facebook page here if you’re interested — https://www.facebook.com/www.toko.school.nz/. There are also some companies that will take you on a guided pig hunt including one I found called Native Nature Tours. Hunting isn’t my thing so I’ve never tried it but they will process the meat for you afterward as well.

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