The Big Country – The Emus

A rancher friend told our rancher that he had had good luck using emus to check the coyotes. His rancher friend also told him they were tough on bobcats, badgers and coons and, by eliminating these predators, it would help to insure good quail and turkey hatches.

Other benefits were that emus would be self-sustaining and their meat was delicious! His “friend” had 15 of the large birds and told him that he could have them for no cost! Our rancher couldn’t pass up that deal.

Opening morning of quail season found me and 2 other lease members, trailing 2 of our dogs as they tried to locate a covey. Thinking nothing of it, we saw an emu about 400 yards to our front as the dogs worked 75 yards out. Before we knew it, the emu was charging and an emu at top speed is a sight to behold! Whistling our dogs to come in, they responded and we grabbed them as the emu stopped about 50 yards away and looked “daggers” at us. We retreated to our Jeep, loaded the dogs and found an emu free spot to hunt.

During the following week, another one of our hunters was hunting alone with his 2 dogs and was attacked by two emus. They killed one of his pointers and he shot one emu, killing it. The visibly shaken hunter made tracks to the main ranch house and told the rancher of the events. Soon the predator controllers, the emus, became the hunted.

Next trip up the rancher warned us of the emu menace and said to go ahead and kill as many as we could. His son had dropped 3 this past week!

We began our hunt around the stock tank and sure enough, an emu spotted our dogs and charged. We whistled the dogs in, reloaded our shotguns with #4 lead shot and waited for the emu to challenge us. It did, we unloaded on him at 45 yards and scratch one emu. Breasting it yielded 2 ham size pieces of dark meat that I took home for Layla to cook like a roast. It smelled very, good, in the oven, sliced well with a sharp knife, but was uneatable, being too tough to chew. So much for emu’s food value!

The rancher told me shortly after the last emu was lured in and shot, “Jon, I worried about those birds from the start. I had never worked with any creature that literally fought me the entire time I was loading them into the trailer. They were awful to deal with! Good riddance!”