Normally the primary objective of heading north is to go toe to toe (toe to scale? toe to tail?) with a fishy foe. Up north can mean anywhere from say Mangawhai, right up to Maria Van Deimen. Usually there's an assortment of rods, reels, lures, flies - whatever.
This time it was a pheasant hunt. Through the forum I met Chris, and in exchange for a Roboduk motor we jacked up a day's pheasant hunting. Sort of one of those "hey let's just meet up and go do it" things that work out so well when you're dealing with good bastards. Tim couldn't come along in the end, so I left for Chris's place at about 4 on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately a big crash at Puhoi meant a trip along SH16 to Welsford - BUT! Man, I found new places to access the Kaipara AND found a big flock of canadas at Kaukapakapa - so while it was a slow journey it was a bloody good one. Got up to Chris's house at 7? Can't really remember. We (Chris, MEB, me) sat around having a rum or two and a beer or two before we all hit the hay. Got up at 6, just can't sleep in these days. We had a big brekkie and hit the road for a new block Chris had got access to. Spent a while yakking with the cockie and then headed back to work a pine block. Walking was easy and quiet, as there was grazed grass under the pines. About 20 minutes in I crested a small rise and 5 hens ran or flew off. No rooster, but another hen took off from a tree above me. We crossed a fence and moved over a rise when a bird broke well ahead. He was going like the clappers and probably 50m out when I fired and he came down hit, but I could see it was only a wing shot. By the time we got down there he had run off and Robbie the dog got sidetracked by a couple of possum's scents. Its never a good look to lose a hit bird. Having worked the block E-West roughly at the bottom, we turned and worked it N-Sth. I stayed on the boundary because the sun was out in force and I thought the birds would be into the warmth - quite a strong NE wind was blowing. I ended up separated from the boys, so worked up to the road and along the top of the block. Half way along, a hen jumped, with it the smallest rooster I've shot at. As he did his death dance and ended up belly up in the pine needles he looked tiny! I worked to a depression running down the block and followed it down slowly and quietly. Another rooster jumped and I had him in the bag. Blessing my luck I stopped for a photo or two of the 2 birds. I continued down when a shot rang out to my left, so I changed direction to see if I coule find the boys. Another 2 shots - from behind me, I realised that they were covering ground quite fast so I did an about turn and caught up with them where they were about to cross my tracks from 5 minutes ago. Interestingly, Robbie had put up a rooster that I must have walked past, Chris gave it 2 barrels but missed. Filling me in, it turned out that their earlier shot had been at my winged bird from the first encounter of the day. It could sort of run, sort of fly but neither at 100% capacity and they'd missed a running shot. As they chased it down the ridge Robbie had got onto a second rooster - the one I had walked past. We had a quick rest and chin wag then decided to go up the ridge to see if we could cut the woundie's trail - sure enough Robbie took off, the phezzie ran down hill, Robbie catching up, phezzie getting ahead - then a burst of speed and Robbie has him! We continued and i saw Robbie set, then head off towards MEB so I kept on up the slope. 2 shots! And then a pheasant came from left to right and landed in a patch of low blackberry 60m up from me. I stalked quietly up there and walked into the scrub. A hen burst out and I tracked her then a cock got up and went like the clappers. 2 shots and i saw he was hit as his leg dropped. I walked up the ridge and crossed the road - only 1 gully down the other side, so I looped around to meet the lads - MEB had scored a nice big rooster. We crossed the road and Chris put Robbie into the gulley, where he found a big dead rooster. 4 with 5 shots - stoked! We walked another block for a couple of hours but it was infested with turkeys, the phezzies we did see ran ahead and got out well out of range. Chris nailed a pair of parries getting himself on the board. Getting on by this time, so we visited another block of recently cutover pines. Chris mentioned that birds preferred the ridges facing the sun, so we set off. Almost immediately birds started getting out - waaayyy ahead of us. As i moved into some real sh*t a bird got up aabout 40m out and I let rip, dropping him. Robbie got down there but it was heavy and the bird had moved - another runner. Robbie worked hard to get on him and then he was off with the dog in pursuit. Robbie grabbed the bird, delivered him, and that was me done. A Northland limit - stoked! A couple of beers in the sun overlooking the scene and then off to Chris's for a coffee. Home by 8.15 pm. A great day, great company and I'll be back.