Friday, December 24, 2010

Users Pays - Why don't the commies understand this model?

In "our" swamp, we've suffered little in the way of interference by govt forces over the years. I say little because our user group governance body (Upper Piako Wetland Management Assn) have a pretty solid governance strategy, policy and a management plan that is approved by DOC.  So when I got an email from dad that DOC were upset with our most recent spraying effort, I was a little less than amused. Need approval to spray poa aquatica (Glyceria aquatica)? God almighty, these idiots straight out of uni need to get a grip. Who asked us before mass chopper boom-spraying the willows that protected bird-life and created habitat? DOC? No way. Neat crop of blackberry and other wandering herbal pests that created for US, the USERS to fix up. Stupid hippies, living off the public purse. So dad gave them a barrel and they came creeping back all apologetic like, guv. Stupid slimey belly-creeping hippies with their dumb apologies. Next we'll need RMA approval to slash a blackberry. This is Helen Clark's legacy you see. We all need to be saved from ourselves and closeted in little pigeon holes. God help free thought.

We use, we pay, we manage. And somehow due to years of doing that we know what we're doing. I really hate Johnny-come-lately slimeballs that come with a "we know it all" attitude.

Merry Xmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hopeful signs

Paul Stenning, noted waterfowler and Southland F&G Councilor is a worried man. His worry stems from the lack of research into NZ's Greylard/Mallard population, and how little we know of the population dynamics. His immediate concern (refreshingly) is not for his region's birds right now; but should the population markedly decline as is inferred it has done in other regions - what would an adequate management response be? How would we know what to do - is there an emergency plan? Here's where I digress....(again! Yay!) In our business we plan for a range of business outages from widespread mass interuptions (earthquake, acts of God) to global events such as break out of various strains of influenza derivatives to localised events such as power blackouts. Techinically everyone in the business (yeah there's always a dumbass) knows what the appropriate response should be in order to allow business continuity depending on the scale and severity of the event or outage. We know how to do this because in our knowledge banks we have the information gathered from when we've suffered power blackouts, had staff down in droves with various illnesses and even had terrorist threats on our building (given we're housed in one of Auckland's transport hubs, that's not too surprising). The point is that we know what to do. And it sort of works. A bit closer to home, that whole PSA gig in the kiwifruit industry exposed a clear lack of continuity planning... ok so resources were brought to bear but it took so long, and was so disjointed...

So, back to waterfowl, what happens if in Eastern there's a mass botulism outbreak in say Tauranga Harbour (unlikely example), or if some egg denaturing disease takes hold in Northern and wipes out all the nesting effort; or.. the list could go on. How would we know what's happening? How do we know our breeding success rates? Or the effect of crippling? Or whether our birds are nesting more than once? Or where?

Paul is worried, so he's pushing for a nationalised approach to researching our waterfowl populations. Its not a new idea, but its one that has merit. It needs to be nationalised and coordinated and run scientifically in order that planning can be put in place to allow for population management that has a fact base. Paul's taliking with councilors from various reagions, as it is expected that Southland F&G will put forward a remit to national; and if it isn't to die an agonising death it will need support from all regions. It will need buy-in, funding, coordination, but we have the staff power and appropriate job titles to do this! I can't see a single negative to be found. Someone may of course, that's the nature of committees.

Paul's been on the phone to a few people, Tim Allen, Guy, Craig, me.. to name a few shady dudes. Or leading lights. Naturally he wants our support, which will be granted and the support of our managers, which will take some work.

Watch this space.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Well well lookie here. This batch augments the number of full body goose field dekes that have been hidden under my desk at work, or snuck out to the wood shed. These dekes look primo, can't wait to line them up against the GHG pro grades and see which look best.... hahhaahaaaaa, let the sledging begin!

People at work save I'm obsessive, so does SWMBO but to my absolute rapture, Justin Bieber Fan Club told me "I want to drive your dirty 4 wheel drive and kill geese". All this without prompting. The old heart is gladdened, warmed even by this. What a fine obsession to have!

Now, for that boat......

Monday, December 6, 2010

Oh Rats!!!

Waitemata Harbour is a great fishery, cheap, accesible and close to home. The harbour is filling up with spawning snapper at the moment, but yesterday's mission was about kingfish and fly rods. We wanted to at least get out and about after the aborted Waikaremoana trip, so the loose plan was to meet up at TT's, load the boat and get down to Okahu Bay and meet with Garth Planck who would join us. Garth's a well known competition angler who is trying to make the NZ team for the world champs. He reckons its his lake fishing that he needs to touch up on. I have my own thoughts about fishing competitions. Somehow sitting on the bank of a stream, smoking a ciggie and watching a fish feed seems to me to be a bit more 'in tune' than covering every mm of water with methodical no second wasted time bound precision of the top guys. Each to their own. One thing I do know about fishing around obstacles for kings is that presentation of the fly has to be accurate - it doesn't really matter how you get the fly just deep enough just upstream of the obstacle - only that you get it there. Waitemata is known for afternoon breezes, which tend to be steady and make casting tricky, so any manipulation of back-hand, over head, or roll cast to drop the fly in the zone will do. It will have to do. T-14 isn't exactly designed for pretty casting anyhow. Its designed to sink like a half brick. We headed out to a well known rock between 2 islands, got in postition which was tricky and after a couple of casts I was on. With the current and wind TT was having a hell of a job keeping the boat in place and we drifted across the buoy chain... fish 1 angler nil. After a few minutes we decided to anchor and dropped the pick. The position wasn't great but it was manageable and a few minutes and a couple of pack attacks later I was on again. But as I was standing on the line that fight didn't last long.... Garth meantime didn't have any action.

After a few more minutes TT wanted to reposition, but in doing so we hooked the pick on the buoy chain and had to jettison it after a bit of toing and froing. Bye bye $200. We decided to move back into Rangi Channel and check out the action there. First up the marker pole. Nothing doing. So we began to buoy hop and began to find fish. At almost every buoy at least one and sometimes up to half a dozen rats would chase the fly out. The Megamushy got eaten a few times and it was nice to get on the board; Garth meantime began to suffer from the dreaded mal de mer and his efforts flagged. I gave him a fly that would get bitten; his flies were a bit too bulky. The fish were all rats, nothing I saw would have exceeded 4 kilos or so.

We ended the day at Rough Rock - a new buoy is attached there and its pretty 'clean' -no barnacles or weed growth on it yet. One small king came out and made a half arsed pass at the fly. Then we wound in. Inumerable casts, 4 hookups, 2 landed, heaps seen. Sweet.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Late spring

Well the trip didn't eventuate due to sickness in the household. TT's dad is near the end of his innings so TT was looking forward to some solitude, but the never-ending bug in our household just keeps taking its toll. JB Fan Club still up every hour on the hour coughing all night; I'll not miss this bug when it passes. TT and me are going to hit the harbour buoys for kingis tomorrow, so better make sure the gear is all ready.

Anyway, Shanks made a video of our little charges, this morning he let them out on the grass in the pen extension:
Our little charges are looking great!

Shane from Taupo took this photo the other day on a back country stream:

So the geese are getting around as well. Late spring and bird life is looking good. The looming problem appears to be drought, already Northland is in a perilous state. The daily clouds are just rolling over and not dumping, yet dada told me that the tanks at our duck hut are full, something like 200+ lites of water have been collected. Good news for the swamp, because at my place we'd have been lucky to get any rain in the past 3 weeks - significant rain, that is. So we're facing another Waikato drought summer. How long can the central Waikato duck shooters weather this before they start to give the game away? Its almost predictable now that their ponds are dry from Jan - mid June. License sales are actually up year on year which is some good news, so maybe just maybe folks will hang in there. As for the ducks, they may struggle for food all too soon.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Free Saturdays

First free Saturday for ages today, which is good because I'm coming off a week of man 'flu, broken sleep and 2 weeks of work hell. Justin Beiber Fan Club has had a wracking cough and conjunctivitis for 10 days and is finally coming right. Talk about a hive of disease in my house. So, stuff that happened in past 2 weeks. I hit the tying vice a couple of times, but my ambitions weren't matched by output, somehow stuff just fell flat. Still have most of a box to fill. Am noticing that my visual acuity is getting shot too, I need lots of light while tying so my eyes are getting tired by night tying efforts. Last Saturday's AWF&G council meeting was just as the bug was kicking in; my head was pounding for most of it. Cocks got pi$$ed with not having shortened season on F&G blocks; put forward a motion that the goose season be of same length as that of duck season, was seconded, voted and hey presto we have a 7 week goose season instead of 16 weeks. We got a special goose season in late summer but that is subject to game bird trend counts. Subsequently paper is flying; we will have a special meeting in Jan to rethink the goose season.

With the exchange rate it is possible to partake in international sales and land stuff at prices that are about as 'reasonable' as you're likely to see. Half dozen Final Approach full body "Starter Pack" dekes can be got for NZ$241 from Cabelas, add in freight and you're still under the magical $65 dollar per dekes mark that seems to seperate the good dekes from the not so good.

Next Saturday is free as well; free in the sense that TT, me and maybe Tim will be in Ureweras chasing fish and maybe we can knock over a deer as well. We'll take off Thursday fish/hunt Friday & Saturday and come back Monday. Should be a goodie.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Swamp working bee

9 am roll call.... well more like 9.20 because we all sort of arrived at different times at the boat ramp. Tom, Paul, Tim, Quinn and me travelled down with Tom's boat, Rick and Jason arrived just before us; Andrew, Aaron and 2 of his kids were already there. A few trips up and down the river (tide was out) and we had everything up at the hut. Scope of work was quite large:

Repair the roof (Tom & Andrew) - include installation of new chimney
Install the new window - Tim & Aaron
Spray the ponds - me, Paul, Rick & Jase.

New Chimney & Window

The day was hot but there was a decent breeze, but still Tom and Andy fried up on the roof. Rick and Jase powered through their work and me and Paul focussed on the heavy poa infestation especially between Park & Willow track and the Western edge of Bollocks. We trampled transverse lines through the crap and laid the spray on. Hopefully it has the desired effect. Lunch was called at 1 pm, Rick putting on a feed of venison sausages.

Venision Sausage in bread - on way up to men on roof

After a good day's work, all was completed. The new chimney looks brilliant, the new window is pretty good, and the Poa hopefully will wither under the intense spray program we applied. Paul and I saw a clutch of grey ducklings as well, a bit of a treat that you don't see everyday.

At 3 we pulled the pin at the ponds, tidying up and travelling to the landing took another hour. A big day's work out of the road, and really good to knock over some niggly problems that needed fixing.

Tom and Andy & the new chimney

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Talking with Nik

.. I know why the big king may be disqualified from W/R ratification. It's a technicality that could become quite embarressing to a major manufacturer. But i still will stay schtum until I'm allowed to say why....

Monday, November 8, 2010

At the vice

My trout boxes haven't had much attention over the past summer & winter. Not really sure why. But of late I've been back in tying mode. I've been thinking about and using new (to me) materials, stuff like Knapek czech nymph hooks, Lucent beads and incorporating more wires and tinsels.

My ties aren't quite good enough to be professional but still I'm pleased enough with the results.

Getting there. Still have about 5 dozen holes to fill in the fly boxes.......

Non ratification

Nik says that it is 99.9% certain that the big kingi will not be ratified as a world record capture. I don't know why; and as he is writing an article about it I guess it will stay under wraps until published.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Roll your own sausage

Things I learned about making your own sausages:

1. The meat grinder/sausage stuffer makes noise equivalent to a small chainsaw. Ear muffs recommended. The family had to evacuate to Oma's house (Oma being Dutch term for Granny) to escape the noise
2. The sausage casings are little buggers. Part of the prep involves thoroughly rinsing them in cold water (they come packed in salt to preserve them), and if you're not careful they'll slide down the plug hole.....
3. It's not a fast process. It took me about 3 hours (I should get faster in the future) to rattle up 4kg of sausages
4. But man is it satisfying to end up with chains of sausages, knowing the origination of every single bit - except the casing I suppose

I used Canada goose, pork shoulder and pork belly - with lean game meat you need a source of fat content so pork belly from pigs shot at Shanks' place are the perfect source. Fresh sage, thyme, garlic, lemon juice, sea salt, cracked black pepper and some fresh chilli powder, a bit of playing around and voila! a really nice sausage emerged.

SHMBO has banned me from doing it again, so next weekend I'll put down another batch!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hen Houses

Now here's a really great idea - Hen Houses for mallards.

Teal boxes have been around for donkeys but the entry hole is generally too small for a Mallard hen to use. They are well used, but the ones I've seen are made with big wooden stands which are perfect runways for rats, defeating the whole purpose really.

The Hen House really solves that one, old Rattus rattus can't grip smooth metal all that well, I say it that way because I've seen one run up painted corrugated iron.

If you were to put Hen Houses on say farm ponds, with little natural cover they would provide a hen mallard with a structure in which she could find safety and comfort.

Gonna give these a shot....

Caring for your trout

I was going to call this "Caring for your fish" but that sort of implies keeping the fillets in the fridge or something so that they taste nice. Nope, this one is about caring for your trout once you've caught it. To be clear about the subject, I'm going to assume that like the majority of anglers you don't really want to eat your trout, given that they are:

1. Often wild fish in streams with limited spawning opportunity
2. Farkin tasteless
3.Too valuable to catch only once - economically it is important that the fish you catch today can be caught again next week by a yank, or Aussie, Dane.. whatever, as long as they spend their tourist moolah in Godzone
4. Farkin tasteless
5. An important recreational resource that should be shared with others
6. Really farkin tasteless

I mean anything you have to douse in brown sugar or add garlic to or smoke or... well I mean they are just tasteless. Served in cream with garlic butter sauce, a trout tastes like cream and garlic butter with little bones in it.

I digress. Damn it, I'm good at digression.

So, you've hooked your big trout, played it as hard as possible to bring it to your soft meshed (no knots) large mouthed net as quickly as possible, and screamed in delight as Salmo monsteris has been netted. What you do next determines the viability of the fish's continued existence in this dimension. You want that photo of a lifetime, and your mate is nowhere near you. Forget the photo. Keeping the fish in the water (in the net) use your forceps to remove the hook, hold the fish gently in the current and say goodbye after it fins off when well revived. I can tell you from personal experience that dicking around with a fish, camera, net, rod blah blah on your own gives the fish a short life expectation. It is almost impossible to set everything up and get the snap and get the fish back alive. Smartasses out there will mention sand bags for their camera blah blah, and maybe they can get their shot and get the fish back alive but I reckon its a low margin exercise.

Let's say your mate is there. For a start don't let him net your fish, its safer for both of you that he doesn't. If it gets away while he's netting it there are gonna be either some choice words, hard feelings or digging rights forever after. Don't put yourself in that place, as your mate begs you to net his trophy just tell him he's a pussy and to get on with it. And don't ask him to net yours. Right, so Salmo megaspottyfish is now in the net. Holding the fish in the mesh of the net, head upstream, use your forceps to remove the hook. Whip your hat and sunnies off. Fish is still in net, submerged in water. Your mate positions himself so sun is right for the photo and camera is ready to take the shot. He calls the shot, you smartly lift the fish from the net, taking care not to touch gills, or eyes (don't ask me how you'd do that...). Your hands are wet of course and you've not recently applied sunscreen or anti-fly ointment which burns the slime off the fish.  You take only a few shots, with lots of rest time between for the fish. Then you gently release the recovered fish into a part of the stream that has protected flow. Off he goes.

Check this out.

Here Simon hasn't even taken time to remove hat and sunnies. The water dripping from his hog sized fish shows he's just lfted it for the shot, perfect technique. Hats off to fine angler and excellent practitioner of C&R.

What makes it even better:

The angler is a big fish chaser, but check out the fish - yup its him again! Steven caught the fish in Jan '10, Simon took him in Oct '10. And I've been heard that this guy (fish, not angler) has appeared in no less than 4 Facebook pages.

The lesson here is that this fish has probably driven a zillion anglers into mad dribbling mutterings about travelling to NZ... he may have accounted for more tourist dollars than The Lord of The Rings... oh ok but you get my drift.

2 things spring to mind when I think of that fish:

1. Some people are doing a good job of releasing their fish in a fit and healthy state, ensuring that a valuable resource is available to others
2. That fish would taste awful, even in beer batter with extra spices.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Shanks Ranch, sorting the pen

The usual early start was had, and we chugged away from Tim's pretty much on time. Coffee call was made at Huntly, then we travelled onwards to TA to catch up with Mick and get the stuff for Craig's kitchen. Except Mick was absent and Mrs. Mick sounded like she truly appreciated her wake up call.... not! We made it to the Shanks Ranch about 9 and Aunty rocked up a bit later. Coffee, tea etc then out with tools and down to the pen.

Where we'd left off last time

Today we had to dig in the corrugated iron and lay up the wire netting around the pen; effectively proofing it from ground predators. A couple of hours of yakka and we'd got it ship-shape looking.

Simon & Craig at work. (Baldies!)

Wires were strung for the shade cloth roof, leaving the final big job for Craig - putting up and stiching the shade cloth. Then in with the feeders, drinkers and out with the traps... one final big job is building the boxes for the traps.

Chicken wire strung

Iron dug in & nailed

All done barring the shade cloth


Craig got 100 odd of the reconditioned traps ex AWF&G so we need to get them operational ASAP.

In the afternoon the lads took the dogs for a walk after a pig and I hit the river looking for a trout. I'd been looking forward to heading upstream following the river into the bush, but water clarity wasn't the best so spotting fish wasn't easy. Those that I saw were small and the peewhacker I brought ashore was but a 10"er. Somewhere along the way I felt the kiss of nettle on my neck.. and then in a big pile of Supplejack I slipped and heard the dreaded "click" as the top 2" of the Sage 5 weight parted ways with the rest of the blank. Stink, but lifetime replacement is exactly why you pay a bit more for these rods. incidentally I've broken the tip of this rod twice now and smacked the guides off my TCR 6 in a rock fall. Sage replaced the last tip for a small shipment fee and I paid for replacement of guides. If the blank had broken instead of guides it would have cost less.... but anyhow. I got back to the car and headed downstream for a look, the rod, while abbreviated was still functional. Still nothing. Back to the house we had afternoon tea and made preps for an evening hunt. I nipped down to the river below the house, now a much broader beast full of snags and other horror. The first pool is a big broad one, with current emptying into the pool along the far (true left) bank. The angler stands on true right bank, above a mini cliff some 15 feet above water. The cast is not overly long, perhaps 40 feet, across the pool which because of the nature of the inflow has a big upstream swirl/back eddy. The drift is natural for about 10 feet before the line is impeded in the back current. I had on a big Mike Davis stonefly imitation in brown with long wiggle legs, although damed if there'd be a stonefly natural within 300km of the place (they require pristine water and generally a rocky bottom). At the termination of the natural drift I began to retrieve the fly jerkily. Half way back as the fly came into view so did the fish shape chasing it, always a foot behind. I stopped the fly, the fish pounced, and I set the hook. At first it was just a "fish" but as it came up through the water column (and murk) a flash of gold gave it away as a brown - and a good one too, just the right size to feed us (Craig wanted smoked trout for dinner). Fighting fish from a high bank really gives them no chance, the upward pressure tires them and you can exert control easily. After a pretty good tussle it was on its side and I had it beat ... if i could get to water level and gill it. As i looked around for a way down I moved downstream a few paces and the fish sensing the extra speed of the water as it shallowed and exited the pool made a frantic run and threw the fly. Not that I think fish can sense anything logically; it just knew to head for cover! I wasn't too dark because the back up plan for dinner involved steak! Then I went and blew it by catching a food sized rainbow and giving it its last rites, so after all that it would be fish for tea instead of steak. Incidentally the fish ate one of those big blingy wire bodied things with a red abdomen, red bead, orange legs, flash back.... it would never have seen anything like that in its life so just more proof that fish are completely base and will eat just because they have to.  Its gut was packed with horn caddis (Olinga feredayi) so guess what I'm tying on next time I fish there?

The evening stalk was a goodie, the chill Easterly doing its best to chill us down; it was quite dark before Craig muttered 'There's a pig down there'. There actually were 2, and after a stalk a nice fat young boar hit the dirt with a bullet thru his shoulder. Back to the house to watch a DVD then we hit the hay. Up at 6, pig skinned, on the road and back in Ak hell by 10. Joy. Next Saturday I'll be making sausages....

Chinese Whispers

The record kingi is 32.7kg, not 37.2kg as first reported.... sort of a dyslexic Chinese Whispers thing happened, by the time I got the news it was pretty third hand. Still a massive fish and still an impressive record.

Friday, October 29, 2010

New World Record

News filtered through yesterday that Nik put his Aussie (grrr hahaha) client onto a 37kg kingi, which they landed - and get this on an 8kg class leader. That's outstanding, easily the biggest kingi ever caught on a fly rod, plus most people after big kings wouldn't even dream of fishing class tippets. And the 8kg class to boot. For those who don't know, the IGFA lines classes for fly fishing are:

Metric U.S.Equivalent
1 kg 2.20 lb

2 kg 4.40 lb

3 kg 6.61 lb

4 kg 8.81 lb

6 kg 13.22 lb

8 kg 17.63 lb

10 kg 22.04 lb

So this is more than just a meritorious catch, if ratified. Ratification involves weighing the fish on certified scales, and then providing photos, the official weigh cert., the leader/fly setup and a few feet of fly line to the International Game Fishing Association where they test the leader for length/construction and the class section of the leader for breaking strain.

Nik does it all by the book, so most likely this herculean effort will dominate the record books, perhaps forever. Even better and as a mark of his skills, his prediction was that the WR kingi would be taken in October based on their spawning cycle, relative 'mood' (let's not get into a debate, he has his theories and this one is borne out) and location. The thing to remember here is that its a team effort, yes the angler has to hook play and bring the fish close enough to gaff or net, but putting the angler in the right place to get his part right, well that takes some doing.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mudding one's blind

My internet deal layout blind arrived this week God bless the AU$ for dragging the kiwi up against the Greenback; internet deals are better than they've been for a couple of years. Got the blind set up and it was immediately inhabited by the Justin Beiber fan club.

So it was an immediate hit. Even SWMBO ignored us as we were having fun. But here's the thing about deals - you don't alweays get quite what you would have bought if you were not bargain hunting. Check out the camo - its Avery Killerweed which seems to represent sun burned corn stalks. It's pretty bright. It's horribly bright. The instructions recommend "mudding your blind". A quick internet nosey turned this up.

Oh yeah, mud soup, and its JB Fan Club's birthday, a match made in heaven you'd think. Except JB Fan Club has inherited her mum's clean freak genes. So it's my mud fest.

Into the bucket goes the mix and hey presto we get this:

So as you can see the difference, here's a bit of mudded and unmudded blind:

Next step is to let it dry and broom off the dry stuff. As one sage person noted, you pay up the $100 extra for the name brand camo pattern and then put mud on it until it looks khaki... why not just buy the khaki one in the first place?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Saltie guide in the fresh

Sounds kinky... but nah, Nik and Si were thwarted by persistent southerlies so embarked on a troutie mission.

Here's his 3 weight victim. The fish is the victim. Just to clarify.

8 good old fashioned pounds with a 3 weight is a good effort. (Those lighter rods, in my opinion, are better suited to slower actions. I've an 8'6" Sage XP in 4 weight and its not a great rod. Put simply once the tip folds its a stiff stick with not much give and I've bounced the odd fish off).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tying with wire

I got these beaut new "Lucent" tungsten beads on the weekend. The motivation was that I lost most of the flies from the's member's forum "FlySwap - The Bling Bling Swap". A flyswap is quite a cool notion. You enter your name, there's a limit of up to 15 tiers, and if you're in you tie the same pattern of fly for each of the 15. Oh yeah, and a few extras for the bloke/blokess who handles the swap, coordinates it, photographs the flies, sorts and dispatches the final set out to the participants.

On the day (opening) "Bling-Bling" seemed very apt for the conditions. I wanted flies that the fish could see, and that carried enough weight. (Shoulda used a glo bug and a chunk of split shot like Milo did). Anyway, Jack Kos' fly was one that got away from me, hooked in a tree, or on a snag I, can't remember which.

I liked the effect of the wire on the abdomen, in this case a green/red combination. The legs and hairy thorax are good triggers too, but I felt it could be enhanced with a bead, and a bit of Masterbrite (type that into your spell checker and see what you get.... ok I'm not the first person to make that joke but still).

I ended up tying up some pretty weird stuff. I dropped the tail off, got a Partridge "Klinkhamer" hook as the base (beautiful hook but the sizes are like no other manufacturers sizes so my size 16 and 14 order arrived looking likes 10's & 8's). The central theme in each case was the wire abdomen. This style of tie is as old as the hills; flies like the Brassie have been around forever. I tied one of those when I was 11 or 12, and thought I'd invented a new fly.... then of course there's the very famous Copper John series from John Barr, etc etc. Like I said, nothing is new.

The beauty of these flies is:

1. Construction is slim and heavy - they beat surface film and water tension and sink well
2. Construction is heavy duty, they stand up well to trout teeth
3. The are visible
4. They are easy to manufacture (relatively)

Copper Johns

Anyway, it was a good exercise in refilling my depleted fly box. Hope the fish appreciate it!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Canadian Hunting & Fishing

I'm sort of in limbo at the moment, no major missions planned until Dec. But anyway, more hunting tales from dad who is in a big big country:

"Saturday morning, Bill and I got up at 3-30am to go on a goose hunt with a friend of his called Norm Palmer. We arrived at Norm's place at about 4-30 and hooked up his trailer and headed off into the dark for a place Norm had only briefly seen a few days before. Ater a long drive and a bit of tiki touring we finally arrived and set up at his chosen spot. It took about an hour to set out the 40 or so goose decoys, which were in perfect condition and then set up a round hay bale hide for Bill and myself and a layout blind for Norm. A brisk and rather cool northerly was blowing and Norm's mobile wind operated decoys looked great. We settled down and waited for it to get light and Bill and I saw that we'd been staked out on a huge lawn with two small lakes nearby and a very large and expensive house only about 100mts away. About a dozen flights of a hundred geese or more passed over head, heading south, honking and talking to each other. It was quite spectacular. Only one small group of about 7 birds flew past about 150mts away and that was as close as any came to us".

Imagine seeing 1,200 geese go by. Man that would be worth watching.

Now the fishing bit:

"In the afternoon, Bill and I went fishing on the lake without any luck. The trees had already started losing their leaves and the colours were also changing and a cold northerly was still blowing. I really enjoyed it out there on the water.

On Sunday morning, Bill and I went out again, this time to the southern end of the lake. We fished around a large island called Providence Island for small mouth bass and I managed to catch a little one about 12 inches long. They're a lovely looking fish, with green flanks and a bronzie coloured back and they put up quite a fight for the size taht they are. The island is owned by a Canadian company and they have driven pheasant shooting on it. There was a shoot on while we were there. How it really went, we've no idea as the island shore is wooded. We did see a couple of cock birds sneaking along the lake edge and there was no one in sight."

Sounds like there's plenty to get up to in Canuk land.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Duck hunting in Canada

Mum & dad are in Canada doing a trip of a lifetime, in fact they've been there about a month already and are due to fly home tomorrow. Dad and his brother, my uncle Bill, have spent a bit of time hunting waterfowl Canada style.

Some comments regarding how they do it:

"Duck shooting Canadian style is quite different from how we do it in NZ. They're allowed to shoot ducks on the water over here which I refused to do. All my ducks were taken on the wing after Bill and Dave had water shot. Also, Bill had said that they don't use duck calls over here and hope that the birds will decoy.I didn't use the call the 1st morning in deference to their wishes, but for the evening shoot I saw a flight of what looked like mallards 700-800 mts out over the lake and got to work on them. Much to Dave's and Bill's great supprise I decoyed them into the blocks 15mts from the hide. They took one each on the water and i got the last bird on the rise. They turned out to be black ducks which made the display even more special as far as the two of them were concerned. The next morning I did the same with 3 lots of mallards as well as a flight of blue bills. Why they should have responded to my calling, I don't know ,as their call is a burring sound. Anyway, later that morning, some other hunters paddled by and asked who the guying calling was and congratulated me after being told by Bill that I was a visiting NZer".

Sounds like its a pretty relaxed low intensity style of hunting. Given that (generalisation coming up) Canada one of the great homes of waterfowl in the world, I would have expected something a bit more full on. Anyway, they were going to go out after Canada Geese at some stage. I wonder how they got on?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Nik's season is underway

What's a saltie guide do when faced with 20 kt southerlies when his mate is coming up from Dunedin? Looks for freshie options. I'm jealous, they have 4 or 5 days chasing spottie mud fish on the East Cape region.

On the other hand, here's what the weather is forcing them to miss:

20 odd kg of kingi on fly. Yeah.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Walking Access Commission

In case you've not tried the mapping system, have a look here:

You'll need to register to have a play with the BETA version. It's quite good... except... I reckon that lots of land owners who always thought some sort of right of way such as Queen's Chain existed on their property, may suddenly realise that it doesn't. Will attitudes towards recreational users change as a result? I guess we wait and see....

Opening day

Ok, I've had time to lick my wounds, but I'm not quite ready to look at the dilapidated state of my fly box just yet. Met up with Milo at the appointed time and place, stuck my head over the bank and sheesh, the best bet of them all was running high & murky. Stikll, we popped in and said hi to the land owner before nipping down the confluence and fishing our way up. Milo with a big pink glo bug, me with a more sedate mix of hot bead UV inveigled nymphs. Nothing bit in the first run, or second, nor third... in fact nothing bit in the whole beat. I caught trees, rocks, snags and lost a bunch of flies. All with an outward good grace that I really wasn't feeling. We upped sticks and bolted over the hill to another spring creek, in similar order. Milo redeemed himself in the lower reaches, a skinny rainbow munching his glo bug. I lost a peewhacker. And a bunch of flies, fark I was out of practice.... we moved upstream and stopped in to see the farmer before hitting some better reaches. The water was clearing fast and the rain had stopped. Things were looking up.... we fished some holding water that had coughed up fish so many times in the past. By now we were fishing apart, leap-frog style... and still wondering where the pet fish were. Coming to a farm track I looked up as a bloke on a mule came across the stream above me. He had a sour look on his face and asked what I was doing on his land, and who had given permssion. I told I was fishing, was on Queen';s Chain and stuck out my hand. Told him that the bloke downstream had given permission to access the water, but this guy was having a bad day and asked me to head back from where I'd come. We parted ways and I wandered up to find Milo. As I told him about the exchange I'd had, he hooked into a nice 'bow and played it ashore. He was pretty pissed, in 15 years of fishing this water it was the first negative we'd ever had. So we moved back down to talk with the guy who had given us permission and his advice was to "tell the prick to f*ck off!". Probably not the best move really. I had to hit the road so Milo sought out Mr. Grumpy and set him straight on who had right of way. Some semblance of an agreement was reached for future occassions. Ok outcome I suppose.

The day really did remind me of past high water rain sodden openings. Roll on summer when the flies hatch, the fish sip from the surface... and my casting is up to scratch! At least Milo caught fish.


I'm not cooler than Justin Beiber. My daughter has changed her mind. Stoopid child.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Goose problems

The problem with geese is that they provide a focal point to polarize people. Last week I had a conversation with a guy up north (far north) who has taken to laying into the geese with a .308. I opined that shooting at geese in paddocks showed a complete disregard for safety; however he was quick to point out that:

1. He's in the arse end of nowhere, on his own land and knows who is there (no one)
2. He's sharing his own land and his spring grass, with 350 ravenous parries and 150 geese
3. F&G's gas guns scare geese for approx 2 days, after which they ignore them.
4. He hasn't got time, or money, to go about trying to move geese on with dispersal methods more agreeable to the average sportsman.

You have to feel sympathy for a guy who is watching his livelihood get turned into goose and parrie shit. The goose is divisive, isn't it?

What do you get for $360,000?

$360k could buy you many things. F&G's Eastern Whangamarino block has swallowed that much already, with only 3 ponds and the car park completed. The next round of funding from Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust (WCEET is due to be contested soon. With 16 ponds and a car park area to be funded, there is a feeling of being on the knife edge - if funding is not forthcoming we're pretty stuck. I say "we" because like it or not, any enduring or legacy business from old council is now ours.

Here's a link to progress

I'm not against this type of project at all, and in fact congratulate councilor Cocks and ex councilor Williamson on their resolute and unwavering ambition to get this done. I really hope that mistakes of the past have been learned from. Stuffing ponds in for the sake of stuffing ponds in, in turn stuffs the ducks. A gun per 3-4 hectares = bye bye ducks.

But, I really am feeling a bit mystified about where the funds have gone. For $1,800 we (our party) got a day's machine & driver time. By my calcs that would be 200 working days under the WCEET funding. 200 working days is more than 3 ponds worth. Ok, gotta acknowledge the crushing and clearing that happens prior to a sod being turned... but still, I'm uneasy with the dollar amount expended for the return.

If we follow the normal model of cost recovery at pond ballot time, then shooters winning the ballot ought to be ready to shell out (to date) $22,500 per pond. But whoops, there's more to come. I know I'm being glib, it is after all granted monies. But still this is worth more than a passing thought.

Monday, September 20, 2010

TT Madness

Tt asked me if I wanted to fish the National Pairs Competition at Lake Rotoaira in November. He's done it before, saying its a great way to learn from the best in the land. I must admit that I'm uncertain about it, getting my ass whipped by the best in the land is possibly someone's idea of sport (God's maybe?) hmmmm

There's nothing like getting in some practice, but again referring to the biggest baddest storm that we've seen for some time, you would think its somewhere between plain farkin crazy and absolute madness to set oneslf adrift on a sit on kayak and go fishing at the competition venue - wouldn't you??!! I mean we were getting blown over only 100 odd km away from the lake!

Check this out TT & Mate go fishing

Banana 1 (B1) was TT, I bet that B2 was that man-fish Nick Hannam. Practice makes perfect and I suppose that kayaks are sometimes intended for white water, but I really can't imagine casting in the wind that we had.

Maybe Rotoaira was more protected, but I also bet that it was a damn sight chillier up there too. At least they got some fish.

PPPP - Working Bee, Getting Stuck In

Let's set the scene a tad - the biggest storm in absolute ages in terms of sheer size (2500 KM squre) decided to come along and test the mettle of "The Men". This very same storm has created carnage from the top of North Island to the bottom of the south Waaaboooomfah

The Men - Tim, Mick, Craig & Mitch

What would make sane people go out in gale conditions with darn near sideways rain storms? Well, there was work that needed doing. Work involving the rearing of next year's pheasants. Vital work. Sanity saving work.

Shanks did the hard yards last year with the rearing pen, using as much existing infrastructure as possible. And what a mighty result he got. This year our brief was to expand the width of the pen, to take advantage of higher ground and hopefully avoid the lower part of the pen becoming boggy. We organised roughly 150m square of Rolawn roll out grassed turf, and Aunty, Cleaky and his young fellah had the job of transporting it. Thanks to Hislop & Barley for the use of the trailer, a big double axle flat bed. They rocked up to Dickie's on Friday afternoon, got loaded and set off into the teeth of the gale. When I spoke to Cleaky at about 5 they were about to be enveloped in a big black cloud... happy to say that they arrived safe and well. Then Aunty promptly turned around and drove home, apparently wires got crossed as a result of the forecast but anyway that was a hell of a big job to have out of the way. Thanks Simon!

When I drove past the top farm, (lets use real names for now), Craig, Tim and Quinn were hauling a load of top soil on the back of a trailer. I setltled in with a coffee and waited for them to arrive. Craig dumped the soil and then delivered the tractor back.

Top Soil

When he got back, Mick & Mitch rocked up, so after a coffee we picked up the tools and set off. Mitch got to work pulling down the materials on the outside of the old pen; given that we were expanding laterally everything had to come off. The rest of us set about spreading the topsoil, this is where our new turf (Rolawn, thanks to our kind sponsor) would be laid.

Ditch Digging

We then needed to dig a drain around the pen - and now for an amazing fact. This place receives 3-5 m of rain per annum. Consequently it is the home of mud. Thick mud. Some of the mud is yellow-orange. Other types of mud include grey treacle and pure slop. Some is slush. Some is puggy. Some has animal poo hues. If you want mud then you've come to the right place. Forgetting mud for a second (only a second mind you, it is an enduring and somewhat central theme and "stays with you" long after you've gone home) - it's what's underneath that is really interesting. As we dug we hit rotten rock, possibly old metal spread for the race but maybe not. More likely substrate. This was under a couple inches of mud and sludge and it was dry. It was crumbly and friable.So all that rain just hits, sinks in a bit, and then rolls off. Amazing.

The old pen, note the slush & mould

Digging the drain took a while, but we got there. Meanwhile Mitch was in deconstruction mode and  (remember this is in a gale) we began to dig out the old corrugated iron sides of the pen, which were well dug in to stop rats and pests getting in. We then began to lay the turf, and this was time consuming as we butted up the edges, mostly laid the 'grain' in the same direction ;) and got it bedded. Sooner than you'd believe, it was lunch time. The skinnies (Craig, Mitch & Tim) needed refueling. Mick and me were all good, for we knew that real men carry lunch with them. My lunch is bigger than Mick's I think. With all the beer I'm drinking lately, I will soon have the biggest lunch in the world!!!

Old walls are down, turf is rolled out

After an hour's break with food and coffees we headed back down. Mick, Craig and Mitch began to dig in the new corner posts, while Tim and I began to shift a wall inside the rearing area to allow better airflow and more light. (UV kills all sorts of bad bugs). Things were going well and all to plan - normally this is the precursor to a major cluster, but not this time. We didn't get a vehicle stuck. No one got their leg chopped off (Craig's chainsaw is by far the biggest I ever used, bar is something like 40") and the good karma stayed with us. The boys were going hard at the new posts, and Tim and I got the new wall up (hope no one leans on it) and then laid a new plywood floor, all the better for cleaning as the existing pitted concreate held poo like a blanket holds poo. We finished rolling the rest of the turf and then before we knew it, it was 5pm. Down tools.
Driving in new posts & demoing the old wall

Scope of work

Still a power of work needs to be done (prolly not in this order):

- Build new outer walls around the pen (dig in corru. iron)
- Biuld up the walls with chicken mesh
- Lay shade cloth over the top (like 140m of the stuff)
- Brace outer posts
- Lay wires for cloth to sit on
- Plant lupin seeds in boggy spots
- Go hard on the trapping
- Fix up feeders

I can see another working bee before long.

We all went back up to the house and had a big meal of sausages (goose & duck), pasta, onions and mashed spuds and a few coldies before heading back out into the relentless weather to see if we could bag a piggie. We stopped at Pig Crossing, disgorged from the Prado (knew 8 seats would come in handy one day, even if only 6 of us aboard) and while Craig took Mick & Mitch on a walk, Tim his boy and I went cross country to the top baits. Walking around in howling wind and rain with only slight moon was GREAT. Just love being in the elements on a mission. Unfortunately to get to the baits in the howling wind was difficult, so by the time we tracked around them we were sure our scent had been taken to them. There was nothing at all on the baits, although Tim reckoned he'd heard a piggie squeal, probably as it got out scent.

If you want to get ahead, get a hat (Happy birthday Craig)

On the walk back to the car I shot a possum, fun with the 7mm08.

Tim and I stayed up watching "Watchmen", a real cracker. Up at 6am, on the road at 6.30 and back in the big smoke. The mud on my driveway is a good reminder of a decent day's work done.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mid September

I've mentioned elsewhere that September is a "layover" month on the outdoors-person's calendar; for us in AW our gamebird season is finished for a start. But looming on the horizon is the trout opening. For the first year in quite a number, I'll be out and about chasing an early season fish. The last time I fished opening was with Milo and cuzzie Paul.

We fished a 'local' fishery for resident brownies, and as i remember we did ok despite the rain... which isn't present in the photos. We landed 4 or 5 fish ... I think. I don't remember the year, probably 4 or 5 years ago?

Those fish sure are pretty, and quite ravenous in the early season. This opening we're revisiting the scene of the crime from years and years ago where we fished side by side a small creek that hold good flow prior to summer. I expect skinnyish 'bows, but hopefully the brownies will be home and hungry.

This is the best I've felt about fishing for a while. I'd never say that trout are easy, far from it in fact, but I lost the drive to chase them. I think its back.


I plan to enjoy it. Go Mid September!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Game: To give or not to give

I started on this idea awhile ago after the Close Up episode prompted by Guy's game dinner. Tim and I talked about this the other day, which is why the unfinished draft has percolated up my thought ladder. History: given that shot game was to be served at a restaurant, Guy got an opinion from AWF&G's Legal Counsel on whether serving pheasant from Lakelands was on the light side of the law. Apparently not - Bruce Stainton's view was that the giving of game, or any part of game, to persons other than immediate family is illegal. That part of the law needs a bit of work, not that anyone would be in any danger of getting sprung for giving a handful of feathers to a fly tying mate, or at least one would hope not. Where it got fuzzy was that a chef came along saying that he'd willingly pay for shot pheasant from preserves and all of a sudden the article took a dangerous curve. The sentiment expressed was that thousands of birds were being wasted/thrown in holes and would be better sold. Not true; but none the less it is hard to defend a situation where the people doing the shooting aren't doing the cleaning and eating*.

I'm slightly cold on the idea of selling those preserve shot birds even though we know it works overseas.

But I'm colder on a law that calls me criminal if I give a duck to a neighbour, soup kitchen or old people's home.

A Law tweak is needed, but extra vigillence is needed to ensure that the change does what its meant to.

*This includes all those parrie and goose culls where the meat is sometimes wasted.

The Evening Goose

Friday morning we decided to have a lie in. I woke early enough at 6.30 and got up and pottered around a bit, but we really didn't make a move until well after 7. After a brekkie of pancakes, banana and syrup (go Andy!) we were ready to hang gear out to dry (the heavy weather had passed over) and sharpen knives for a goose filleting session. AJ, Andy & me made short work of it as Tim degrassed the blinds. Then we drove to one of Tim's mate's places to dispose of the bodies in a pit and back for a coffee. We decided on a trip around Lake Wairarapa - this being a sort of "come to god" experience for me as I'd dreamed about the place for years. Stopping for pies and beverages (this is a road trip remember) and for AJ to talk to the local girls, we then cut south to the lake. We drove the Western side first. You could call this side the 'civilised' side, with paddocks running right down to the waters edge, green pasture, and cattle and sheep farms. Tim explained that you had to be 'in the know' to hunt there, all highly territorial (seemingly mirroring the Lake Waikare scenario).

Andy Tim & AJ sucking up the beauty

The Southern end of the lake is where the outlet is, a barrage controlling water flow into the diverted Ruamahunga River. Another geography lesson, I had no idea how close the Ruamahunga flowed. now we were getting into serious waterfowling territory. The Eastern side is far swampier, with willow chokes, raupo back waters and all round great territory. We drove around some famous sites, checking the DU reclaimed area (all a bit mish mash), the famous Boggy Pond, and stopped at Kilmore Lodge, a F&G owned hunting HQ available for hire.

Not many waterfowl were present, we saw a pair of geese over there and a few swan and ducks. Heading north again we drove back to Masterton and started preparing for an evening jump shoot on a farmer's pond.

Pond doesn't really describe it, figure on a small lake of about 120m long by 50m wide with tall trees on the northern edge, and enclosed by hills on both the North and Southern sides. The Eastern edge had a row of tall poplar like trees, bare of leaves. The Western end comprised lowish scrub, some smaller trees and marshy paddock with rushes. We slogged our way through slush and mud up the hill to the lake, and on inspection found several geese in residence. Tim walked the southern edge to move the birds (hopefully back towards us) and 3 unseen geese sprang and came towards us. Me AJ and Andy were hiding in the ruushes and when AJ called the shot we jumped up and took them out. I got 2 and AJ peeled the other, Andy not able to shoot as my mellon was in the way. We then took up positions, Andy & AJ under trees on the Northern Edge (stiff wind at their backs) while Tim and I covered the NE corner. After a longish wait (30 mins?) I heard a honk over the garbling of a flock of resident magpies and called the lads that geese were on their way. AJ sparked up his caller and soon 3 geese crested the rise in front of us, turned into the wind and barrelled in. Andy and AJ smoked them with some impresseive shooting, and Max the dog was soon in action. Later another 5 showed up and came in over Tim and me; but we let them come in and the boys opened up again, this time knocking down 2 and Tim pulled off a GIANT of a shot, dropping one at an easy 55m out in the paddock. It was breath taking. The other pair swung away caliing like lost sheep. AJ socked the calling to them and they swung back over us. This time it was my turn to take out a very high bird, seeing a goose drop like a sack of spuds is pretty impressive to say the least.

With 9 in the bag we called it a night. Max had retrieved magnificently, the shooting was spot on, and now we had a km long trudge in the dark (who forgot their headlamp then?) carrying 9 freakin heavy ass birds.

Back at the truck we chatted, then headed home for soup, steak & veges with Tim as our dinner guest. Another wicked shoot. We cleaned the birds that night so as to be ready for our early departure.

What a great couple of days.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Road Trip Report

Got back yesterday at 5.30pm having left Masterton at 8.30, a slowish drive punctuated with stops here and there - I even got a couple of casts into the TT River as we stopped and hooked up with a couple of AJ's mates. Reflecting now on what a good bunch of people kiwi's generally are, and how lucky we are too with the range of outdoor opportunities still open to us.

Backing up a little, picked up AJ quite early on Weds morning, timing the run to avoid traffic. We made Hamilton in good time, arriving early to grab Andy from Tamahere. Piling his stuff into the boot I was glad that only 3 of us were going, we couldn't have got any more stuff aboard. Included was 3 shotguns, boxes of ammo, 2 chilly bins, AJ's layout blind, bags of gear, waders, gummies.. well she was chocka. Onwards to Taupo for gas, lunch and to pick up some .22 ammo, and see AJ's life size photo on the outside of one window. Porn star. Then onwards, turning off at Vinegar Hill (seeing very few Rathmoy pheasants), across to Ashurst, through Manuwatu Gorge, Magatainoka (Hail! To the Tui Brewery) Paihiatua, Ekatahuna, and finally into Masterton. We found Tim's place alive with kids and visitors, were made very welcome, and then unpacked our stuff. We set off to find our bearings and gather grass for the layouts. Tim showed us Peter Jackson's place and we were soon gathering handfuls of the greenest grass possible. Tim explained that he'd tracked down a population of birds using a paddock by the sea, and that we'd have to be there and set up well before daylight in order to meet them as they arrived. Up at 3.20, had a munch of weetbix and packed the Toyota with guns, food, shell dekes etc. Tim's ute was stacked out with full body dekes and the blinds and quad bike were on the trailer. We shipped out and drove for an hour or so out of town. Arriving at a paddock gate after a number of twists and turns we loaded the quad and trailer and somehow got ourselves out to the spot. Checking a lagoon out Tim conveyed that the only thing that could have gone wrong just had - the birds were already sitting on the lagoon. He was gutted, seriously gutted. Even in the dark I could sense his head dropping. But press on we did, 4 hands making the blind setting up and decoy laying out a simplistic task. Tim took the quad back under cover and we were hunting.

Layouts all set (Andy & AJ there somewhere)

After a couple of hours with the occasional honk heard in the distance, Tim was definitely unhappy. Then lying back and looking out I suddenly saw a pair of birds 500m away and locked up - they were coming straight in! All of us were back in our blinds under cover and just waiting. Tim called for Andy to take the birds and take the shot, and we launched ourselves out of the blinds.... waiting for Andy to shoot. Locked in as they were, the geese landed out by the furthest dekes set 25m away. They were mowed down as they took to the air and we had birds on the ground!

Tim's actually smiling!

Andy was stoked with his first goose/geese and gave it up for a quick photo.

Then it went quiet for quite some time. Tim and AJ went for a walk to a lagoon to put some birds off, there were between 50-70 just hooning around and we wanted birds in the air. While they were away a mob came into view. They circled us twice in range but never commited, and on the second pass I saw one flinch badly - straight away I knew he'd seen something amiss. The full beverage bottles we'd placed on the ground beside our blinds had been spotted. I took that one pretty hard to be honest, all the reading I'd done told me that's exactly what would happen. Silly beginner's error. So we whipped around making the place tidy, picking up some empty shells from the first shots and waited for the lads to come back. They'd got quite close to the geese which had all taken off and flown out to see. The wind was pretty mild so they were safe out there.

After another couple of hours, 4 birds came in from the North. With AJ calling they committed early, and all 4 stayed with us. Then a pair joined us so we had 8 in the bag - things were shaping up nicely. The time had just turned 12; and a Northerly front was approaching.

Tim meantime made several trips to the lagoon to put up birds. He was working hard for us and it began to pay off. The weather steadily worsened for the birds, with the wind turning and steadying there were now white caps on the sea and birds were moving. We had some good trial and error moments - with one flock approaching on a pass AJ asked if we were getting stuck in and given they were only 20m up I said
"Oh goodness me yes!" And me and AJ started peeling them as Tim was saying "NO!". We put down 3 of the 8 odd and knocked the crap out of another (I put down 2 and wounded the third) but Tim told us if we had let them come around again there was a real chance of all 8 staying. Lesson learned. (gulp). By mid afternoon we had a good bag down on the deck.

We got better and better as the day went on, not missing too many Chances. Tim grabbed a chance of his own when 2 birds charged in unseen after a lull and he cleaned them up beautifully. After a while we got out to take photos... doh!

I say "doh" because I was pushing to get photos while the light was good. (Shots in the field beat photos in the back yard). But also because birds were in the air. Leaving bodies lined up belly upwards while birds approach is not a good look, however in they came! Charging back into the blinds we claimed a couple of flocks, one which included AJ's "snow goose"

AJ & The Snow Goose (Bluddy Feral!)

The domestic bird had been seen hanging with geese offshore, so here was the evidence that birds would move back to where they'd been before.

Great Dekes make a difference

We packed it in at 5 or so, with dark coming we wanted to have the gear sorted (24 full bodies, 24 shells, 4 blinds, rubbish etc) before dark. Andy, AJ and I walked back to the vehicles talking about the day we'd just had. I was elated and I'm sure the lads were too. 35 birds on the deck, 33 of them since just before 12. Those early hours without much action just had to be gutsed out.
We packed the vehicles and got back to Masterton for a late dinner, showeer, drinks and hit the hay happy as pigs in shit.