Monday, June 28, 2010

The final weekend

Asked AndyH the question - Ducks? Being the final weekend of the duck hunting season, I would have expected quite a big crew to go along to the ponds. In the event, only dad, Andy and a mate of his did. The swamp was flooded, with water up to the first step. That's always cool to see.

So, email from Andy said:

I got a drake Saturday – small morning flight but the evening was dead. Floods in the swamp – it was very cool. Got up to over the bottom step.

Sunday was good. Mark (workmate) and Dick shot one each early on, Dicks AWOL. I got a spoonie drake (should have had the brace) while they were out retrieving and then later Mark got another drake.

So many birds flying it was insane! Called at least 10 groups around but no takers. One or two missed chances but mostly stayed too high.

Ended the season 343 ducks taken.

Was good.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Positive results

3 am is not a really civilised hour to get out of bed for stuff other than hunting or fishing; so doing it for work really jolted my sense of humour. The 6.30 to Gold Coast wasn’t too bad a flight, but checking in at the hotel @ 9 am Au time to find the room wouldn’t be ready until 2pm was a drag. Anyway, the conference was special for me, I haven’t got absolutely plastered for more years than I can remember, to put the situation in context I watched the rugby and can’t remember the second half of the match at all. Something to do with copious rum. Anyway, got a text from dad that he’s got a limit at the Willow Pond which included shooting a flock of 5 with 2 shots. He got 6 on Sunday as well. Now, more really positive stuff.

The little Ruawai Preserve pheasant syndicate has revolved around Craig’s efforts. He wanted to grow a self sustaining population of pheasants and set about the do-it-yourself-animal-husbandry side of things with help from Tim (heat & lighting), Guy (general advice), James (grunt work) and my humble input was a mercy dash to build a release pen. We all threw in a few bucks and Craig took it on as a project, growing and releasing 400 odd birds.

The growing shed & pen

The main pen

The release pen

Maturing poults

The past weekend was the syndicate’s second shoot day, but given that James had work commitments he snuck in for an earlier hunt. So Tim and his mate Simon nipped down for a day and had a pleasant few hours walking up birds with good results.

Craig & James' day

Craig, Tim & Simon


Credits for photos include Craig & James (Empire Safaris).

I reckon Craig’s efforts could easily be a blueprint for those who want to give it a go, and the results speak for themselves.

And my weekend? I don’t remember much after the first half of the All Blacks vs. Wales. Apparently when inebriated I’m a good public speaker. Joke of the day;

“What’s the difference between a debt collector and a flat head? (fish name changed to be meaningful to the ockers).

One’s a bottom dwelling scum sucker, and the other’s a flat head”.

Ho ho, oh the humanity.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I’ve been a bit busy this week: Sunday had a driven day at Lakelands and had a good day although I was tired as, for the short week (the week prior) it was a bloody long 4 days. Saturdays AWF&G meeting added to my ’enlightenment’. We needed to know how the budget and Operational Working Plan ‘hang together’ – i.e. who decides how much, and where funds are being spent. And how to influence fund allocation. All right, so under normal circumstances I would expect that an induction process would be held for new councillors, so that by now (meeting 3) we would really be in the swing of things. But alas, prior to meeting 2, in April, was the time to put forward new initiatives. How? By putting together working papers, gathering momentum at club level (remits) and then pushing forward to council for discussion, then approval or … not. Without that understanding everything could stand still. Frustratingly its 6 months wasted. On the other side of the ledger, it’s been an investment in trying to understand the system. At least now, after a fairly fluent description of historical events and current funding structure, I/we know that there is no money in the till for projects other than those funded by grants, from trusts etc. You could say that F&G block pond holders keep winning and winning. My personal belief is different, I view the hold put over them to be a restriction that I’m glad I don’t face. The budget does have allocation at a $ per rate for overall projects such as “game bird management”, “compliance” etc etc as laid out in Schedule A of the OWP (which is a more detailed view than Schedule B, which is laid out at a level that could be deemed a “public document”). Either way, in my opinion every stake holder who buys a license should make themselves very familiar with this document. So I asked, how does the next grand scheme or idea become a reality from a perspective of gaining approval and/or funding? Well, it all comes down to preparation and the budget calendar. The idea must be put forward, discussed, costed and driven into the central budget, which is then put forward to NZ Council – there is a contestable fund that is badgered for that can cover projects/schemes costing over and above the day to day running costs for “doing business”. Wow. So either deliberately, or unknowingly, we’ve missed an entire budget cycle. Bear in mind here that I didn’t have a grand scheme to contribute or promote, but at least we now know how. On it goes. One neat thing, this week I’ve been doing game bird harvest surveys, as have AJ and Guy. And man, has it been enlightening. Due to my “technological challenges” I’ve managed to screw up their on-line surveys (used wrong survey period, double entered same hunters – doh, doh DOH). But it’s just great to have an excuse to talk with some hardened and some not so hardened hunters. What I can say is that if you have a good spot, put in time and effort (especially time) then good tallies are there for the taking. Some of the really good hunters are keeping bag diaries and can tell date, time, species taken, birds lost – the works. Neat.

Off to gold Coast tomorrow. Work, not fun.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


My papers arrived today, postmarked 3rd June. One would normally expect 2 day delivery from NZ Post, which would have landed them in my letterbox Saturday earliest.

Here's some back of napkin scratchings, for those who are interested:

AWF&G Income: $900,000
Wages & Salaries (inc "Superannuation") $461,000 (5 staff).So over half of all income is gone before anything is done. What is done? Projects are done. What projects? Swamp 'refurbishment' projects mostly. Without a much deeper dive, you could say that approximately a million bucks a year are being tipped into swamps. (The swamps that are now closed to hunting). Value for money? You answer that question....

The weekend's weather looked pretty good. Northerly system, wind, rain - the full noise. I met dad at the landing Friday night and we set off, reaching the hut to catch up with Rick and Jason. We set about a meal of fallow in garlic, with a red wine and afterwards set about a bottle of Glenfiddich. God I slept badly. It rained off and on and in no time at all the alrm went. Up for a coffee and biscuits then we loaded the punt and set off for Puru (aka The Graveyard). Not sure how many ducks have been taken there, but of the season total of over 320 birds at least 75% would have come from there. Took forever to set up Rick's 24 dekes, 3 flasher splashers, 2 Pulsators, Robo and wonderduk. Was quite light and almost 7 am beforre all was ready. A few shots here and there. I spotted 4 ducks off near the Crossfire (unattaended) and laid into the hail calls, and they swung towards us. They circled several times before I called the shot and we dropped 3 - all greys. After that we worked hard and added to the bag here and there. We finished with 6 in the bag and unusually for us lost 3 around the place. Paris worked hard but with all the additional water the ducks had plenty of escape routes. Hundreds upon hundreds of swan were around - we were to find out why later... Back to the hut for lunch (game stew) and then we got a vist from the Haywards, Lloyd reporting that there are no ducks up their way so they had gone rooster chasing for nil result. They had moved "100" swan off Pullford's pond, which had scared a bunch more hence the sight of so many around. Jase and me went up to the landing to grab Tim & Quinn and we arrived back to put dekes into Bollocks for their morning hunt. I went across to the night spot for the arvo/evening shoot while Tim & Quinn shot the Prang-dang's pond and the other guys went to (go on, guess) puru. An early burst of activity at about 4.20 saw them get a duck, while I screwed up on a pair. Was quite excited to be buzzed by a brace of spoonies who departed when the others fired (getting a single duck). Then quite a decent lull, before darkness fell and the place livened up. I got a brace that nipped across, then as I was searching for the second bird 2 brace visited but shied away from my head lamp. I didn't find the bird after 15 minutes of searching but decided to visit again in the morning. Back at base we had a great beef randang curry and sat around shooting the breeze. I hit the hay and slept like a baby. The alarm woke us at 5.15 and again we were off to Puru, dad wisely sleeping in. Despite the wind and rain we were buzzed by a single grey which landed behind the maimai. I got it with a dodgy shot past the big oak behind the maimai, narrowly avoiding hitting the trunk. it was the smallest grey I'd ever seen. Took Paris for a wonder to the night spit and found my downed bird from the night before, lying belly up not 5 feet from where I'd been searching. That was it for the day. Tim, Quinn and I pulled out and after cleaning the birds we packed and hit the road at 11, having raised dad from his slumber. Rick and Jase stayed on before deciding to pull the pin at about 1. They moved to AJ's place in the Kopuka and got 7 birds for the arvo.

Well, that's my duck season all but over. A bit light on duck trips but still there's roosters to be had after June and perhaps a goose trip in August.

Friday, June 4, 2010


It is now officially seven days until the next AWF&G council meeting. Where are my agenda items minutes of previous meeting? By law, they must be here today. They were late last time as well. I know that when I signed up I was told by the guy that was brought in to lead us through resolution of conflicts of interest that to the outside world we must present a united front. Whatever, this is seriously taking the piss and I'm completely f*cked off.

My blog, my view, my words.

This mode of business is a serious constraint on getting anything serious done. I'm not interested in how to deliver flyers to farmers. I'm not interested in some poultry farm being visited by wild ducks. That shit is operational and should be handled by staff... but how the hell are we supposed to do anything about policy?

If asked what AWF&G "is doing" or "has achieved", all I can say is they've dug a bunch of holes in the Eastern Whangamarino, along the way somehow acquiring a tractor.

Oh, and the holes are too close together. No one will get any shooting.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

6 Greys

Pop's total today was 6 Greys. Could it be that they are moving with the fresh water flushing the swamp? He said he fired 8 shots, 2 were to knock over wounded birds on the water. He finished his limit yesterday as well.

Roll on friday night.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Dad txted that he had 4 birds down and had missed a few more. Something along the lines of "I'm shooting like sh*t".