Monday, June 27, 2011

Closing day

High Tea at the Laingham on Saturday old bean... a small concession to pay for getting in a final duck hunt on Sunday. I launched The Booger at about 7.45 on Saturday night and headed down to the hut. There were a fair number of hunters out and about judging by the parked cars. Got to the hut and had a beer and a bacon wrapped pheasant breast - YUUMMMM. Discovered a hole in the floor where some assholes had attempted to break in. Ass wipes. After the lads had scoffed their dinner, me Tim & Andy headed out for a possum shoot with the.22, silenced and using sub sonics. We got up to the end pond and promptly disturbed quite a large pig. It got away as we tried to close the gap - would have needed to shoot it in the eye anyway, not an easy feat with a rifle with no sights! We got a fat buck possum at The Willow, after a small fusillade of shots including some interesting ricochets...

Next morning was the first real winter's morning of the year. Cool and clear. The ducks moved at about 7, and it really was half light. The Hollands and me were at Puru. We had a reasonable shoot, knocking down 5 birds. We retrieved 4 of them.

Then one of those special swamp moments. Bitterns are pretty rare, we see them from time to time but this morning we had a pair flying around...

And then another pair... dear reader, if you are sensitive to terrible language, please don't watch this.....

You were warned. We packed it in and set about cleaning up for another year. The weekend's bag was 14 birds, taking the total past 200 for the seaon off the ponds. Home by 3, cleaned up and stowed away by 4.

A mint closing day. Now for the pheasants and geese....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Where there's a Will...

Every post needs a heading. Will is Andy H's mate and we had arranged for him to grab a ride down to the ponds. By the time he arrived on Friday evening, The Booger was loaded and ready, and all he had to do was get changed and chuck his gear in the car. It rained most of the way down, but the trip was uneventful. Launching was easy, in fact everything was great. Visions of steaming down the river triumphantly soon turned to custard when I couldn't get the motor started. Aha! But I had packed the operating manual, so I was fine! I giggled smugly to myself that I had it sussed. But no, after re-tweaking my arm that Simon ripped off a month ago I had to pull out the cell, Call Andy, and ask for a tow. He arrived soon after (I was still cranking the motor) and then Will jumped into the Rocket, we got the boats tied off and away we went. I sat in the stern steering and making buddabuddabudda boat engine noises. Embarrassing. Anyway I gave the motor another pull and .. the motor started! Yelled to the boys, untied, and off we went. Anyway, enough boat stuff. The hunting party was dad, Andy, me, Will and a chap called Benno from Germany, and his dog Tana. Me and Andy headed out to the Willow Pond to set some dekes and came back in for a late dinner (10pm). Hit the hay and had a damn good sleep. Got up at 4.30 (Was wide awake) and got the kettle on. Made breakfast, then dad and me headed out to the Willow Pond to get set up. My Robo had tipped over in the wind overnight so was quite surprised that it came to life first flick of the switch. We had quite a wait until it was light enough to see ducks. The Thames boys were in their pond. The wind was howling up high, and the ducks were answering the call and diving in at us. Not a huge shoot, but our bag was pleasing, made up completely of Grey ducks.

Willow Pond

We headed in to the hut at 11.30 and had lunch, the went for a walk under the trees to check out some old hidey holes that used to be so good before DOC came along and poisoned the willow trees. Andy and I headed off to find a particular little spot and picked up a jumping Grey on the way. Andy did a blood hound impression to find the bird. Finally we turned around after we realised we must have missed the spot and then inadvertently found it, marks went into the GPS. It was getting on for 4pm, so we headed back down to the hut and got ready for a night hunt. Dad came with me and we went across to the night spot. The evening was great. We picked up another Grey, and had a few more shots. As it grew darker a huge thunderstorm approached. The lightning show was amazing, orange and purple blasts streaked across the sky. It was coming our way. i knew that as Will and me had to leave we were going to get some weather, and it unleashed as we got in the boat. The drive up to the ramp was like driving through a wall of water, we got soaked. We pulled the boat and no more than a minute into our car trip the rain stopped and the sky cleared.....

German Visitor

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Some liquefaction

A bit of footage, not that impressive I suppose.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The shaken city

Ok so this post isn't about fish, pheasants, ducks, dogs or mates but because I experienced some weird shit I'm going to have to write about it. First of all, I say RESPECT to the people of christchurch, who have hung in there through the series of earthquakes that have cut their city and homes to the bone, these people deserve a medal for standing up and fighting. Yesterday me and another pair of amateur comedians flew into ChCh. Our travel was pre-booked on Air NZ; as it happens they were the only airline operating due to the volcanic dust cloud from Chile's exploding Puyehue volcano. Personally I long ago feel that I learned not to mock god, so when Amateur Comedian #1 (let's call him Malcolm) said as we drove to the airport "let's roll the camera forward, and not be able to get home because of a big earthquake..." I should have just claimed mild to serious sickness and gone home. But he was driving. I guess I'm AC#2. AC#3 we'll call Stella. Stella was quiet, eerily quiet. Well, we landed in ChCh no problems. We got to our conference venue. Being the organisers meant we got quite busy setting out info packs and what not. 1pm was kick off. Guests and delegates were arriving. I got settled in and was chatting to some old codger about this and that when I heard what I thought was a low flying plane approaching, sort of that low turboprop hum like a C-130 is coming over. Seconds later it was all on as a quake hit. Old codger yells "FUCK!!!!!!" and leaps up. It would have been amusing under normal circumstances but I actually thought he was rather restrained. We sheltered in a doorway through to the kitchen area, luckily at that point the conference hall wasn't very full. As always, the show must go on, but some of the guests were slightly fretful and a couple were full on basket cases. News came through that it was a 5 point something on the Richter Scale. Guests and delegates filed in. We kicked off. Our guest speaker, Sir michael Hill wasn't able to land as the airport had shut down while the runway was checked. The organiser kicked off the speeches. Then the National Bank bloke welcomed the crowd. Told us how Chch was resilient, the people proud and staunch, and how business was growing again. The Microsoft bloke gave his presso, and then Sir Michael arrived and started up his chat. 160 odd people began to warm to his life story. What happened next was totally unannounced.... The whole room just began to lurch sideways, up and down, the roar was not quite deafening but pretty loud, stuff was falling & breaking and people were genuinely panicking to get out. The human condition is interesting. Personally I could see 200 odd people running towards big glass windows and all I could think was "idiots you're about to be turned into mince", but that didn't happen. The building was oldish, build of timber and flexing like a crazy thing. I was looking at the ceiling, wooden beams and boards and it was twisting like a demented possessed building... I was in a service doorway through to the hotel kitchen area and it was getting the bash, glasses and crockery flying and something hit me in the head. Still don't know what that was.

And then the craziest things... I walked outside and people were running this way and that, getting in their cars and departing (some were laying down rubber, kid you not). Took me a while to figure that they were simply being smart and geeting home before the roads gridlocked. We stood around and watched the most bizarre thing ever - liquefaction. Unheard of 10 months ago, but now a common descriptor of this silt laden water that simply oozes aout of the ground.

Check this out.

I got sent some vid by a colleague but have lost it, when I get it back I'll post.

As I said, RESPECT to the people of Christchurch, I'm pretty sure the novelty has worn off for them.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Footage of that big kingi from last october

Freakin big kingfish on flyrod - 8kg tippet

Some colourful language in there.... rates as NZ's best fly rod capture of a kingi

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rain, wind, weather & timing

The weather coming up to the long weekend was looking good for a duck or 2. North to north east winds, gale strength, a bit of rain (just a bit) and almost no moon... it would be fair to say that I was looking forward to getting to the swamp just a teeny bit.

Metvuw made it look quite appealing, if you're into crappy weather.

Me, dad, Tom, Paul and Paul's mate Bryan were there, dad picking us up from the landing at about 8.30. We got our gear in and then set out decoys, my job wasn't that big as dad had put dekes in at Park. The wind was howling and spits of raim came blasting out of the darkness. Back to the hut for a few drinks and a bit of chit chat before settling in to listen to the rugby. Buggered if I could sleep, the bottle of V that I drank on the way down stayed with me. In between dad's snoring, the rats squealing at each other (a fairly playful pair) and whatnot, I only managed a couple of hours sleep. Up and at em at 5, I felt pretty seedy but we got out in time to turn the electric dekes on. At 6.25 a couple of ducks apperaed on set wings then hit the afterburners. 5 minutes later, they or another pair blasted out of the dark and set wings into the pond behind the Park maimai. I fumbled around for my headlamp - it was darker than the inside of a whale's intestine. I slid out of the maimai, hit the headlamp and scanned for the ducks... no burst of wings until I found them right at the back of the pond. They jumped, I fired where  thought they were jumping and  got a scotch double, then had to finish the hen which was not well hit. 2 ducks in the bag, a promising start! Dad cleaned up the next couple and my shooting just deteriorated. Paul Tom & Bryan had a couple of chances, but despite the promise of the weather (still the wind blasted and the rain fell) the ducks simply failed to materialise in any numbers. We stuck at it until midday, dad and I bagging 5, the others getting a single.

After lunch the boys set off for a walk with dad to see if they could drive any birds from the Western Front; tom and I elected to stay back for a nana nap. I couldn't sleep at all. So after a while I got ready and headed out to catch up with dad and see if anything was up. Not much doing, just hundreds of Grey Teal milling about. At 4pm I headed over to the night spot, and logged its position into the GPS... with no moon and incessant wind the usual navigation signs were absent. Ducks started moving at 5.15. Nothing would come to the call at all, so it was a matter of staying vigilant. At 5.55 out of the dark a pair pitched in just above the willow line. I hit the first and the second dived in and landed, putting a small willow between us. I stood and walked into the darkness and up it got, but no way could I see it until it got over tree height, and 3 shots followed it out. Headlamp on I picked up the dead bird and stashed it in a tree. 3 minutes later a pair raced over on set wings - I knew they would circle back and as they did I pulled on the lead bird - miss, miss, pulled on following bird, killed it and the killed the lead bird with the 4th shot.

I lamped around and found the birds and then resumed but at 6.15 knew the hunt was over - a couple of frantic minutes, pure gold. On the way back I tried self navigating but the GPS revealed that I was circling.. doh. Got back to the hut absolutely stuffed. The Kobuk neoprene jacket was great in the conditions but the walk back soaked me. At least I was warm. Fish pie for dinner -yummmm. Sleep came easily.

Sunday was quieter than Saturday. The weather was clearing but little (apart from teal) was flying. The boys down at Puru cleaned up a nice mallard drake but that was the finall tally for the morning.

Another sweet couple of days at the ponds... someone should have told the ducks they were supposed to be flying though.

No photos, a bit too wet to take out the camera.