Northland has possibilities… so many possibilities. Hunting canadas seems to be one of the last I’d normally think of behind fishing, fishing and fishing, but when you hear the occasional whisper about the numbers of relatively unpressurised geese way up there then it makes you think. Even then, you need local knowledge and land access. I was lucky to be invited on a Northland goose hunt by a guy who I met recently, and who is an avid pheasant chaser. His home is on the Karikari peninsular and he is from one of the old families, with many generations having lived in the area.
I got away pretty early Friday morning, and by 9 was in Whangarei for coffee, by 10 passing through Moerewa which was positively heaving – locked out meat workers were making a big noise. Just after 11 I arrived to meet up with the forum guys Zharn, Matt and Tony who had arrived the previous day. Goose info was quickly passed around, several hundred spotted here, a few more there and we decided to go out scouting. A quick trip to a high spot and a few other places where geese had been the day before – nothing home except piles of goose shit. Matt passed the comment that since we were here we may as well hunt (original plan called for Saturday morning hunt) so we got our gear together (Matt has a sweet trailer that eats up his dekes, layouts and beer) and headed into a field to set up.
I’d hurriedly picked a rubbish sack of grass the night before so set about grassing my blind which to be fair was far lighter than the shadow grass and Max-4 patterns the other guys had.
We set out about 60 dekes and sat back to wait. I tried to fire up my camera…. NO! The battery was flat, and I realised I’d not charged it since before the Whirinaki trip… doh. We could hear geese on the lake behind where we were set up and see more, further down the shoreline. The wind was a stiff north easterly and it all looked promising with the dekes set on a small rise while we were tucked in a hollow. Man it got hot, so off with gumboots and socks… We waited for an hour before Zharn decided to go and scout. After half an hour an almighty ruckus went up as geese lifted off and wheeled around further down the treeline. Most headed out to the head land, but a number got above the shelter belt our paddock was protected by. Matt and I put on the calling and 4 peeled our way, followed by another 30. They came from over our left shoulders… my leg was shaking, my calling was reduced to spaniel-like yips and yelps, but hell, they were talking right back… the 4 set and came in but at the last second flared overhead, Matt who was calling the shot told us to leave them… and in came the 30 odd. Not as low as the 4 but we got into them. I killed 2 stone dead with the first 2 shots and hit the third bird twice to claw him down still alive. It was epic, as exciting as anything I’d ever done. Piako style bird busting with the birds 25m up isn’t what some goose hunters like doing but damn, peeling the big birds out of the sky is just the most awesome shooting experience ever – period. Tony who’d never shot a goose before nailed his first and Matt got a couple so by the time Zharn got back we were pretty happy boys. We told and retold the moment and Zharn came back to see what we’d got. The afternoon just melted away and we were chatting when I spotted 6 birds sneaking behind the far wind break, 50 foot pines at the left border of the paddock.
|Hunting equivalent of "grip'n grin"|
|Nera with a goose|
|Goose guide Rangi (Zharn) with bag|
Zharn – “Hey Nick, what time is it?”
Me – “Just after 6 dude”
Zharn – “Oh… I must be hungry then”!!!!
We picked up before 7 in order to get to the fish and chip shop. Back at Matt’s we ate like hungry hunters, enjoying the zillion dollar view of the bay. We watched a bit of the hunt footage and then headed back to Zharn’s. Sleep came pretty easily.
We’d decided not to hunt today, so I got on the road at 5am, and made it home by 9.15. Sweet drive.
Thanks lads, that trip rocked.
|Tony, Nera & a visitor from North Shore|
Photos courtesy of Matt McCondach.