Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What if Carol the mako shark was Doris the duck?

Found this really neat article in Sportfishing online. Carol is a SPOT tagged juvenile mako shark, tagged 5 months ago in NZ waters. The tag sends data which is relayed via satellites, revealing information about makos previously unknown to scientists.

Here's a really cool activity log showing Carol's travels. Have a play. Now, here we have a collaborative approach to research and even better, a nice way of sharing results with the general populace. Similar methods have been used for sika deer (telemetry on collars) showing that if there is truly a will to make things happen, then there is a way. If we were to use modern technology to monitor a sample population of mallards, then I'm pretty sure some hard data could be gathered quite fast.

It can be done.

Quick edit/addendum had a 5 minute gawk on the internet and found this local initiative in GPS bird tracking. Must be getting close to fruition now according to the Guvmint site.....

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Part V - Installation

This turned out to be frustrating for the simple reason that I blew a switch fuse when I earthed the negative through the boat accidentally (why the heck I had the battery hooked in I just don't know...) when wiring the internal LEDs. It took me an age to figure it out and since I wasn't happy I basically rewired the LEDs. Today's weather was cooler than yesterday's and I felt more relaxed so I took my time and checked each light as I connected it. A quick trip to Super Cheap to grab some spare fuses and everything was away.

Battery box, switch box and fish finder

LED interior light

Next up I switched everything on and left it running for a few hours. Surprising how much a well charged 12v SLA battery will give you, still going strong after 4 hours. Good to get this job out of the way.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Part IV - Connectors

The best connector type that I've seen around is on the Higdon battery operated "Splasher Flasher" and "Pulsator" decoys. I eventually tracked some down at Rogers Sporting Goods in the US, so have been waiting patiently for them.

So, having got them in, it was time to wire in the battery box and live bait tank connectors.

Now everything is pretty much connected, so next job is to get the lights installed, a job which hopefully I can put a decent dent in over the weekend.

Output cables: Fishfinder, live bait tank, nav lights and interior lights

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Part III - Live bait tank

I can't really progress with wiring the boat up completely until the final components arrive, however with a day off work I thought I'd get the live bait tank ready.

The pump is a "Keep Alive" jobbie out of the states, the tank a beer barrel as described elsewhere. Cut a hole, add a grommet, heat shrink the cables and voila, one functional live bait tank.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Part II - Cables

Part II of the boat electrics box was kicked off today. First, I drilled out a hole for a cable gland. Through this one I'll run the cables for nav lights, interior lights and the fish finder. I'll put another through for the aerator, as I'll be running a heavy duty cable.

And from the battery box will be another relatively heavy cable, with a waterproof connector. Battery box will remove for charging/swapping out batteries.

I put some closed cell foam spacers in to avoid battery rattling which otherwise would be unavoidable.

Now I have to wait for the last components to arrive - HD cable with waterproof connectors.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tui Ridge

Tui Ridge is the name of the property where we'll be putting down 500 pheasants early in the New Year. As with other syndicates I'm involved with, a fair bit of work is required to get things ship shape. Today's mission had 3 main objectives; firstly to clear a fallen tree from one of the access tracks, second to block off a culvert and reflood an old ponded area, and finally to get some traps in place to begin the predator killing operation.

Committee Meeting

The tree wasn't a little puppy either...

Andy... nothing else to say really

A couple of hours of sawing and lifting and she was cleared. The property has tons of potential.

There are a good number of wild birds (pheasants) present, along with quail and ducks in a few wet spots. Great property and an exciting prospect.

After we'd finished up, Matt and I headed over the Hapuakohe's to the swamp. Dad met us at the landing and we nipped in for a look. The ponds looked primo, no weed issues at all and dark clean water. With the willows in full leaf it looked stunning. A can of beans and a beer for lunch (it was by now persisting down outside) and we headed for home.

A great although somewhat wet day.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Part I - switch box

So, first thing for the boat electrics is the switch box. I got a sealed project box from surplustronics, a couple of buss bars from Smart Marine and a BEP Marine quad switch from Smart also. I've decided after a bit of thought not to switch the fish finder through the switch gear as its superfluous.

Step 1 - install buss bars to switch box

Step 2 - cut out hole for switch panel

Step 3 - install switch panel

Will seal the switch panel to the box with silicon.

Part I - complete

Friday, October 19, 2012

Boat electrics

On top of the obligatory jobs to be carried out around the duck ponds (spraying, trapping), at Tui Ridge and at Craig's (pheasant chicks arriving 14th Nov, so a clean up and prep session required prior), I really need to do some work on The Booger, to get her up to speed from an on-water legal perspective. Basically I've been getting by on temporary navigation lights which aren't completely satisfactory, to me, and most likely to other users of the waterways. Auckland Harbour and approaches on a typical Saturday morning over summer is very busy to say the least, especially approaching the city lights where weak navigation lamps are easily lost in the background clutter.

So, the mission is to build a set of electrics encompassing:
  • Battery box - sealed
  • Switch box - sealed
  • Nav lights
  • Bait tank aerator
  • Interior lights
  • Fish finder
The battery box and aerator are both removable so I've been delving into realms previously unknown to me to find waterproof connectors, spiral glands etc... and I now have a pile of components at home, so the fun will begin soon.

Finally, the live bait tank will be based on a brewing barrel. I got this idea from someone else who swears by it for small boat fishing.

Beer brewing barrel

Best ideas are someone else's!

Progress reports will be put up as I go.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

12 regions, 5 elections

I wrote earlier about the upcoming Fish & Game council elections. One of the rules surrounding the process is that if not enough (or only enough) candidates stand to fill the 12 positions within any region's council, then no election is held and the current council is re-elected.

Seems that in 7 of the 12 regions, that this will occur. I don't know what to read into this. Happiness with status quo? Apathy? Being completely removed from the body representing them?

In Auckland/Waikato, the number of candidates appears to be down on the previous election, I'm hearing that 26 candidates are standing, and last election it was 36.

So, 12 regions, 5 elections. There we go.

Last hurrah video

Matt made a video of Saturday's hunt. He has skills as a movie maker!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The last hurrah

As Andy and I went to cut grass for our layout blinds last night, we passed a streetlight under which a hen and drake Mallard were feeding contentedly on worms and bugs on the grass verge of the street we were on. They were still at it 40 minutes later when we came back the other way. Last night and tonight are the darkest of the dark moon phases, so the night is pitch black which is why the smart ducks were using artificial light to forage.

Because street lights are in short supply where Matt, Tony, Andy, Tim and I were heading for a goose hunt (last of 2012) we knew the geese would be pretty hungry and would hopefully choose the paddock where we were setting up in, to get a feed of juicy young grass.

I had trouble getting to sleep... I had a nagging thought that I'd forgotten something. So in my mind I went over the gear list a few times. Everything checked off... paranoia... or maybe it was the Steinlager consumed with Andy when we got back from our grass cutting mission!!!

I was awake again before the alarm went, so went and woke Andy, scoffed a bowl of muesli and Tim had arrived just as we got out the door at 03.45. The weather today was predicted to be wild, 30 - 50kt northerlies combined with periods of heavy saturating rain. The rain was forecast to arrive mid morning so hopefully we wouldn't be sitting in submerged blinds. Small splatterings of rain smacked the windscreen as we travelled to the meeting point, and we arrived on time. We started unpacking the gear as Matt arrived sans Tony, explaining that Tony had stayed over at his place but had gone home at 3am to get his gear - hard man! He arrived soon after. The trek out was shorter than on the last hunt (by a good 20 metres!), as we'd decided on a slightly different location. With a strong wind, setting the decoys was an easy proposition. The boys grassed their blinds and then we stood around in the dark waiting for sunrise. In the gloom we could hear the occasional goose waking up on the waterholes nearby. Then one flew by quite close but with the wind behind him... with unloaded guns he went by unmolested, but that was the signal to load and get ready.

After that the birds began to trade, and the first birds down were singles that were trading between water and pasture. When the flocks finally woke up we had a period of intense action. Flocks, singles doubles and trebles came our way, and many stayed. With the wind they were able to jink and move sideways fast with a flick of wing, so the shooting was sporting and spectacular.

There were many highlights of the hunt, including Tim getting his first ever goose, having geese walking around in the decoys while we tried to bring more birds into range (eventually Tony and I sat up and collected a double each, our shots putting up some sitting birds several hundred metres away, several of which buzzed us and got permanently grounded) and my personal favourite moment when 3 birds set from way up and came in "moaning" as Tony and I did our best moan impressions back to them. (Tony's a much better caller than me, his moan sounds like a goose, mine sounds like Gonzo playing his trumpet at the beginning of the muppet show).

Tim enjoying his first goose hunt
By 9.30 it was getting quiet so we had a photo session (it was now raining...) and began to pack up. Naturally as we did so, small flocks began to move but we studiously ignored them. The rain wasn't quite as heavy as predicted, never the less it was a wet and heavy load of 37 geese, all the decoys, guns, layouts and other gear that we trudged back to the truck with. A quick celebratory bevvy, then we were off to Matt's place to clean the bag.

A good haul
On the way home, Andy and I took a couple of detours to check out potential hunting spots for the future, and uncovered a potentially interesting boat launching spot. At home we unpacked the gear and got it away, then Andy headed off.... with a party to attend I wasn't sure he wouldn't fall asleep in the corner somewhere. As for me, well the weather induced a blackout in my neighbourhood, so hitting the hay early was perfectly acceptable. My excuse anyway.

That's last goose hunt for 2012 as far as I can see; and a fine last hurrah to a good year.

Mr Snuffit, Tim & Andy - Hero Shot!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fish & Game Elections

NZ's Fish and Game system is unique globally. Some say it is quite an enlightened system. Here's how it works.

New Zealand is broken into 12 Geographic F&G regions, being:
  • Northland
  • Auckland Waikato
  • Eastern
  • Hawkes Bay
  • Taranaki
  • Wellington
  • Nelson/Marlborough
  • West Coast
  • North Canterbury
  • Central South Island
  • Otago
  • Southland

Each region elects 12 councillors. Councillors are license holders with 'clean records' as such (go here to see details), who nominate themselves to be elected. Each region then elects a council representative, who sits on National Council.

Each region has a manager, and paid staff such as fisheries and game bird managers.

The regional council sets policy against which an operational working plan and associated budget is derived, usually by the regional manager (paid staff). The budget is then submitted to central, and funds are allocated from a contestable pool, i.e. the proceeds of all trout/salmon and game bird licenses sold. In other words, it doesn't particularly matter where a license is sold as the funds are drawn into the central contestable funding pool.

With me so far? So, looking at this from afar, you may be saying "show me the enlightened part". Essentially, that is a reference to our resources being managed by the users of the resource, i.e. hunters and fishers managing the game birds and fish species. Cool huh? Yes but.... 12 regions, 144 elected reps (who mostly never get to meet each other), 12 policy sets, 12 managers, 12 lots of regional admin, 12 different accountancy and reporting methods, then a central body, a central CEO, central admin staff... there are more heads than Medusa in reality. And then, 12 regions each seeking funds to carry out their policy driven plans from a pool that in reality only increases through pulling of the pricing lever, rather than increasing of number of licenses sold (or members recruited in other words). I can't think of a more convoluted system or business model. In fact a normal business competing against other businesses like in the real world, would not be around for long.

Anyhow, that's not the central theme here. Its election time again. The time when interested license holders nationwide elect individuals to the body that represents them. The thing is... only a small percentage of license holders opt-in to vote, and even fewer bother to cast a vote at all. When this happens the same folks tend to be elected to council term after term, a situation which is not totally conducive to producing fresh ideas and perspectives, which can be blocked by a stubborn resistance.

I can't say that I have all the answers regarding getting license holders engaged, but this is not situation unique to our sports and pass times at all - clubs and groups everywhere suffer from the apathy and attitude of  "that's ok, someone else will do it for me".

What I would encourage all license holders to do is to make themselves aware of current issues facing our sports, make themselves aware of who is standing for election, and understand where each candidate stands with regard to issues. Then, they need to ensure that they are enrolled to vote, and finally, cast their vote carefully.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A new project

I'm a strong advocate of releasing game birds (in suitable environments) so jumped at the opportunity to be involved in a new syndicate. We're setting up very close to Te Kauwhata, on a private block containing mixed terrain and cover.

The crew are well known to each other and includes folks from all walks of life. Ground rules have been established, meetings held, budget agreed and the necessary consents granted by DOC and F&G. For this particular shoot site we've sought and been granted a waiver from the standard game bird regulations*; we'll be able to take both cock and hen birds as well as self imposing limits rather than observing a three cock bird per day limit. Part of the rules surrounding consent of such a waiver includes the need to keep records of shooters on site per day and number and gender of birds harvested amongst other compliance responsibilities.

Scope of works is as usual with such projects; the heavy work is front loaded prior to establishing the birds. If done right, then you don't need to do too much more apart from routine maintenance to keep your release facilities up to scratch.

The key tasks right now are to source and ferry materials for a new release pen in, which includes posts and a water tank. Getting this stuff in is time bound, as the land owner plans to sew maize crops shortly so our ability to access the release site easily will be reduced. We have to sew a cover crop adjacent to the pen so that the birds can move around with ease and in relative safety.

Come summer and construction work will get underway, so I'll put up accounts of progress as we go.

(*subject to final approval ex council and gazetting)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The opening of the trout season has come and gone. I spent zero time thinking about it, given that I was with my family in the warm warm climes of Phuket...

Sacrilege! I hear you anglers scream. I actually do feel the need to defend myself somewhat.... the trouble with having very broad interests in hunting and fishing (well the trouble for me anyway) is that I simply don't have a trout stream, duck pond, pheasant block or goose roost at my back door. Whilst I readily admit to having a superb sea fishery within 10 minutes of home that caters nicely for summer fun on the water, the other pursuits require travel and time away from the family. So taking them (family) to Phuket was an investment in brownie points, probably more to try and get out of credit than actually build up a tally that I can draw on.... it would be fair to say that Autumn and Winter have seen me away from home more than most guys with wife and youngsters can get away with. Add in the Fish and Game Council meetings... well you get the picture, I'm in the red as far as brownie points go.

I understand that the weather was its usual rainy windy opening day crap that trashes the small streams that I like to open on. Where I was it was hot, sunny and the beer was cheap. Cheap beer vs first rise of the season.... hmmmmm