Thursday, March 28, 2013

Andrew, an acquaintance.

Andrew's a guy from Wellington who is more fish mad than the average bear. He loves his toys too and has done an amazing job with customising his boat with all sorts of electronica and has been more than helpful with information to help me and others do things he'd think of as menial (I'm sure).

With his new Drift Ghost video camera he's captured some very fine fly fishing sessions of late - almost enough to get me to pick up a fly rod and go chase a spotty fresh-water fish.

Check this out from a week or so ago.

And this from yesterday.

The really neat thing about the clips is that the area fished is not all that recognised here or internationally as a destination (as say the South Island is).

Based on this and stuff I've seen on blogs I decided to try my hand at videoing and found a pretty cheap deal on a Drift HD (the model down from Ghost). If I absolutely suck then I reckon I can sell and recover what I paid. I'm thinking that if i add footage of goose hunts to Matt's then great clips could become more awesome than ever before. Reality is that I'll probably video my head, my hat, the ground, some grass....

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Big moon

Don't know if I'm a werewolf but coming up to the full moon I have a $hit time sleeping. Don't really feel an urge to run rampant around the neighbourhood tearing the throats out of innocents, but all the same its a pain in the butt.

Got to watching some pigeon shooting clips on YouTube and this one is especially good, as half way through it highlights the importance of lead in wing shooting. Lead as in how much deflection or distance in front of the bird you must give; not lead as in toxic shot. :)

Have a look, fantastic bit of cinematography right there.

Then, if you want to see some truly spectacular long shooting from George Digweed, check this out. Killing birds at 65+ yards with regular monotony... my words not his, you can see he gets a buzz out of a good bird. Good stuff.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Meanwhile, down at the Shanks Ranch

... Craig's family have generously donated approx 7 acres of rough land to fence, plant and release birds into. Generous and enlightened, the particular patch has little worth for farming and Craig his dad and his brother Mike support wing sports of all types, so are only too happy to let us do our thing.

Our mission for the weekend was to fence the southern and western boundaries. The crew had assembled on Friday evening and I arrived early Saturday morning to catch up with Craig, Mitch, Mick, Hendrik and Guy's wife Rachael. With the farm stay worker David on hand, we had a good crew. What we didn't really have though, was a bunch of fencing experience, but we would learn fast...

Given that the farm is rated for organic milk production, no tanalised or treated timber posts can be used. That left us with recycled concrete fence posts. The lads had hired a post hole borer. Craig had hand cut some heavy gum 2.4 m strainer posts, and had got a start on the southern boundary, so we were able to get into digging and ramming in the posts immediately.

Lesson 1: Fence posts must be put into the ground perpendicular to the lay of the land. Given we were working on steep ground the posts therefore ought not to have been 90 degrees upright. The look on Craig's face when he came back to our site to review where we were up to told us that townie keyboard drivers are not the best fencing contractors! We conveniently blamed management.

Lesson 2: When fencing raised ground and hollows, the posts in the hollows must be "footed", i.e. have an extra foot attached. The reason is that when the wires (7 wire fences) are strained, the exertion on the posts in dips will begin to lift the posts. In 5 years you will have floating posts. "Didn't you hear me say not to put those posts in...?" Again, we blamed management.

By midday we'd fenced off the southern boundary and moved around to the western edge. This part would prove the hardest, as the rise and fall of the ground was dramatic; and the midday heat was taxing. We left to have lunch and it turned into lunch + siesta, so by the time we returned to work I reckon we were running at 80%. By the day's end though, we had the posts all in and guide wires up on all the fences.

We finished at at about 7pm, the work speed having picked up again as the day cooled. By now though, something was going on in my gut... cramps began to hit. Too bad, a ginger beer and it felt a bit better. One of the lads had brought along an AR10 in .308 so we decided to do a bit of target shooting; plus I was keen to try Mitch's recently refurbished Miroku 20g.

We set up plastic bottles and some targets and then each had a go. I enjoyed Mitch's shotgun, 3 shots, 3 targets smashed. But what happened next was astonishing. Craig's an excellent marksman but I wouldn't have credited this unless I'd seen it with my own eyes.

Back to base for a large dinner of venison, pork ribs, salad and spuds. By this time I was feeling a bit under the weather. Having sat around for a few hours talking we hit the hay.... but unfortunately my malaise really hit and I spent a few hours puking.

So I wasn't feeling too bright on Sunday morning. Rain had arrived at last - maybe not enough to break the severe drought gripping the country but enough to have us reaching for coats. Craig, Hendrik and I strung the wires on the main fence and strained them, while Mitch, Mick and Rachael built post and rail barriers between rocky outcrops to keep out cattle.

We found an interestingly shaped rock and Rachel perched it atop a strainer post.

At mid morning I said farewell to the troops and headed off. Still a few bits and pieces to finish up; not to mention 500 trees and shrubs to plant in our allotment.

When I arrived home I called Tony to see how the boys had got on on the canadas (they'd hunted Saturday morning) and they'd had a great hunt with 60 birds down.

Photos courtesy Tony Dobbs
Roll on next hunt.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Doing stuff with fly lines

I used the (comparatively) favourable exchange rate (as an excuse) to get in replacement fly lines for those that have died or been abbreviated due to kingfish rampages … and a bad cast that left me horribly hung up.

On the write off pile:

Teeny TS-350

Teeny T-400

And on the abbreviated-no-longer-know-the-head-weight heap:

SA Streamer Express (short) 350gr

The Teenys bother me a whole heap less than the SA, in that they are a much less expensive line and I don’t feel guilt using them around structure like buoys and rocks. The standard T series (T-400) was a pretty horrible line anyway, all fat and yukky. The TS-350 was sweet and lasted much much longer than the several T-200s I’ve chewed up in the past couple of years (on kahawai, very small kingfish and trout). Funny how sometimes in a range of gear there’s one model that hits a sweet spot. Peter Morse (drops a name!) once said that he thought that in the Sage Xi2 range, the #11 was THE ROD. Given that model was the first SWF rod I ever bought, I was quite chuffed (especially as it was a bit of a guess when I bought it in a closing down sale).

Anyway, so I sat down the other night to put braided loops on the front and rear ends of the new lines. I decided to go with the SA Streamer Express long in 450gr and step it up to the Tibor Gulfstream living on the #12 CTS custom rod. And the other line was of course a Teeny TS-350.

The rear loop on the fly line needs to be big enough to pass the entire reel through, so that when changing out lines when in the field it’s reasonably easy to do by passing the big loop through the small loop on the backing then taking the big loop over the reel/reel & butt section of the rod. Assuming here that you’re not carrying spare spools (I don’t, they are heavy and space consuming). The front loop needs to be a smallish loop with a long enough line inserted section for the Chinese Finger Trap principle to be able to work.

An hour and a bit later and I was done. Will have to go and test the loops on something soon before it gets cool and the kingis bugger off up north...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A year in the making

We'd been planning a March assault on the Raglan geese for almost a year.. at first we talked about it, then socialised it with other boys, then began to plan dates around the moon phase. There's a stack of geese in Raglan harbour, and that's sort of the issue, the reason for so many is that there's a zillion loafing and roosting spots, and normally there's an abundance of green herbage for them to feed on. Getting shots on a good number of birds consistently requires some planning, some local knowledge and a tad of luck. With property Manager Eddie aboard, we had the eyes and ears on the ground and between the rest of us the gear and logistics were sorted.

As the day drew nearer the hunt zone was changed as the geese began to mob up in different spots each day.. suddenly things were looking tricky. The call was made to hunt a cut-over maize crop; with the drought that's gripping the country there's absolutely no grass to be found anywhere and Eddie had dumped a half ton of rotten maize silage back into the field. Friday night saw Eddie, Andy and I surveying the paddock and pushing out the geese that were on the paddock. Although not fully black, the moon was a mere sliver so we hoped they'd not be able to return and feed all night. Back to Andy's place where I hit the hay, had gotten only 4 hour's sleep the previous night so I was pretty knackered. And damn, I was bolt awake at 3am, 90 minutes before I needed to be, but there was no chance of getting more shut-eye so I lay and waited as time ticked by. At 4.15 I got up and kicked Andy's door and he dragged his sleepy ass out of bed  having thought he'd overslept and that the alarm hadn't gone off. Muesli and coffee for breakfast, then guns into the truck and off to Eddie's place. Matt & Chewie, Rick, Beno and Eddie were there when we arrived, so we drove to the shed and parked up. Eddie grabbed the tractor and we threw our gear aboard and headed off to the chosen spot. We got the blinds and 60 odd decoys arranged in reasonable fashion, had a final safety and expectation briefing and then sat and waited.

And waited... and waited. The predicted sw wind was coming from the east, so I wondered if we'd set in the right spot. Always some nervous jitters when you've set the spot up. The sun arose and birds began to come to life, first magpies, then ducks, gulls, minahs...

The spread looked pretty good, and despite the lack of cover we blended in well enough. Finally, from over our right shoulders came the first geese. We mowed the first mob down and then it all got a bit interesting, as it seemed that the birds had a preferred landing zone about 100m away. Matt and chewie had to walk off a couple of large flocks that piled in over there. Even so, we certainly had our chances and between 8 - 10 am knocked down 30 odd geese.

The wind really freshened later in the morning and we could hear geese moving up and down the harbour. We managed to pull birds in from quite some distance on occasion, the highlight being a mob of 5 that beat their way towards us low and flat into the teeth of the wind. We took them all in a short barrage. By 10.15 it was all quiet, so we made the call to pick up at 10.30. No sooner had we started stacking decoys than more birds were in the air, and we managed to bring in a pair despite having our gear piled all over the ground around us.

Matt made a good clip of the proceedings - note the geese landing further back than our spread at times.

By 11 we had taken a few shots, then Eddie brought the tractor over to collect our gear.

Back to the shed where we dressed the birds, had a cold beer and shot the breeze for a while. Then the boys hit the road and I went back to Andy's to collect my stuff. By the time I got home I was dog tired, but determined not to show weakness in front of swmbo so cooked dinner, got the Justin Bieber Fan Club ready for bed and sat and watched recorded TV shows until 10pm.

Man I slept well.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Not quite a complete bust

15 minutes from my home, we sat in a very dry paddock amongst heaps of desiccated goose kak. The sun beat down, and Matt and I were waiting for Tony to return from a scout around the property to find the geese we could hear in the near distance. When Tony returned and told us that a family group had been set up 300 metres from us and that they flew in the opposite direction we weren't terribly surprised. Goose hunting is about being where the birds are using, and despite Matt having scouted the property and seen 100 birds sitting where we were now setup, it appeared that we were a day or 2 too late.

Not much food here - its dryyyyyyy

Racking up more hours sitting in a layout not seeing anything - well it happens and it wont be the last time. Have to say that having a property close by for an evening shoot on the ducks is appealing.

On our way home, Tony & Matt found the main body of the birds.

Next time... (only a week away!)