Monday, March 30, 2015

Not too far to go

Richard called Tony, Tony called Travis & me; geese were on the menu in the Clevedon district just east of Auckland and the farmer was at his wits end. A full paddock of whatever the geese had been feeding had been destroyed, mowed down to the point where the farmer had sprayed it off…
Richard had eyeballed the geese and pushed them off their preferred paddock the previous day and reported that we’d need a bit of a carry to get the gear in… I had visions of the 600m+ bog ridden treks of the past but it was actually a bit of a doddle to get the gear over a fence and drain and across a nice hard paddock. The boys left to move their cars while I got the decoys together and began to lay the spread. They got back and soon we had the blinds sorted, and were pretty much ready.
The location was spectacular, we were tucked in a paddock with a high hill behind us, an estuary in front of us and a peninsula stretched away to our left. To our right the coastal road stretched away and early fishermen trundled past with their boats. Out from the estuary, the gulf islands loomed as the sun began to rise and the darkness lifted. We waited in anticipation of hunting unpressured geese…
… a week earlier Matt, the manager of the farm we were on and I lay in our blinds on a still morning. In front of us the giant Kaipara Harbour stretched to the distance, even so, the harbour’s South Head seemed to be in touching distance such was the calm. We’d found the “x” where geese had been by grid searching the chicory paddock we were in until the farm manager located fresh goose kak. We saw geese alright, the massed overhead, but with no wind to set the birds we were in a losing position and pulled the pin with 9 birds down and the threat of sunburn looming… a meal of fresh snapper and cold beer finished off what had been a tough hunt on wise birds.

Back to the here and now. The sun had risen and birds were beginning to move. In the estuary in front of us geese called, but these guys wouldn’t be our targets – they’d seen our headlamps as we set up so wouldn’t come near us. Finally the first flight of geese rounded the peninsular to our left. Despite the flagging and calling effort they were set on a location elsewhere and carried on…. Straight away a shadow of doubt crept over me, but that was quickly dispelled as the next flight rounded the corner and saw and heard us, turned, and came in on set wings. As pretty a sight as any in water fowling, their necks stretched forward as landing gear went down and Richard called the shot.

The next 20 minutes was a flurry of action as birds arrived in workable groups but with fickle wind [Again! Alas!] , they often didn’t quite setup straight. Travis at this point said that his gun wasn’t cycling more than a shot or 2, so decided to strip the mag extension – ZWIINNGGG – the mag spring went flying… as did the stopper. We spent the next hours or so under a cloud darkened sky, searching for the missing parts. Finally Travis found the stopper and after an eternity Tony stumbled over the spring… by now the rain had started and southerly squalls [forecast was north westerly] came in.

Luckily geese are waterproof :)


The temperature dropped and rain fell steadily. No birds flew. After a soggy hour the clouds cleared and the sun burned through with fierce intensity, and that signalled the end to our hunt. With gear retrieved and packed into the vehicles we made our way to Richard’s house for a barbecue of venison patties and veni sausages. I could get used to these post hunt cook-ups…

The idiot anti-hero shot

when 4 guys go hunting...

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