|Flood waters on farmland with the swamp in the foreground|
There was still water running under the hut at that stage so we knew we'd be guaranteed a good old mud-fest for the shooting season. Our maimais are built up so while they were affected by the flooding, it was only minor - we'd be able to hunt. In the days leading up the chatter amongst the boys grew as it does and excitement levels began to peak. I'd be hunting with Matt who'd be having his first opening in the party and we'd be going into our furthest pond, which is pretty much the most competitive as far as that goes, with several very large bodies of water nearby which get stacked with decoys. With the weather looking fine (again!) and still, and lots of water around the place still, I wasn't too sure if the birds would be dispersed, but what I had seen when dad and I inspected the flooding was the huge number of birds pitching into flooded areas they'd never otherwise use.
After a sold sleep and large breakfast, we were on our way. Matt and I were still getting our gear into the maimai when the neighbours in the Corner Pond fired their first shot, 15 minutes before legal shooting time. After that it was a bit quiet in our area so I told Matt I'd get out and switch on the electronic decoys. Long hard experience has taught me to take my gun when going on small expeditions, as anything can happen and this time it did - after I'd waded ashore Matt called out and as I looked up a large bird folded above me - geese! I upped and fired and brought a bird down as Matt dragged down another. Holy cow! We'd taken our first ever canadas and Matt had killed the first with his first ever shot as an official member of the party. Interestingly, I'd shot mine with #4 steel which is decidedly on the small side. My day was made.
|Matt with the bag|
Sunday, saw a shuffle of hunting pairs and ponds. I was odd man out so hunted alone for the morning and had a ball, limiting out early. Layla worked her butt off and I was stoked with her work. Later on Matt and Daryl came to join me, as they were a little quiet on their pond, so I would call for them. Andy who'd gone back to the hut flew his drone out and was able to capture some really neat footage of some incoming ducks, including the retrieve. The boys shot well and at lunchtime came in to help with cleaning the birds which we did in record time. Matt was keen to get out and finish his limit which was achieved late in the afternoon.
Paul, Tom and Andy left in the afternoon leaving Matt, Greg, dad, Matt, Bill and I still in residence. That evening Daryl excelled himself starting with sauteed goose breast and following with an excellent duck ragout on mash - simply outstanding nosh. After the others retired, Greg, Daryl and I sat up talking, drinking and maybe even singing :D before hitting the hay after 1am.... and I had breakfast duty.
|Layla - knackered|
I really didn't think I'd be in shape to hunt on Monday morning so when the alarm went off I shook my head a bit, fed the dog, got up (or was that the other way around?), made breakfast and we set off. Bill was injured so stayed back, leaving me to hunt Puru,dad and Matt on McLennan's and Greg was with Daryl on Watsons. I wasn't expecting much yet birds began working immediately and I quickly accumulated half a dozen mallards, all drakes, and a drake shoveler. If groups of more than 3 birds appeared I just didn't call at them at all, given the other guys had collectively a dozen shots between them against my 3. Mid morning I decided to walk through the drowned willows and soon Layla brought me back a wounded mallard drake - her work was really solid with a few minor faults to iron out. As I stood against a backdrop of willows, a pair of mallard dropped straight in on me and I took them both. I wandered further and then decided I'd had enough and walked back to my pond with 3 birds on my belt, and one to get for a limit. That bird came soon after when I dropped a mallard drake. Matt and dad came by and reported 17 birds down, they'd had a fine hunt also and the Greg/Daryl combo were doing well also.
Traffic was light on the motorway and all too soon we were home. Roll on next weekend and the pheasants.