Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A gathering of like minded people

Sometimes working for a US based global corporation has its upsides. Often times, the reverse applies. When I returned from Aitutaki where a company global policy banished me from connecting to a local WIFI, I had some catching up to do. One bit of catching up involved coming up to speed with a planned goose hunt involving quite a few blokes coming with us to one of our spots. Delayed coverage aside, I had the double whammy of explaining to my beloved wife that not only had I just been away for 10 days, but another weekend away was on the cards. No sympathy expected, or given!

I'm a bit of a planning fanatic so with only a few days to go I thought I'd just kick back and go with it; undoubtedly Richard and Tony had done the mission control work. And so they had, big time. Layla and I arrived at the main base just after 5 pm to find that the majority of the crew were in residence. New acquaintances were made, and old acquaintances reignited. Soon we were underway to do a final long distance scout and get grass for our blinds. A few moments of hilarity (for everyone bar the victim) ensued when Richard mowed over a wasps' nest with his weed whacker. He was mobbed and stung several times while everyone else put distance on the nest. After grassing it was back to base to have dinner and await the final two stragglers. Plans were laid, there was a hell of a head of geese using 2 main paddocks. We'd need luck and a bit of wind to make this work out. 2 groups were assigned. Our group would hunt a paddock that had produced the goods in the past, while the others would move several Km away to hunt the far end of the property. So far so good. We'd rise at 4am, eat and be at the paddocks by 5 to set up.

After a broken night's sleep (my roomie had a bad stomach) lights came on in the house and we staggered around gathering gear before walking to the main base for breakfast and a final briefing. At the paddock (and after being slightly geographically misplaced) we used the benefit of Tim's experience to set up in the right spot. We settled in. A moderate breeze was blowing and the cacophony of goose song made its way to us. Layla was restless in her blind, waiting for the first flight to arrive, and as the sun rose the noise increased. The first flight was up and coming our way; they swung around and came in and the first shots of the day were fired. The sky was overcast so the full effect of the sun was mostly blunted, but from time to time it burst through and the heat was pretty energy sapping.

At Tim's suggestion re re-orientated the blinds and move the decoy spread to accommodate the wind better and this worked a treat as our kill rate went up with birds having to thread the gauntlet rather than come in head on.

By lunchtime we were doing well but the sound coming from the other party indicated that they were right in the goose zone. While our opportunities tapered off they had continued shooting. At about 1 pm I took Layla for a swim and had a dip myself - the water was brisk and if I'd been semi asleep earlier, I was now wide awake. Between 3 pm and dark, the geese came back in numbers. The shooting, retrieving re-loading and resetting was frantic. We were on song and very few escaped. At dark the birds stopped moving and we packed out our guns and blind bags under the light of headlamps. At the truck I fed her royal blackness and she fell asleep. Geese are big and she's small and struggles to really cope with the larger models.

Over drinks and dinner we recapped the day's hunt. Andrew, Tim R, Travis, Dan, Adam and Willy had put 270 birds down. Richard, Tony, Dave, Tim A and I had killed 160, a combined tally of 430 birds. Some of the guys were speechless, these were seasoned and hardened goose hunters who had just put their best tally ever on the floor. Our group were certainly happy too, the afternoon onslaught had given us a rev up. Plans were laid for the morning - we'd shoot the same groups. I was completely worn out so hit the hay as early as I could. When Tony arrived home at 2 am I woke and thought it was hunting time again. It seemed like only 5 minutes later that it really was wakey wakey time. Dave was feeling ill so retired from the fray. We walked around to the base where the other boys had breakfast waiting, ate and then got going.

Tim and I were in the paddock before Tony and Richard arrived. We re-oriented our blinds on account of the lack of wind. Soon 3 birds appeared over a high ridge behind us and sailed down on set wings. That set the scene for a short but frantic hunt. We finished up with 31 birds in the bag. The other team got 5 on what was a very quiet morning for them.

When Richard spoke to the farmer he was rapt. 466 crop wreckers and trough water spoilers had been destroyed. He's been planning a chopper cull on the birds out of desperation and our hunt had simply blown him away. Post a photo and clean up session we parted ways; I think its fair to say that we will be invited back.

Its been said that a gathering of like minded people with the experience and gear, can achieve a relative control over geese. I think we did that.

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