Monday, March 26, 2018

The approaching season

Matt and I met in the pouring rain at my house; the boat was already loaded and ready. Ahead of us we had several jobs at the ponds. First and foremost, to tag and claim our ponds for the upcoming season, then to clear some storm felled trees and finally to plant out carex grasses which had been propagated by dad and his mate Rex. As we headed south the weather improved and we arrived in at dad’s place in beautiful sunshine. We’d packed for rain so were both happy that we’d struck a beautiful autumn day.

The ponds were in really nice condition, if perhaps a tad low and there were birds in occupation. Ducks took off from the usual ponds as we made our way around the setup in our punt, pushed along by the small outboard. At each maimai we nailed in the tag of the respective shooter who had tagged previously, and noted the amount of covering Ti tree each spot needed. We cleared the fallen timber (the cyclones had really smashed some of the trees around) and set about planting out the grasses. We were done after a few hours and then headed back to the city, arriving at the motorway in time to join a long tail of slow moving traffic.

Once home, it was time to prep for the following morning’s goose hunt. Every location is different and this one because of its proximity to a main road gives the hunter the opportunity to set up with lights on, given that the birds are used to a continual flow of traffic. Richard, Matt, Travis and I would be on the case in the morning, and we hoped that the predicted NE wind would take the noise of our shots away from the birds. I walked Layla into the paddock and released her in order to get my gear sorted. In short order we heard a kerfuffle and in the light of the headlamps she returned with a goose clamped in her jaws. I wrung the pegged bird’s neck – at least we wouldn’t blank! We set up our decoys for the predicted wind - the location is odd in that with nearby housing and the road the safe shooting arc is very defined – and got our blinds grassed. Soon we were in shipshape order and awaited the rising of the sun.
Credit: Travis Poulson

The geese rose off their roost and as geese can and will do, they completely rewrote the script by heading in a direction they’d never flown before! I guess because we’d hunted this mob several times they were just suspicious of the nocturnal activity in our paddock. The wind never arrived so our spread was a bit redundant. Still, a few birds arrived in dribs and drabs and we began to put a few in the bag. It wasn’t classic goose hunting with mobs funneling into the decoys, but with no wind getting birds to set can be a lottery. 

Credit: Travis Poulson


Matt's Zulu


Richard left us for a while to scope out some local haunts and soon phoned to advise that he’d located a large group of birds on a new grass paddock. 

Photos: Travis Poulson
They’d jumped as he approached. A splinter group approached us by flew by to other places unknown. Soon though a group came in off the sea but after beating towards us were suspicious, so when in range overhead Matt made the call. We downed 7 or 8 which was better than a kick in the teeth. The morning drifted by and Matt made the call to leave us at lunchtime. 

As 12 approached, Matt got his gear ready and then left. He was no sooner at his truck than the inevitable happened and 7 geese came in and dropped around us at the shots. Hard on their heels came 5 more which were mowed down equally fast. That signaled the start of a mini flight as small groups of birds visited. By 1.30 a quick count up prior to the pack up revealed 47 birds down.  A really nice little hunt in one of the most picturesque spots you could imagine. And with that the pre duck season hunting is most likely to be done and dusted. Happy that Layla is in good preseason form. Now its duck time!

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