Friday, October 30, 2009

Trapping the ponds

Suddenly a very good and very viable mustelid/rodent trap is available on the market. I say suddenly because I had heard about them, the forum had chatted about them and now they are being delivered! Guy has 10, Mike O'Donnell has some and I plan on getting some for our ponds and for around the hut.

The trap is called the "Henry", named after one of NZ's early conservationists (without googling and from memory I think the dude ended up in Helensville - or Dargaville - killing himself? A far cry from the wilds of the deep south...)and it is a gas operated trap that beans the predator when it sticks its head where it ought not. The single biggest issue of trapping the ponds is resetting the traps. They are always triggered but its a waste of time if the only get reloaded every 6 weeks.

Borrowing Guy's description of what happens - "the rat or mustelid sticks its head up in the clear cowelling to get at the bait (which it can't as its in the little pottle on the right hand side. They have a bait that currently stays active for 6 months and are working on synthetic bait that will last longer. The victim pushes a small trigger that releases a piston. This piston smacks the vitim in the head at 30kg/cm2 which is more than the DOC 200's.
The piston then resets as its spring loaded ready to go again, apperently the dead victim encourages more vermin to come and often they eat the victim 1st before entering the trap!"

Now that's some punch, that's gonna wreck your day if you're a baddie! At $180 a pop and enough CO2 to fire 12 times, 2 traps could feasibly knock out a couple of predators per month. With the rats in the swamp i reckon we'd need more than 1 cartridge per trap per year though....

Thursday, October 29, 2009


There's this really cool university study from some years ago into the infectiousness of people who give off a good vibe. It goes something like this. When you test people for optimism at age 16, and test again at age 60, people tested will tend (strongly - overwhelmingly strongly in fact) to have the same degree of optimism or pessimism whatever their age. In other words, it remains very constant. People who think the glass is half full, Vs. those who view it as half empty. Barring acts of god, violence or traumatic events which deal to everyone no matter their outlook, you can say a person on the whole has a pretty stable outlook on life. Now, the study was by way of an experiment and it went something like this. A group of strangers were judged on their optimism and then a room was filled with people - half who were optmists and the other half pessimists. They were not allowed to speak, only to look at each other. When they were taken from the room and their outlook tested, the pessimists actually scored far more optmistically - happily maybe? In other words, the optimists give off a vibe of some sort that can catch on. In the real word we all know people who we would rather not be around when we feel ratshit and all know people who can cheer us up.

Where is this going?

Well.... the current (soon to be deposed) AWF&G Council has 10 pessimists, one perhaps optimist (I don't know he's too sick to go out in public) and one known hippy partaking of hippy activities invlolving a type of tabacco frowned on by the police. The sky must be falling! We have no money! There are no ducks!

Some positivity would be in order, and it catches, so even 6 new councillors with a positive outlook, will be a very very good thing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Empire Strikes Back

It was I guess, inevitable that the current AWF&G councillors would mount a challenge of some sort against our campaign. Which they have, by way of a sort of open letter that justifies their existence. Unfortunately the content just runs down our ideas, there's not a sign of anything new there at all. God it's laughable, our campaign has sparked a whole lot of back-stabbing of current councillors by other councillors, and now in a 'united' front they come out with a half arsed newsletter. The best part for me though is that whoever put pen to paper, spelt the purported sender's name wrong!

And that about typifies what we have to put up with.

Vote for change... please.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Boaaaaaarrrrr!!!!!!!!!!! (Part III)

It was with much anticipation that Friday rolled around and then departed. Saturday saw a leisurly drive to WOPWOPWOP (place name undisclosed - after all, how can I be sure who's reading this?) arriving at Craig's place around noon. We rolled up in a cloud of Prado mud & debris, had a nice cuppa and a campaign catch-up. A few test shots to make sure I could hit the ~100m target (which I could) then Craig showed us how its done by taking out a turkey at roughly 300m. Holy fishbait! Tim and I look at each other with raised eyebrows.... Then we set out with rifles for a walk around the place. The area is steeped with history, and Craig's knowledge of the property is second-to-none so he was able to describe how the potato crop was growing by the ancient storage pit, and how the burial mound was likley to have at least 15 long deceased persons in it. We walked past his duck ponds - spectacular, followed the main river to the bush (I WILL fish up there)and then set off on a walk around the property boundary to see if we could find a goat or 2.

Walking up to the brow of a hill I spied two billys, one carrying a great set of antlers! (oh, ok, horns). I hissed "get down!" and then we sneakily-snuck to the top of the hill, crested the brow and set Tim up for a shot on the big boy. Well! Tim took it upon himself to create a world wide lead shortage and increase the value of global lead ore mining stocks in his attempt to bring the goat down. The futile fusilade (yeah yeah Tim, I know, you'll get revenge later)sent the big ones packing, while some nannies and kids stayed around... safe as houses as it turns out because Tim's ammo supply was expended. Having taken care of my usual trip 'unexpected lay down on my back' (this time courtesy of catching my foot on the top wire on a fence crossing), i felt replete, the day having offered all it could. Good mates, spectacular scenery, a great fireworks display care of Tim, yes, we certainly had it made. But WAIT! There was more! A caving adventure. Sliding off into a little flooded gully, Craig lead us through a sneaky little tunnel.

This was going from awesome to freakin spectacular - especially when we then ducked down a real hidey cavern where Tim had a gulp of underground water. Back to the car and after negotiating some feral mud (the Prado ate it up) we got back to Craig's for a bite and a cuppa. As we ate I sensed his urgency so we forced the final couple of gulps of steak down Tim's gullet (he's getting lots of stick just because I feel like it)we jumped in the Prado (have I told you how much it loves thick gooey mud?) and drove up to the get out point. (Nick promptly falls on ass down bank). At this stage the wind was swirling from the south East, ok for our shooting position. Glassing the area prior to our arrival revealed 6 little piggies coming down to the baits - had to be a great sign! Walking (at Craig's pace that's jogging for a mortal like us) to within 50 m of the shooting pozzie has us within easy range of the little piggies, who moved here, ambled there, and trundled off here and there munching grass. It was great to watch, and with me settled in to shoot I made sure I had the cross hairs on each of them at one stage or another. Craig tells us the piggies are probably only a month old - NO WAY!!! They look like targets to me but ok, I'm with the expert. Now the wind is really playing up, we're facing North and it's swirling around the hillside we're on. Little piggies are on the move so we do as well... and darkness is closing in. The glasses and scope reveal a bigger beast out at the 400m+ mark, but suddenly the wind is right up our jacksie and "wooof!" the pig calls a warning and they're all off. I'm just stoked to have had the rifle on 6 little piggies because I know that I could have taken each of them at some stage or other. No jangling nerves or shakes.

So we head back home and then up to another spot, picking up a spot light on the way. Not anyone's preferred method of hunting, but this is a pork trip so checking out other baits makes sense. Another mud bath for the Prado to wade through, which she does admirably. :) We stop and get out. I'm travelling with the red night light on the Led Lenser on, Tim's got his white light on and Craig just strides through the pitch black, occasionally flicking the light on for a look. We get above the bait and suddenly there it is - a pig! A shootable one! Quickly I take a rest on a rock, Craig's down beside me, god knows where Tim is :D Craig switches the light on and I quickly line up the beast he's got lighted up - hell no, its a possum! So I say "Its a possum". In the darkness I sense Craig sighing and thinking "why do I do this to myself?" (he's far too nice to say it) before saying "no, the pig's behind the tree" (you berk!).. and out it ambles. I line up on the chest area behind the leg where Tim has told me to aim and BOOM the pig folds up. Cranking the bolt back ready to chamber another round, I realise the pig quite dead. The autopsy later reveals a perfect killing shot that has smashed through the spine for an instant result. I'm quite proud, because you gotta know what was happening at the time;

"Ignoring the lava flow, I made a quick adjustment to take into account the flash flooding and thunderstrom that were threatening to mess up my aim. Off hand shots at 520m are never easy, especially when blizzard conditions and falling meteorites come into play. All in all the passing tsunami may have upset a normal mortal, and knowing that a small black hole was bending the bullet's trajectory, well heck, only a pro could have made an allowance for that...."

Craig made quick work of gutting the sow (maybe 70lb?) and I had her on my back and back to the car. Hanging her in the shed I felt pretty damn stoked at the result of our evening's work.

Next morning we got up pretty early considering. Craig fed the calves while Tim started firing test groups and reloading, in his quest to work up a magic load.

We all then set off to see if we could find a goat to shoot at. Up by the scene of the 6 little piggies from the night before, we are suddenly looking at a small mob of goats. Craig offered me his .280 so I grab it and (not kidding this time) drop the running billy at 80m. A spine shot too (very proud moment). I have another shot at a goat thats looking unhealthy and find we have 3 goats down. Tim takes the back steaks and wheels from a small tasty looking goat and we then take the bodies to add to the bait pile.

Arriving back at Craig's its time for home. We stop to see Guy in Te Awamutu and then rumble home in a cloud of mud dust and filth. A great trip!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Who We Are

So, with elections upon us, its a good time to talk about who we are and what we want to do. Here goes -

Andrew John (AJ) Buttimore

AJ’s a 27 year old business owner, operating in the building sector. AJ was first introduced to our sporting way of life at the age of 5 by his father, and he continues to hunt the Waikato area. Wing shooting is AJ’s passion, and he’s a very active upland game and waterfowl hunter and is well known in the Waikato region. An advocate for the German Short-Haired Pointer breed, AJ participates in both the Auckland and Provincial GSP clubs. Living on a farm in the Papatoetoe area has given AJ the opportunity to work very closely with ARC and local schools to plant over 4,000 native trees on land unsuitable for farming over the past 4 years. He’s been an Eden Papakura Clevedon Miranda (EPCM) F&G Club committee member for thirteen years; and is interested in youth education and as such has been the club’s youth convenor for two years.

In AJ’s view "The traditional concept of anglers and shooters organising and controlling their own sport is the correct base model; and local people need to be involved in resolving local issues, so the regional concept carries a lot of weight. I believe in the fish and game having a closer relationship with licence holders. This should go hand and hand in involving youth to ensure that our recreation today is still the tradition in years to come. Habitat must be maintained, managed and expanded to ensure waterfowl and upland bird numbers don’t decay, and that water quality issues are managed for the improvement of our region’s resources”.

Craig Carey

Craig's a 36 year old farmer from the Te Kuiti district. Craig's been a passionate hunter and angler all his life, and wishes to follow the example set by the previous 3 generations of his family who have put something back into their sports by taking up roles in Fish and Game and Acclimatisation societies. Many may remember Craig's grandfather who served hunters and anglers for 28 years, and his uncle who served as an honorary ranger, and is still a dedicated and knowledgeable fisherman in the region. It will be their examples and knowledge that Craig will draw on.
As Craig says "Hunting and fishing have defined large parts of my character, and farming has given me a good insight into conflicts between the different groups that should, in reality share a close relationship and similar goals. I’ll bring an ethic of hard work and a common sense approach to getting the best from our resources".

Nick Foster

A 40 year old born and bred kiwi, Nick lives in North Shore City with his wife and daughter. The past game bird season was Nick's 31st, and he's actively pursued trout and game fish both nationwide in NZ and also overseas for the past 30 years. An ardent wing shooter, he spends a good deal of time hunting upland game throughout the upper half of the North Island, and in summer can be found chasing trout in the Auckland Waikato, and other regions. Nick's a member of the Upper Piako Wetland Management Association, and served as the Association’s Secretary in its formative years. Having held management positions in various multi-national businesses, Nick has the skill set as well as the desire to make a meaningful and positive contribution to Auckland Waikato Fish & Game, and to serve the best interests of the region’s license and stakeholders. Nick leads a group of avid waterfowlers who manage and maintain a wetland area on crown land for the public good and he regularly invites new participants to our sports to enjoy new experiences.

Says Nick "Helping a kid or a newbie bowl their first duck or hook their first trout is the pinnacle of enjoyment I can get from our sports. Teaching them responsibility, and about ethics - its all part of being a sportsman".

Tim Holland

Tim's a 32 year old Sales Engineer from Auckland. He's been a passionate hunter since he was young, for which he thanks his dad. As a lifetime hunter and occasional fisherman, Tim's committed to ensuring our right to hunt and fish, and our success whilst doing so, continues unabated into the future. Tim has a 7 year old boy that he takes out hunting and shooting as often as he can and Tim's determined to make sure his boy has the same or better opportunities as Tim had. A member of the Upper Piako Wetland Management Association, Tim's also a key member of a group of hunters that maintains a significant area of publicly accessible wetland in the Upper Waikato.

Tim's responsibilities to his group include annual recruitment of a junior shooter to join and enjoy the opening weekend of each shooting season.

James Pettley

James is 33 and has lived in the Waikato most of his life, working in the rural sector. A well travelled sportsman, James has hunted and fished throughout New Zealand and overseas. James is very active in field sports, and has witnessed first hand changes to habitat resulting in the reduction of sporting opportunity, something he wishes to help slow the progress of. James sees access to game birds and fish for all as a birth right that needs to be protected for future generations. "Standing as a councillor I will bring a determination to improve our sports based on my experiences both here, and overseas".

Guy Ralph

Guy is 36 and is married to Rachel. Between them they have a family of 6 spaniels and 2 labradors. Guy lives near Te Awamutu and owns a number of businesses in the rural sector, including Auckland Waikato's first licensed Registered Release Site for upland game. Guy is hugely passionate about field sports and fears that we are losing opportunities for current and future generations. Guy is avid in his pursuits of upland game hunting, gun dog trialling and conservation of habitat. A member of many clubs and associations (The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Te Awamutu F&G for 9 years, Ohinemuri F&G 5 years, Working Spaniel Club 8 years, Waikato Gundog club 2 years and Waikato Gunclub),Guy is a recognised expert on game bird husbandry and management practices, as well as being an enlightened and environmentally aware dairy farmer. Guy has been active in the last ten years encouraging more newcomers to our sports; and regularly takes juniors out hunting. He relishes putting a fly on the water, mainly fishing in waters outside the AWFG area but see similar issues facing other regions.
Guy's been a regular attendee of AWF&G council meetings for many years.

Dickie Sansome

Dickie is 43 years old, married to Helen and has lived and worked in the Northern Waikato for 6 years. He lives on a small farm and earns his living growing crops. Dickie's been a game bird hunter for over 30 years, but probably has spent more time controlling predators & pest species than hunting game. A very active member of Te Kauwhata Fish and Game Association, Dickie was elected Secretary of the club this year. Currently working on a project to encourage young hunters by teaching youngster’s gun handling and safety skills, Dickie is also coaching them to improve target shooting.
In his own words "I have been an entrant in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, and am working towards an award by implementing the Judge's advice on my own farm. I believe that farming with respect for the environment is key to maintaining and increasing both fish and game populations".

Grant Summerell

Grant is a 42 year old native of Morrinsville, where he lives and works as a solicitor. With his Labrador Jeff, Grant is often seen in or around the region's wetlands, rivers and drains hunting duck and upland birds. Grant is active in the creation and preservation of habitat and considers that now is an opportune time to make a deeper contribution to our sports. While Grant is not presently an avid angler he says "It is my intention to use my skills to improve hunting and fishing conditions, and hopefully encourage more people to be involved in order to preserve the future of our sports".

Following, is the group's vision:

Group Statement:

"As a group, our vision is to maximise opportunities for the region’s anglers and game bird hunters. We aim to do this by changing the focus of AWF&G to an organisation dedicated to protecting and growing the available resource – doing so while we keep to the statutory role of the council which is to set the objectives that AWF&G paid staff are tasked with achieving.
The AW region is blessed with abundant (but shrinking) game bird hunting and angling resources and we aim to ensure that those resources are enshrined for our children, our children’s children and so on, in perpetuity.

We aim to set Auckland Waikato Fish and Game paid employees the following objectives:

1. To be at the forefront of the bridging of the relationship between rural land owners and the angler/hunter
2. To mend the relationship between AW and National F&G councils
3. To work with the rural land owners to offer guidance and encouragement to not only preserve wetland and recreational waterway resource, but also access to the resource. This will entail education and assistance, rather than continued negative publicity.
4. To become an organisation that undertakes (or pays other institutions to undertake) research with regard to population trends amongst our fish and game bird resource within the region. Only with research can informed decisions be made as to bag limit setting (applies to both fish and game birds). Thus our intention is to sustainably grow and harvest the game resource.
5. To move towards a more educational focus, with greater communication with license holders. Only by communicating F&G’s vision and strategy can plans be put in place to tackle issues and individual objectives. Education of individual license holders will increase the overall knowledge of not only WHAT F&G is, but HOW F&G best works for them.
6. To increase revenue generation. This is to be done through increasing sales of licenses (rather than simply raising license prices), encouraging recruitment of new participants (junior or otherwise) to our sports while retaining our current existing license holders, and through selling of consultancy services to the areas of the community that stand to benefit from the skills of our expert staff.
By achieving our stated objectives within a 3 year period, AW F&G will be well placed to further the organisation's ability to consult, educate, organise and generate additional income streams.

Why your vote is important to them:

"As both a group and individuals, our team members are passionate about our sports and what they mean to us. Each of us recognise that we have an ongoing commitment and responsibility to our outdoor angling and game bird hunting pursuits, and that recognition has brought us together. Our backgrounds and professional skills are diverse, however we share a united vision of the future and will use our skills to best serve the resource, and in turn the hunters and anglers who enjoy using the resource".
How you can help them:

"We know that kiwis embrace an attitude of “she’ll be right mate”. That’s what makes us kiwis! But the fact is, that unless you vote in the election, and encourage your hunting and angling mates to as well, you can expect another 3 years of the same as what you are currently getting. Now for some of you, what you are currently getting may in your view be perfectly adequate – but we need you to think outside of your own circumstances to those who are not so fortunate. For every license that is not renewed, that’s one more ally that your sport has lost".

D Day

Tomorrow the elections begin. By now we will know who we are up against in each ward. I shall place my candidate profile on-line, and i shall behave like a good boy so no one can throw me out of the election for breach of regs. I have every reason to believe that the current crop would... but we've been oh so careful with our approach to the election, even to the point of having the Returning Officer verify what we can and can't do. And it turns out that we've been a bit, shall we say... cautious in our approach. So we'll open fire tomorrow and see what happens when smoke clears a bit.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

God help us

The NZ Fish and Game model is unique in the world, in that license holders make up councils, that drive the direction of the paid staff, set rules and regulations and ensure that F&G sticks to its statutory obligations. In theory anyway - but the system is easily corrupted. Self interest, commercial gain... all the vices that humans are succeptible can rear their heads within any group of people. Which is why, I guess, each region has 12 councillors.

So, it was staggering at yesterday's meeting to witness the council members present unanimously vote to close F&G lands too all but the pond holders ion those blocks for the first 9 days of the duck season. The value of the blocks is over a million bucks, paid for - and this is the critical point - with money taken from license holders, or more accurately, paid for via the license revenue take. In other words, everyone who bought a license of any sort in NZ (game bird or fishing), and who is a shareholder in those blocks, just got told "no, you can't go on the land that you bought".

2 of the councillors driving this 'initiative' happen to shoot on those blocks. So they just got paid for exclusive shooting priviliges - these are the same councillors who fought tooth and nail to keep upland game preserves out of Auckland Waikato under section 23 of the Wildlife Act - because they are perceived to be paid, exclusive hunting. The conflict of interest is staggering, as is the lack of foresight. I trust that the repercussions are that these councillors are voted out.

They should be, they just ripped us all off.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Opening Day Reports

TT rang to say that opening on Tarawera was legendary, with many, and big, fish caught. Milo texted to say he was heading over to Waikato spring creeks in search of clear water. Early season's not really my thing in terms of stream fishing, dark rainy days and skinny fish - well, let's just say the best is yet to come. One of Guy's mates got '50kg' of trout at Tarawera today - just another indication that it could be a bumper harvest there this season. I really should pull finger and chase a trout or 2, but quite frankly a skinny little early season trout is a poor comparison against a fat and fit Albie. When they start looking up and sipping their morning tea and lunch off the surface, well then its time to see to the spotty fish. Not long now.