Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tagging holes

Spent a day pot-holing today, or more accurately, marking karstic holes on GPS and map. Why? Because our pheasants are running around in tomo country and because dogs have been known to fall into them. Our party recently lost a dog (fatally) down one, so Craig and I decided to go and mark the more dangerous ones. Hell, there is no shortage.

Here are a few...

We must have marked 50 odd. With names like Serious Shit and Mother of God, you know we found some very deep holes. I've hunted pretty damn close to most of them, with no real inkling of what lay behind the blackberry or under the fern.

Craig's a bit more adventurous than me and climbed down some. Not my cup of tea so I stayed above ground acting cool, but silently freaking out that he would be stuck down a hole in his red bands...

Anyway, we loaded them up to Google Earth and then graded them by seriousness. Seriousness being the likely outcome of a dog going into one. Job mostly done, but I don't think we found them all....

Friday, April 27, 2012

Very cool resource for identifying NZ aquatic bugs

Ben Wilson, Fishery Manager for Auckland Waikato Fish & Game sent me a link to Landcare NZ's Freshwater Invertebrates Guide, an online resource that is comprehensive as well as totally useable.

I must admit that identifying nymphs & invetebrates other than the very common, or very distinctive, has not been my forte (despite owning a first edition copy of the classic Norman Marsh tome Trout Steam Insects of New Zealand, how to imitate and use them).

Thanks Ben, I'll be an avid user.

Big Angry Fish - Lives!!!

This Sunday afternoon, Nik & Milan's show finally goes live. The Big Angry Fish website is now active, with advice, gear reviews and episode updates. Its slick, I like.

Only thing for me is that the timing of the airing is crap, with duck season starting I'll be asking the Domestic Executive to tape this stuff for me. (Yes, you heard that right, video-tape. If its not rods, guns or outdoor clothing, I'm a slow adopter and a bit suspicious of technology.....)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Field & Stream First Shots Photo Collection

Some of these shots are really great. I'll post a few of my favourites, but I reckon you should look at all of them.

Crazy what's on your doorstep

My god, NZ is beautiful. I have to admit that I had never been to Andy & Christa's part of the world, which is kinda shameful to admit. Flown over and gazed down a ton of times.  And only 2 and a bit hours from the big smoke…. Andy & Christa’s place is a wee chunk of paradise. Matt and I were there at Andy’s invitation to hunt Canada geese. In my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined the sheer beauty of the region, so the hunting inadvertently took a back seat to lapping up the peace and quiet.

Layout blinds on a sunny day accompanied by bird song after a poor night’s sleep are a recipe for a nice doze… at one stage Matt & I were asleep when a rather large flock of paradise ducks came in to join the goose dekes. I snapped a few pictures of a young drake bird and Matt may have got some video too.

Our hunt was quite exciting even if the shooting part was over all too soon as the geese had ideas other than alighting with a few mates in a paddock. Those that came to us from the west were decoyed, but the majority of birds wanted to join their several thousand other compadres in locations other than where we were. The birds are definitely mobbed up and consequently hard to hunt. However a few nice flocks came in none the less, and we took a few ranging from young birds to a couple of wizened old campaigners.

Trout shot....
 Packing up in the early evening light and crisp air was pleasant, the drive back uneventful and all in all it was nice to be able to reflect on how lucky we are to live here. Crazy what's on your doorstep if you take time to stop and observe.
Thanks Andy, Christa and Matt, for a glorious day in paradise.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Can't sleep

2 weeks out from the duck season and insomnia has set in. Usually any lack of sleep is work-related, but not at this time of year... it's duck related. Almost everything is sorted on the preparation front - only waiting for my shotgun permit from DOC which was requested a week ago but has not shown up. Opening day is bigger than Xmas and Ben Hur combined in my world. So, the ponds are fed, maimai's dressed. Boat motor is serviced. Everything is checked & double checked. This year Rick is hosting Tim & Hunter Grounds so he will not be with us on the big day, however I'm sure that we will catch up with the him & luminaries later in the week.

I've been looking for some really big decoys for hunting on the briny. Local stockists were out of Higdon Battleships, but then I found these really big, ugly, mis-shapen Tanglefree's down at Will's Firearms. They are so wrong that they're actually perfect.

At 55 cm long they ought to get noticed... and despite what the experts write I'm not certain that the elongated anatomy issue will be noticed by a duck. I'll probably darken the head of the hen and do a few other touch-ups.

Anyhow, by the time the season rolls around my eyes will be hanging out of my head.....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jase nails a beaut

Got a picture in this morning from Cock; his South Island head is a beaut and worthy of the mile wide grin.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The insurmountable wall

11% of all voters (who bothered to vote) cast a vote for the Greens at the last (2011) General Election. Up from 5.3% in 2008. Whilst a whole bunch of them appear to have been ex Labour supporters disillusioned with Labour's crappy performance you can't ignore the fact that the Greens are growing.

The Green's conservation spokesperson, Eugenie Sage, is barking mad. She'd have us living in caves wearing leaves (fur requires mammalian species, and regrettably NZ in its original state lacked those. Bat skin g-string anyone?) in a flash. Her speech on the Game Animal Council Bill in Parliament demonstrates the Greens thinking that anything not born/bred/originating in NZ should be eliminated. Russel Norman, Green Party "Male Co-Leader" (kumbaya) is in trouble then. He's an Aussie. Watch out Russel, Eugenie's coming for you!

But seriously, what this means for hunters is that we face growing political and social opposition. It is unavoidable. The Green movement is an easy one to join. (If you feel bad about consuming too much milk from plastic bottles, you can vote Green and assuage your conscience). Green is an easy message to teach kids, especially in NZ which heralds a global image of being clean and... green. Many of the Greens supporters are urbanised, thus have little or no connection to grass roots rural NZ. It is not their fault that they've not had the opportunity to harvest a duck, pheasant or trout. By joining the green movement though, they perhaps feel a connection that they would not otherwise have?

It is the responsibility of all of of the hunting fraternity to stand up for our birth and legal right to hunt and fish. The NZ attitude of "she'll be right" will not serve us well going forward. At the F&G council meeting on Saturday, a chap of Australian extraction who has moved here to pursue outdoor sporting activities/a better lifestyle not available at home due to the banning of duck hunting and reduction of rights to own and bear firearms warned "Anti hunting is like a cancer. It builds slowly and in pockets. But when it forms a wall, you've lost. Don't let your rights be reduced as we did. The wall is insurmountable".

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Today I enjoyed the 5 hours spent in a Fish and Game council meeting. Add in the 3 hours round trip and it was literally a working day. It has not always been so enjoyable. But today the license holders turned out in a show of support for our sport. Mitch in particular agitated appropriately, drew attention to points requiring clarification (or agitation) and overall it was a rather refreshing meeting. I sense a sea change.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Killing some time

AJ from Beretta NZ sent me this link to Barbour's shooting game some time ago. Use it to "kill some time" he said. Now the days drag by as the season approaches.... staying focused is quite hard. Best bury myself in overdue assignments before the bosses get upset.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Resourceful Anti Hunters

In the UK and globally, there are some very well organised anti-hunting groups. We have to acknowledge them, even if our beliefs are fundamentally and diametrically opposed to theirs. I believe in my right to (and back my ability to) harvest my own food. Natural game meat is not only tastier, but healthier than stuff served up on a styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic. I enjoy the hunt. I respect my quarry, as do the majority of hunters. Certainly, there will always be an element that spoil the image of the majority, but that works both ways. Antis who do stupid things that put themselves in danger fit into exactly the same bracket as idiots who mix firearms with alcohol.

Back to the thrust of this post. Read this to get an understanding of what potentially we in NZ could face in the next wee while. It pays to know what's out there.

Thanks Guy for the link.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Decoy movement

Motion decoys have been with us for a longish time now, especially wing flapper types. If you sit at the local park pond watching what ducks do and say when they're in relaxed mode, you'll notice that they tend to preen and clean themselves quite often. They do this by quickly dunking and shaking water off themselves, including sitting "up" and flapping their wings.

Higdon's Splasher Flasher imitates this movement beautifully.

Duck fever has taken hold....

Hearing protection

Some time ago, a group of us, all shooters, gathered in a bar. All of us to some extent suffer from hearing loss due to the report of firearms hitting our unprotected ear ways. Due to the level of background noise, we all struggled to hear each other speak - which was both comical and serious at the same time. My hearing is bad enough now that I'm quite conscious of having to ask others to repeat what they just said. Sometimes instead of that I just nod and say "yeah" like I'm agreeing with what they've said, if I don't want to appear rude. My mate Andy put me onto a good source of well priced customised hearing protection - as I sit and write this I have an earful of a 2 pot mix to make a mould of my ear right down to the canal. It feels weird. The moulds ("impressions") will be sent back to the good old US of A for the baffle thingy to be inserted and voila, I ought to in 14 or so days, have customised protectors returned to me.

Its mainly bass type noise that I struggle with at the moment.... I hope to the almighty that while wearing these that I can still hear duck's wings as they whistle, which is quite often the only clue that you get that birds are around before you sight them - particularly in twilight which is one of my favourite hunting times.

Have a nosey here at the plugs. (perfect fit).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Goose salami

Tony and Graham dropped in the other day to drop off the fruits of our goose harvest - salami. I'm quite partrial to salami so this should be good. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Ti Tree

A perfect day greeted us for the annual maimai dressing day.Cool and sunny. As we arrived at the gulley a rather large cock pheasant ran ahead of us, and all the dogs got a whiff as we let them out of the car. The Ti Tree had grown quite bushy and abundant over the past year, so we'd knocked down 30+ bundles in what seemed no time at all. A couple of our maimais are large and easily eat 10 bundles each, so we can never get too much. We loaded the bundles onto Rick's boat, Andy's trailer and my boat, and headed off to the swamp. As usual some muppets had parked their cars in the boat turn around area - quite a few people were in the swamp. We arrived in time to have lunch and then set to getting the maimais dressed. The main thing I noticed was the absence of ducks. The thing about this time of year is that duck season preps ramp up; thus so does the disturbance.

Plenty of water around this year too.

Countdown to Opening Day is on.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Making a really big Ghillie Suit

Finished painting the fence this morning, so while I had all the messy stuff out, I decided to get started on TRBGS (THE REALLY BIG GHILLIE SUIT) for the boat. I started by sourcing 20m of jute and cutting it into strips. I actually started doing this on Friday evening, finishing last night (having spent day painting fence. You'll see fence soon...). I used my USMC K-BAR fighting knife to do the cutting, with regular touch ups with the steel required. Rambo would be sooooo jealous of me.

So, here are the materials I used.

Jute Strips.
Dylon dye - Olive, brown, dark green
Rubber gloves

Table salt for fixing colour

Now the kinda messy bit. Dye takes about 40 minutes to take hold. I had to do 8 batches or thereabouts.
Then it needs to be dried. I strung up a line in front of the freshly painted fence, and started my own Chinese laundry...

Enough to hide Bismark surely?

Well no, as it happens. Went away, had picnic, returned to nicely dried strips. Put the starboard net up on The Booger and began to dress it. Now remember, the issue with the supplied nets was length, so I began at the bottom, working my way up.

looking good for sure.... in fact with a bit of local vegetation put in it will be awesome.

but... and there's always a but...

only half the boat's done! I'm going to have to spend at least another day finishing up....

But I'm really really pleased with the result. Fence looks good too huh?

1,000,000,000,000,000 times better than this (below). (BTW I'm prone to slight exaggeration)