Having never participated in the “Summer Parrie Hunt” (special paradise duck season) before I was quite looking forward to the hunt – mainly because it was going to be a goose hunt in disguise. Out of courtesy to other hunters who would be shooting parries on the property, we’d not gone there for geese over the dark of the moon. The moon phase was actually full, but with moon set at ~ 4am we’d be getting prepared in absolute darkness. Our party consisted of the NAGS boys and the lads from Leigh, and we were expecting maybe 17 guys to be hunting the property in total. 04.00 the alarm went and I had a quick breakfast, coffee and jumped in the already loaded truck. At just before 5am I met Tony on the roadside and we had a quick catch up while waiting for Chewie. While we were chatting another vehicle pulled in and we met another guy who was heading further north with some mates. Nothing like duck season to get people moving in the pre-dawn! Chewie showed up so we drove out to the paddock we were to hunt and put my dekes and layout out with those already in place (the northern contingent had set up the previous evening). Then I drove back and parked by the farm shed, and jogged down the farm. We were ready, but still waiting for the other guys. They showed up soon after and we got ready for the 6.30 kick off.
|Part of our setup|
|Nera with a hen paradise duck|
|Ted collects a bird|
Finally the sound we were waiting for came – a ragged flight of geese came off the sea and headed along the tree line at the far end of the flat we were on, maybe a km away. Nate was over there set up for parries but it was shots from another party that turned the birds our way. With no wind they were just diabolical to try and decoy but we managed to put a few on the deck. A few more small flocks of geese came by and then the tap opened. Skein after skein of geese appeared on the horizon. Flocks landed in the paddocks behind us, more well out of range to the right and a further mob of maybe 30 ahead and to the left. With the situation hopeless, Tony released his dog to move the birds up. As the birds began to lift off another group came in to us from another direction and we were able to drop a number. Even after our shots the geese to the right didn’t take to the air – they did when we went to retrieve though. By mid-morning there was a bit of layout restlessness going on with a couple of the guys moving off. We decided to get the downed birds into shade as the temperature was now beginning to peak – the birds would go off quickly unless we could hang them.
|Chewie & Ted, Tony & Nera|
We used the lull while the ute was being collected to take a few photos. We knew the geese would need to feed, but it wasn’t until midday that they began to move again in earnest. By now the parries were pretty shy and we were close to limits so the call was made to stick to the geese. Over the next 90 minutes we had steady shooting and pulled the pin at 2pm with 37 geese down. The Leigh boys drove around the property picking up their mates and birds, then we drove in convoy across to Chewie’s place at Snells Beach to have a few beers and clean the bag.
We set up a production line and got the birds breasted, the breasts into ice slurry and then bagged within an hour and a half – all destined for sausages and salami. As I was leaving Snell’s Beach I noticed a massive plume of smoke to the north – and as suspected it was reported later on the TV news that a massive bush fire was burning out of control. The drive home was pretty pleasant – plenty of time to reflect on a great “Summer Parrie Hunt”.
The first shipment went out to a swampy grove – Craig had already prepared feeders and drinkers out there. We carried the crates down and released the first lot of birds. As they moved from the crates into the undergrowth, they simply melted away – great camo. After 2 trips the back of the job was broken and I bid the lads goodbye, hoping to be home by 3 and see the family. On the way I stopped by Tui Ridge to check the birds. Maybe 30 were outside the pen so I slowly walked them back in, checked the feeders and water and got back on the road.