Saturday, April 27, 2013

A week out

With ANZAC Day celebrations falling on a Thursday this year, it made sense to take Friday off and get a long weekend. Dad and I had decided to go to the ponds and finish up some jobs that needed doing. With dad regaining mobility after his knee replacement, he felt up to pottering around, and I needed to finish up trimming willows at one of the mai mais.

I grabbed dad's dog Zulu, and as I pushed the punt in, disturbed a heap of birds on our nearest pond. I filmed the journey out through the ponds.....

Now that's what I call a shitwack of ducks. At the 2.30 mark there's a pure white bird amongst that duck tornado... a marked bird if ever I saw one.

The recent heavy downpour appears to have flooded the gutter, as the floor against the southern wall of the hut is soaked through. At first we had thought that the main water hose from our tank system had popped so dad removed a wall panel to check, no problems there (my gutter theory came to me during the wee smalls this morning). I dragged the what we call "buttercup*" from the Bollocks pond which took a while; then re-joined dad at the hut to repair some damage caused by rats. We laid bait and put down some traps, hopefully that'll nail them.

Roll on Opening Day.

*when I arrived home, my DOC hunting permit had arrived, accompanied by 2 flyers warning of noxious weeds. One of the pamphlets identified "buttercup" as Primrose willow. Best as I can remember we've had it in the ponds for 25 years or more -  its horrible stuff, luckily not as fast growing and invasive as Alligator Weed...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Getting Flocked Part II

Finished up my field greys and mallard hens today. Apart from 2 which are going back to the starting line...

The greys came out super well and I'm very pleased. May do some more this style.

Swamp tomorrow for a mission, will report in on birds seen.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Getting flocked

Over the past couple of weeks I've completely renovated my big salt water decoys by flocking them. I started with them first because they were about 20 years old and really manky. Most should have been binned but refreshing them seemed a good idea. I never dreamed how long it would take.... but anyway, I made a start on some of the field decoys today as well.

Here's what in my mind's eye the finished product will be like.

Kelvin from Canterbury sent me this photo of a Pacific Black Duck (Grey Duck), by Body Language Decoys

The above are all Body Language dekes


What mine look like so far:

The dark ones will be painted as grey's; the browns as mallard hens.

Trust me, those guys at Body Language are true artists. Mine will never end up looking that good.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Golden Dorado

Hope TT doesn't mind me posting up some of his photos from Argentina. He's there for 2 more weeks - looks awesome!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Goose-Roar video

Matt spliced together footage from the weekend's goose/deer hunt in his latest hunt video.

Unfortunately he included a photo that shows my Tele-tubby hat mount camera. :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Weekend photos

Matt sent me a stick with a bunch of photos and some video. I'll wait until he produces one of his film clips to use the video; but here are some of his photos.

Many parries and some mallards:

 A duck tornado:

Adam, Matt & Stags

At some stage this old guy had a run in with an electric fence

Photos courtesy of Matt McCondach

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Nutters with too much money

PETA Plans to Fly Drones That Would 'Stalk Hunters' - this was posted up on our local hunting forum.

Along with the following quips:


1.Q. Whats the limit on drones?
A. In AWFG it is 1 per person, All other areas it is 10.

2.Q. What do drones taste like?
A. Chicken.

3. Q. How do you pluck a drone?
A Its easier to skin them.

4. Q. What shot size and choke is best?
A. Whatever you have in your shotgun at the time.

5. Q. Can I shoot drones with an unpinned shotgun?
A. Not in AWFG game area.

6. Q. What is the limit on drones?
A. Read your regs you idiot, they are not on the game schedule.

7. Q. Can I get a drone mounted?
A. Depends on whether you can find a deviant taxidermist. Tell him to wait till the blades stop spinning as it can cause reproduction problems later in life.

8. Q. Can I use lead shot to shoot drones?
A. See question 6.

..... and so it goes. From the fairy-land where PETA people live. I have no problem at all if people have a point of view on the world; but it crosses the line when an individual's rights to hunt are compromised by ideological idiots.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Goose roar

The other day I received the Auckland Waikato Fish and Game special game bird season newsletter; the tone of a couple of articles was (again) so much like "you're a naughty child, now do as I say because I know best.." these guys keep missing the best opportunities to encourage and bring along for the journey rather than berate. One of the notes was kind of pertinent, in that goose hunters were asked to refrain from hunting geese near prime duck hunting spots in order not to drive ducks away, so when Matt sent me a text to say that a farmer wanted a couple of hundred geese moved along I immediately told him that it was too close to the duck season and it would be rude to ruin Adam's duck spot. Matt then told me that Adam was keen as mustard so it was game on.

I got home from the swamp (tagging & scrubbing the maimais) and even though I was mildly exhausted I put on a brave face in front of Mrs Snuffit and loaded the dekes and layout into the car. Luckily a part I'd needed to get my gun functional had arrived mid week so everything was set! Daylight savings hours were to end on Saturday night (hunt was Sunday morning) so even managed an extra hour's sleep. Up at 04.45, on the road and met up with Tony, Grant, Adam and Dave; Matt was still in transit. Off down the farm race to set up. Just before dawn we were ready. The boys reckoned I looked like a Tele-tubby with my Drift camera perched atop my hat, but I was keen to add to the footage so sucked up the abuse...

As the sun rose we were greeted with the sight of a "duck tornado" as thousands of paradise ducks wheeled around us and the recently harvested maize crop. They zoomed overhead, dived into our decoys, ignored us and the dogs and then to top it several hundred mallards joined the scene.

The first flight of geese appeared over the horizon so we hunkered down, called and flagged. In the group of 7 was a hybrid goose and every eye in the blinds was drawn to it, so that when the birds passed acroos from right to left I wasn't the tiniest bit surprised to see it fold and drop like the proverbial sack of poo.

Grant with the marker bird (snow goose?)

The action was pretty slow as the weather conditions were not conducive to getting the birds up off the harbour. So in the lull when Dave said "hey, is that a couple of deer over there??" we thought he was joiking. But no, a pair of fallow stags and a hind were feeding towards us in the scrub a couple of hundred metres away. Matt had a couple of OO buckshot 3.5" loads on him, so Adam grabbed them and keeping low made his way around to cover and set off to stalk the deer. 15 minutes later a shot boomed out and then another - he'd dropped both of the stags! We set about photographing them and then left Adam to gut the animals. Back in the blinds the action was non-existant until finally a flock appeared and approached. Unfortunately Adam had chosen this moment to return and was caught in the open, the geese flared off and headed to another location.... but over the next couple of hours birds showed up in good mobs and we dropped 30 odd in short order.

A goose pile

A truly memorable hunt, if somewhat impromptu and perhaps marriage wrecking :) - yup, a few brownie points are now owed.

I'll try and work on some video coverage in the next few days. My camera's battery went flat mid morning so I missed quite a bit of the shooting action.

So now, to the duck season with still quite some preparation needing doing.

Scrubbing up & tagging

the duck party's in a bit of disarray at the moment. Dad's had a knee replacement and is on crutches, Tim's moved with his family to Invercargill, Andy's just had a baby (congrats bro), Rick and Jase are in Fiordland chasing Wapiti. So that left the absolute shittiest job of the shooting year to Paul, Tom (hamstring injury!) and I. We decided to get a real early start to knock the job over, and met at the Huntly farm just after 7am. Working in the cool of the morning was great as we cut and bundled ti-tree for camouflaging the maimais. We'd decided that with such a small crew that rather than kill ourselves we'd go for 18 or so bundles - 3 per maimai. So by 9.15 we were loaded and on the road to the swamp. As we were preparing the boats, dad arrived with the license tags needed to mark the ponds. (Each year hunters must tag their hunting spots with a license tag, giving them the first right to hunt that spot on any given day during the season). We arrived at the hut and were met with a magic sound - hundreds and hundreds of mallards were calling their heads off. The simple reason is that with the drought (which to my mind hasn't truly broken despite some recent rain) the ducks are congregating where there's water. Because of the sheer local abundance of birds (our party and our neighbour's ponds are stream fed) we need to be very careful about how we manage our hunting. I have decided on a mallard drake only policy. Grey ducks, Shoveler and Mallard hens will be off my menu for the start of the season. I hope that other hunters are mindful of the affects of the drought.

We left the crippled Tom to clean the hut and began to ship bundles of ti-tree scrub out to the ponds. We pushed off hundreds of birds as we went. At times there were masses of birds wheeling overhead, calling and buzzing the ponds. By the time we reached our furthest pond, The Willow, many of the birds had settled in our neighbour's ponds. As we hit the nail for dad's pond tag, a sound like thunder boomed through the trees - the wing beats of masses of ducks! Holy cow, it was a sight to behold.

I got a clip of the boat ride out to The Willow pond.

We worked solidly through and by 3pm were back at the landing and ready to head for home. Scrubbing done for another year.