The first hunt involved pincer moving on an area that held birds early in the season. Mitch and I (with Brutus and Ruby) had to move down through the bush while Mick took Heidi down a gulley. Andy and Craig worked Max and Keira. The plan worked pretty well, Mitch and popped out and put up 4 birds immediately; but being hens they were safe. Mick shot a cock bird and the other guys had no shots. We regrouped and decided to work the 100 acre paddock. As we crested the brow to work our way down, 5 birds jumped 4-500m ahead. They really were spooky. We worked down the gulley to a natural tunnel, the only cock birds high tailing it out of range - one making the mistake of flying over Craig who was blocking. he knocked out feathers and told us we'd find the bird further on. Through the cave we emerged on a large flat surrounded by manuka regrowth. The dogs worked the bush edges down to a gorse thicket. I moved around the back edge as the dogs pushed in. Then the unmistakeable sound of a cock bird jumping. I let him get out to a safe firing zone and fired a split second before another shot rang out. Craig and I had doubled on him. I fired first so naturally claimed the bird :) . He was an un-banded and untagged bird, large in body and sporting a 37 bar tail, most likely a 2+ year old bird.
Then Craig's earlier bird was found - it had flown another 200m from where shot before dying. We worked back towards the vehicles over some broken scrub country and even though bird sign was abundant we only bumped a couple of hens. Finally we neared the farm tanks and worked down a ridge towards the river, suddenly it was "birdy" with chances coming quite fast. I missed a leaping cock that then evaded Andy and Craig before Mitch coming over the ridge pushed a cock my way and I was able to drop him 40m out. We worked a final patch of gorse before getting back to the trucks. 5 hours had yielded 4 birds.
with time approaching, Andy and I split from the others and headed for the car. 3 hours later and Andy was delivered to his folks' place. I got home, dropped gear in the garage, hung my bird and had a shower.
Today though... the clean up. First up I emptied the crap out of my layout blind.
Then it was time to take off the boat blind. The good news was that today's weather was perfect for drying the nets and grass before rolling up and storing them. Threw them on the car to dry.
Cleaned the under/over, put the sea dekes away, shouldn't really have left them in the boat but had been hoping to get up North before the end of their duck season; but that's finished now.
Having squared everything away, I'm ready to pack my travel bag and head south.