Saturday, September 14, 2013

So much water

I arrived at the landing road pretty much on time. Grass growth was phenomenal; warm wet weather is great for bringing on rapid growth. There was a stiff south westerly blowing, giving the day a raw edge. It felt like hunting weather.

As I waited by the river I noticed groups of ducks playing in the breeze, just moving back and forwards aimlessly, then suddenly a group set up uniformly, cupped their wings and dropped. At the crest of the stop bank I had a pretty good view of what they were attracted to - recently flooded paddocks would offer easy food, worms and floating bugs and seeds.

I sat and watched as birds arrived, landed, preened and threw up spray. A couple of hares jogged by as well. I must admit that it was pretty relaxing to kick back.

Soon dad and my uncle, Tom, arrived with the boat. We got loaded up with our gear and 200kg of premix concrete. The concrete was to fill a hole in the dam, the inexorable wear of water had dug a cavity which we'd be filling.

The hole

We went for a tour of the ponds, to survey for spraying and to check the traps. The ponds looked fantastic, clear water, weeds not overly prevalent and a few ducks were in residence, notably pairs of shoveler.

A double dose of trouble for predators

At Park we found the trap tripped.

A ferret had met his end, a good catch. Back at the dam, the dog got excited by the trap there (we'd not checked it on the way in) and found another vermin victim.

This time a stoat, normally difficult to trap he'd got sucked in by the dog roll bait.

Dad and I got cracking digging out the cavity in the dam, then pouring and mixing the concrete while Tom got himself up on the hut roof to repair the leak around the chimney. He was at it for quite a while, during which dad and I installed a new sink at the rear of the hut, checked over the spray equipment and got rid of some rubbish.

Looking good all round, hope we get a good season next year.

... and with so much water everywhere, the ponds look awesome.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

F&G gets its comms plan right.

I am very heartened by the message received below! At last I am being personally addressed by the CEO of Auckland Waikato Fish and Game. This is a big step (even though it shouldn't seem to be one in this day and age) and I can only applaud Ben for his message. (Note, I have masked some of his email address to stop nasty web crawling a$$ holes from spamming him).

11th September 2013
Seeking your Feedback

Dear Nick

Now that the game bird hunting season is over, I'd be grateful if you could take some time to consider the future direction of your sport. In November, Fish & Game Councillors will be setting regulations for the 2014 game season. As we signalled earlier, Councillors will be considering remits calling for an outright ban of mechanical decoys. If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to share your views on these decoys with us, or indeed on any other game regulations.

We recently produced a draft Waterfowl Strategy for the Auckland/Waikato Region, which considers the main issues that impact on waterfowl numbers. For each issue, we give a brief introduction on how waterfowl are affected, Fish & Game's current management actions, and the proposed options for future management.

The aim of developing a waterfowl strategy is to provide clear policies that will guide Council in achieving its goal of increasing the Region's waterfowl population. I urge you to take the time to read the Strategy, and we'd greatly appreciate your feedback on it. The draft Strategy is available on our website here. Otherwise, send me an email with Waterfowl Strategy in the subject line, and we'll reply with the Strategy attached.

Any comments on the game regulations or feedback on the draft Strategy can be sent to me at: or write to Auckland/Waikato Fish & Game, 156 Brymer Road, RD 9, Hamilton, 3289. As you may be aware, we recently launched an extensive waterfowl research programme to determine the factors limiting duck numbers. In the Auckland/Waikato Region we are co-ordinating a university study on wetland productivity, and we've also started a large study on mallard duck productivity. The mallard research page on the Fish & Game website can be found here. Fish & Game is a small organisation with limited funding which comes from licence sales. We can only succeed with the help and encouragement of hunters and anglers.

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter, and I look forward to receiving your comments.

Best Regards,
Ben Wilson
Chief Executive Auckland/Waikato Fish & Game

Auckland Waikato Fish & Game NZ, 156 Brymer Road, RD9, Hamilton, Tel: (07) 849-1666 Credit must be given, where its due.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Spring has sprung

... the grass has ris', I wonder where the birdies is? It had been a while between going goose hunting, and actually shooting a goose. The boys had been watching the population we’d hunted last time, and thankfully they’d broken into smaller groups. The breeders are off breeding, and the sub adult and juvenile birds had broken into smaller groups of grass-hoovering packs. Tony had scouted and identified a spot where the larger concentration of birds had been feeding; although groups of birds were dotted all over the place, Tony said this paddock was probably the closest spot to the magical X.

One of the hassles with lengthening daylight hours is that to be ready and setup pre-dawn, you have to be out of bed early… so the alarm went at 3.30 and I was on the road at 4.15 to meet up with Chewy and Tony. I parked at the farm shed and when Tony arrived we chucked my dozen shell decoys, blind gun and bag into his truck. Chewy showed up so his gear went in too, so we’d be taking only one truck down the farm. We arrived at the paddock, found our landmarks in the dark (humps of soil from drainage ditch), and set off loaded down with gear to find fresh goose kak. A good stiff westerly was blowing – the ideal wind as it was directly away from the roost. While Tony moved his truck we got our decoys set in small groups to mimic what Tony had seen the day before. Finally, we were done. Guns loaded, and blinds closed. Darkness became gloom as the sun began to rise behind heavy cloud cover and we began to hear the first clucks as the geese began to wake up and move about on the roost. The first geese to move did so in the darkness, 2 silhouettes on whistling wings. Several more mobs passed by, not even craning their necks in our direction before finally a pair swung way downwind, set and came in. First birds down.

After that we had a few moments, Tony with a round jam, I got the cocking handle of my gun caught in my pocket with birds in our faces. It took a while to get the first 10 geese into the bag, then after that we had regular action. With 3 guns we were able to knock over several decent flocks culminating with Tony and I dropping 8 birds from a mob that peeled out my way (Tony was centre gun and I was on the left flank)… It didn’t all go in my direction though, with Chewy getting a number of chances on the right flank as most of the birds peeled that way in the morning.

By 10.30 it was quietening down, so with high tide at 12 we decided to sit it out and see if anything else came in off the harbour. Nothing doing in that department but Tony spotted a group of birds take off from a km away and beat their way into the wind. They got closer and closer and Tony laid on the pleading calls, 3 peeled off, set and glided in. A grand way to finish up, with exactly 40 birds down.

Handy gravel pile (there was goose kak on that too)

Gear pile - travel light when you have a carry ahead of you...
A bit of to-ing and fro-ing with gear and then a nice cold beer back at the trucks before a leisurely drive up the beautiful Kaipara coast to Matt’s house where we cleaned the birds, ate barbecued sausages and had another beer or two. The geese had layers of fat under their skins, they'd been loving the mild weather and good grass growth. The breasts were as large as any I've seen and on the whole the birds were of great quality. Having cleaned up, Matt and I went for a walk to survey one of his ponds that we’re planning to clear, re-plant and hopefully re-populate with bird life.

Pond & environs, a nice project-to-be

Tons of potential there but also quite a bit of work. Home by 4 and spent some time washing the decoys and cleaning out the layout which was a filthy mess. What a great day and a fantastic shot in the arm after a long and jading working week.