I simply couldn’t believe what I was seeing; there were geese as far as the eye could see. Small mobs, large groups, mobs, flocks, congregations… you name it and it was there. And between the geese, paradise ducks were in plague proportions. The only good news for the farmer was that he was feeding fresh cut maize – competing with that mass of birds would be a losing battle. Our next challenge was where to setup, but Tony had that in hand as he’d spent time in the morning watching where the birds had landed before dispersing. We headed off to set up after the farmer had jumped on his bike to push the birds off. We setup for the predicted morning breeze with small clusters of decoys to mimic family groups. Matt arrived soon after; he’d be shooting elsewhere with his regular parrie hunting mates in the morning so our party would be Chewie, Tony and I.
Funnily enough I couldn’t sleep at all that night. The alarm didn’t need to go off – so after a few coffees and toast I was off to meet the boys. We got setup in the dark, having to spin the blinds and reset the dekes as our NE predicted breeze was coming from the south…
Sunrise was awesome, a burning orange/red orb smoking through a cloud-base and with that the sky filled with paradise ducks in swirling masses. We had guys set up in layout blinds with parrie spreads in paddocks around us and soon the sounds of shotguns popping filled the air. The occasional bird came our way but nothing really set, so we took passing shots now and again. Over on one of the wet areas, a steady stream of shots indicated that a heavy toll of birds was being taken, but for us the patience game was just beginning.
|50 shades of Tony|
As the morning wore on, the sky cleared of parries as they found un-hunted spots to setup and rest on, and the geese flights off the harbour became more regular. And as the morning progressed, the wind changed constantly, forcing us to frantically move our blinds around and change the spread. On the occasion that we didn’t, a mob of geese descended into the decoy spread on our left so we couldn’t maximise the opportunity… soon one of the other guys came over to join us, watching the big birds crumple from the sky had been too much for him to resist. The tally continued to grow until midday when the other guy had to leave to be at another appointment. Chewy and I hitched a ride with him to bring our vehicles in closer and as we did had to watch as Tony single-handedly smashed a mob of geese that descended, taking the full toll with every shot. Great stuff!
|one down, one up...|
By late afternoon we had nearly 70 birds down, plus a few parries that made the mistake of getting too close. Matt and his crew were heading back to HQ to clean up, so we’d head up to clean our bag. As we gort started a heavy shower put in an appearance and a smile spread over Matt’s face – “good for the farm” he said. The clean-up flew by with the usual banter and then I hit the road; tomorrow we would be heading for our second hunt in The Waikato.
|Old yella guts|
Tony had hooked up with one of his contacts who had been invited to a hunt on a primo Waikato farm, who had in turn extended the invitation. We knew that we were being tested when new filtered through that the farmer didn’t want any shooting until after 10am; but all you can do is go anyway and persevere. We’ve all spent plenty of time in paddocks looking at the sky, plus with a good hunt under our belts the day before weren’t concerned about taking a big bag. We met our contacts at the farm gate and soon set off to look at the paddocks we’d be hunting. There was a whole heap of goose kak and feathers lying around - but none of it was really fresh and even more interesting were the wads lying around, clearly the story we’d heard that a local who hunts the property often had had a decent bomb up recently was true.
Still, we got set up in good time, showing Travis and Manny the general patterns and reasoning behind our decoy spreads. We were on the edge of the largest Waikato Lake, Waikare and had plenty of time to take a look at her. Years of sewage dumping, koi carp infestation and nutrient runoff had turned the lake water “oranger than Fanta” to use Tony’s phrase. What a $hithole of a lake, simply unbelievable that in this day and age town authorities can dump sewage into a waterway of significance. Soon a lone honker appeared and answered Tony’s call, circled and came in. Then came the long long wait.
Early in the afternoon some lake hunters disturbed a huge flock of geese which turned the air blue with their calling.. they all simply crossed the lake ad landed on a shallow bar. By 4pm birds began to get active, but they simply weren’t using the paddock we were in and flew past us on their way to greener pastures. At that point many said he’d not seen birds on this paddock since Thursday, and the truth dawned in us that we’d not briefed him well enough on the scouting aspect that is the key to goose hunting success. At 5pm the wind kicked up and soon birds took to the air and our most promising moment came when 15 or so birds came off the lake directly at our spread with wind in their faces…. Some began to put their feet down when the all suddenly lifted in alarm. Chance gone, who knows what put them off? After that a torrential downpour arrived and for the second time in 2 days we witnessed a farmer’s happiness at seeing rain drench the ground. That seemed an appropriate signal to call it. It rained hard almost the whole way home… maybe the dry has broken.