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Posts tagged ‘duck shooting’

Decorate with dead pigeons

Official duck shooting season commenced yesterday.

The big party to celebrate the opening of duck shooting season was planned for weeks.

The Swine House was decorated with wooden decoys, bales of hay, three dead pigeons (tastefully arranged), a life-size portrait of Daffy Duck and a bushy mai-mai in the corner. There were to be games: Duck Idol, a duck and spoon race, pin the tail on the duck, musical ducks and a duck chucking contest.

Agent of Death had a lamb, a salmon and leg of ham for the barbeque. There were three coolboxes full of wine, spirits and mixers to facilitate interest in the games.

So it was a real shame nobody turned up apart from The Warrior who wasn’t even invited.

In fairness, it had been raining rhinos and witches all afternoon. The Swine House paddock was a quagmire. In fact, ‘quagmire’ doesn’t fully describe the shifting, crawling mess of mud, which – if you stared at it after a couple of vodkas – appeared to advance menacingly in waves.

Being Irish, I wasn’t going to be put off by a touch of inclemency – which in any case was more than compensated for by lashings of alcohol. In case you’re ever invited to the Swine House, appropriate party wear is woolly socks, reliable jackets and extreme beanies rather than stilettos and body glitter.

I attempted to kick off the evening with a vodka & orange, but got off to a shaky start when I mistook Agent of Death’s ham glaze for orange juice. My stepfather in law was so preoccupied laughing – or choking on a lamb shank, it wasn’t certain which – I nearly succeeded in throwing out his glaze in disgust. Agent of Death saved it at the line with a last-dash tackle.

At 8pm, the gathering consisted of the family, Paul, the Kardashian Twins, Barry and his ADHD sons, The Warrior and a couple of his infested friends – enough to stage Duck Idol. Her Goatiness, Florrie and I judged the duck-calling. I don’t know about anyone else, but we had a blast:

“In all my years on the duck scene, I’ve never heard anything so shit. It sounded like the wicked duck of the west. I’m afraid it’s a ‘no’ from me.”

“There’s no doubting your enthusiasm, but you need to project from the diaphragm, not the sphincter. No.”

“You think you can come on here with your skimpy outfit and wiggle your tits around, but here at Duck Idol we’re looking for more. I’m going to vote ‘no’.”

“There’s no doubting your technique, but I just didn’t feel the emotion. To be honest, I just don’t think you’re hungry enough to win this competition.”

As it turns out, Husband demonstrated an extraordinary, previously unsuspected talent for duck calling. His performance was a startlingly original portrayal of a duck-hunter on the edge, a man driven to desperate measures. In a dramatic twist at the end, he mimed fending off a savage duck attack. It was a poignant and heartfelt blend of yearning, urgency and drunkenness.

There was no nepotism involved in my granting him my only ‘yes’ of the competition, and it was no surprise (to me) when he swept aside his competition to win Duck Idol 2011. He was so caught up in his victory that he sprayed his cheering fans with beer, thankfully direct from the bottle.

Agent of Death sulked because he only won a consolation prize.

The duck chucking competition was carnage: feathers, blood and lice everywhere. The kids came in handy for retrieving the ducks in the rain. Husband duct-taped his duck, but in the event it didn’t provide any superior aerodynamic advantage. Paul somehow flung a duck onto the Swine House roof. Gary pulled the head off his.

I left around about the time the dead pigeons looked like they were about to come to life and terrifyingly peck at my eyeballs.

Effluent challenge greater than ever

Cozy Dell

We came down to Oamaru to spend Easter Weekend with the Outlaws. Once we were here, it seemed pointless driving home only to return for the opening of duck shooting. Why not stay and kill two birds with one stone and maybe even an Easter bunny? Or better still, use a rifle.

Ok look, unless you’re vegetarian, I don’t want to hear how cruel hunting is, or how ducks probably don’t think it’s much of a sport (which is hardly surprising not having much in the way of higher intelligence). The living conditions of many domestic animals are appalling and the transfer and processing are crueller than a clean bullet through the head. We can duel if you disagree. (Except I don’t shoot stuff.)

While I’m on the subject, wasn’t the Royal Wedding simply lovely?

The Outlaw’s farm is like our second home. Agent of Death makes a terrific gin and tonic. The tangy aroma of fried fish first thing in the morning. A brown dog multiplied by a factor of three. And I’ve never come across a range of reading material in a bathroom more energising to the lower intestine:

  • New Zealand Fishing News – sample articles: ‘Squid tactics’, ‘Attack of the killer bream’
  • NZ Hunter (with a Deliverance-style picture of a stary dude holding up a set of antlers still attached to the deceased stag) – ‘Pimp your rifle: a new barrel in 7mm SRUM and a dial up scope’
  • Rod & Rifle – ‘Chukar NZ’s toughest gamebird’
  • Country Wide – ‘INSIDE: Special report: Irrigation’
  • Inside Dairy: Your Levy in Action – ‘Managing mastitis’
  • Dairy News – ‘Effluent challenge greater than ever’
  • Farm Trader – ‘Drills, slurry & fertiliser equipment reviewed’
  • Guns & Hunting – ‘Fitting a .223 true-flite barrel with an HCS suppressor’
  • NZ House & Garden – ‘Screenprinting made simple’
  • Country Living – ‘Organic tweeds for today’

My bowels have achieved an efficiency and precision that is, literally, moving.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of our dog. The change in his diet – goats milk, deer tongue, putrid rabbits – has resulted in some terrifying emissions from his butt. Sometimes opening the bedroom door in the morning sends a shock-wave sweeping through the house.

The other evening, Husband and I took Jed down to Cozy Dell, known locally as Nooky Cove, to wash off some of his insulating crust of cow shit. The temperature was perky. However, the light was gorgeous, with the late sun slanting low through the trees.

Husband's builder's bum was a bit camera-shy that day.

'Thank you' is Jed's command to give up whatever's in his mouth. For a dog, he has beautiful manners.

Husband builds cairn. Only because he knocked it over in the first place.

Jed waits for the off.

As a bonus, here’s a couple of vids of Jed diving for his water-logged tennis ball. He hasn’t QUITE figured out how to breathe underwater. Yet.

Jed lets Husband know just how cold the water is:

Heavy duck showers forecast

The first time Husband took Jed duck shooting, he ran away at the first volley of gun fire. (The dog not the husband.) He sprinted across paddocks, crashed through hedges, and splashed through creeks in his desperate bolt for the Outlaws’ farmhouse.

I had trained him to sit whenever he came to a gate, in order to open it without being impeded by a muddy puppy trying to batter it down with his tongue. Hence when he came to the farmhouse gate he sat in front of it over an hour, waiting for it to open.

Jed’s duck shooting experience was more successful this time round, despite his scooting under the car and refusing to come out. Eventually I went after him, crawling over several cowpats before I could get a good grip on his ear and pull him out.

I put on his lead before we set off after the hunters, who were stalking stealthily towards the creek. I had to coax Jed (it is possible that the uninformed observer might interpret ‘coaxing’ as coercion supported by some muted yet heartfelt verbal abuse).

Jed’s antipathy must have been the IDEA of gunfire, because he didn’t flinch when the guns went off; and when released, he charged across the creek and worked the ground like a pro.

He was extremely excited, and expended much energy swimming around in circles, but after the third duck shower he retrieved a real live semi-dead duck!

Husband pulled its head off.

He said it was an accident. Only intended to wring its neck, he said. Didn’t know his own strength, he suggested. Could have happened to anyone, he alleged.

Jed ran around the paddock with the duck’s head in his mouth.

As a child, I used to dream of the shape my future might take. Funny how NOT ONCE did Prince Charming rip the head off a duck.

I’m just saying

Dead ducks

It was a big weekend: the opening of duck season. There were days of preparation: oiling and polishing guns, stocking ammo, building mai-mais, exhuming camo suits, and applying swear words.

Check out this TVNZ’s Close Up segment to learn more about what The Men got up to over the weekend, although without the extreme bonding, arse footage, loaded coolboxes, pin-up girls, 4WD waterskiing, and nakedness in jacuzzis (The Outlaws do not have a jacuzzi).

Although Husband denies attempting to surf across the creek on a blow-up doll, I noticed some jittery eye-contact between him and Brother-In-Law upon their return.

Thankfully, the males of the family do not subscribe to the theory that alcohol and loaded shotguns are a top idea. At least, they may have a nip before going out, but in fairness whisky is about the only way to kick-start the system at 05:30hrs.


After the main event followed by an artery-nuking barbeque, we brought the puppies Jed and Lottie down to the creek. They are too small to retrieve ducks, but we wanted to accustom them to the sound of gunfire.

At the first volley of shots, Jed and Lottie flattened their ears and charged back to the truck, occasionally stumbling over their tails tucked between their legs.


Brother- Stepfather- and Mother-In-Law stalk their prey. I was reminded of Mother-In-Law’s terrible ability to snuff out a life in an instant.


Husband faces setting sun.


L-R: Jed, duck carcass, my arm


No shotgun required: Ajay scares the ducks to death . . .


. . . as demonstrated.




Jed digests a feather

Portrait of pluckers

Actually, several of them. Just back in Auckland and updating the blog with news from the weekend.

My Stepfather In Law, Craig (the one on the right) and his dog Morty. Craig was supposed to pull a sneer for the photo, but in fact this is more or less how he looks all the time. He is half as terrifying in person, but twice as terrifying when holding an axe.

The other duck shooters. All men had strict instruction to look menacing, but Husband figured the suit was enough. From left to right: Husband; Husband’s mother’s daughter’s boyfriend Ian aka Taffy; and Dave.

The men tried to persuade me to pluck, but I was having none of it after the stunt Craig pulled with Trevor the Trout back in 2004. I reckon thems that shoots it gots to pluck it

Herbert the Duck

Herbert was a happy little duck. He and his brothers and sisters paddled in the river, snapping at flies and dancing shadows.

Herbert liked sunshine, but he loved the rain. He and his brothers and sisters played with the raindrops and fished for minnows. They quacked and stuck their little ducky tails in the air.

One day, their mother said: “Children, it’s time you learned how to fly.”

Herbert was scared. What if he was not able to fly? What if he dropped out of the sky?

Herbert was right to be scared, because one day he copped a gutful of lead and died.

The End

Duck cemetary


When I first met my Mother In Law and Stepfather In Law, they lived on top of a hill in Te Anau. Dusk was falling as Husband drove the rental car up the 70° driveway. We rounded a corner and there, silhouetted against the lowering sky, was a tractor with its digger raised. At the corners hung two bloody carcasses twirling idly in the breeze.

If the moment had a soundtrack, it would have been violin strings plucking up a scale.

“What the . . . what the <expletive deleted> is THAT?” I said, pointing a quivering finger.

“Drain the blood, meat tastes better,” responded Husband as if that explained the matter.

This was my gentle introduction to a world of killing sheds, gut holes, knocking on the ‘ead, projectile pus and anal probing. I am now accustomed to eating breakfast while Margaret drains a doe’s abcess, or sitting on the living room sofa shooting possums out the window when the milking’s done. It has got to the stage where I’m all: ‘Dead deer? Pass the knife. And the steel’.

Given the way I have embraced country life, I was gutted (when Margaret or Craig are involved, it is important to point out that this is not in a literal sense) that I wasn’t allowed partake in the duck shooting. As a female, I was present in a purely supportive capacity: food preparation and provision, construction and materials, transport and logistics, underwear technician and specific totty.

I got over it fairly quickly when I realized how much hanging around is involved in duck shooting, allied with the ambient temperature in South Island at this time of year.

Yesterday, the Duck Shooters, their support team and associated groupies, went to cut broom to conceal the blind – or mai mai as it is called in these parts. Afterwards, the Duck Shooters modeled their camouflage suits, which essentially make them look like mouldy Yetis.

The Duck Shooters set off at 05:00 this morning. I was supposed to cook breakfast and massage Husband’s trigger finger but, well, I was asleep.

Since Husband wouldn’t pose for an official portrait in his Yeti suit, I am going to have to go with this one featuring only the pants:-

Terrifying: Husband’s killer instinct

[You were warned about the graphic images.]

Duck cemetery

Morty and Bambi: Craig’s dog confuses deer for duck

In keeping with the horrifying theme: abalone mince. Actually tastes pretty good

Champion duck caller

Arrived in South Island this morning for duck shooting. Husband’s a lot more excited than I am. It’s in his genes; his mother once won a duck calling competition

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