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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

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

Relationship, for want of a better word

Just before Christmas, Salmiya invited us to lunch at her house. Salmiya was originally a friend of Andrew’s – she was at the party where we first met – but over the years we lost touch.

Some of this was due to her marriage to Ulf about four years ago. At the time, Salmiya and I were fairly close and she called to break the happy news. I had no idea she was even going out with someone. She had been acquainted with Ulf for roughly three months, give or take a day.

I knew she was bound to marry him regardless of anything I said, so I wished her all the best and pounded a steady percussion on Andrew’s eardrum about ‘what is she THINKING?’ (During these one-sided conversations I often referred to her as ‘the girl’, so there you have an idea how much I disapproved.)

Salmiya took to confiding really rather salient details about her and Ulf’s sex life. I’m not used to discussing length, girth, stamina, flexibility and centiliters, so I found it all very stressful. Going around to their place for a barbie was particularly difficult; it was near impossible to maintain polite conversation while Ulf handed around the sausages.

Occasionally I would complain to Andrew about Salmiya’s X-rating, and he used to say things like, “Look, Niamhie, she’s a nice person.”

As if that closed the matter.

One day I phoned Andrew at work:

“Hi honey, it’s me. Just been chatting with Salmiya and I thought you might like to know, she and Ulf had sex last night. Apparently, he came home from work a bit frisky so he groped her for a while beside the fridge and one thing led to another and they moved on to the bedroom. Then Ulf suffered a spot of – I believe the correct term is ‘erectile dysfunction’ – so Salmiya did a sexy dance for him using the bed post as a prop. They opted for the missionary position, but Salmiya went on top for the grand finale.”

There was silence for a moment, then:

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Well, if I have to put up with it, I really don’t see WHY YOU SHOULDN’T TOO.”

Interestingly, Andrew never exhorted me to call her again. No doubt he was worried about the psychological trauma of subsequent barbeques.

About two years ago, I bumped into Salmiya again. She had broken up with Ulf. It transpired he was an alcoholic, which explained why much of their sex life featured erectile dysfunction and sexy dancing. He had also had numerous affairs DESPITE the erectile dysfunction and sexy dancing.

Thereafter Salmiya and I met up sporadically. One night she mentioned an Aussie bloke she’d met the previous weekend. Seemed he was quite keen, but she was not so sure. He also lived in Oman, so the relationship – for want of a better word – was already emitting acrid smoke and what sounded suspiciously like a fizzle.

A couple of months later, I received a text message from Salmiya which read: ‘Am pregnant with Oman guy’s baby and getting married next month’.

I called her to clarify that it was at least the father of her baby she was marrying. I don’t know whether this helps explain anything whatsoever, but unmarried mothers are not allowed to remain in the UAE.

The girl did not use a condom. Obviously, neither did The Boy – but then he didn’t end up incubating a foetus.

Sorry, do I sound prim?

Well, good for me.

So she married Dave (she learned his name when she went to sign the marriage certificate).

Shortly afterwards, we had a hilarious conversation – well it made me laugh – where Salmiya was talking about purchasing a house in preparation for the arrival of the baby. Dave wanted to go halves with her. She said to me, 

“But I’m not sure. I mean, I hardly know him.”

I said: “Salmiya, you’re MARRIED to The Man.”

So ANYHOW, we were invited around to their place for lunch.

But it wasn’t really that interesting

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