Thursday, 5 January 2012

The third hunt that wasn’t; the second hunt

I’d heard the news about the rains up north; all those northern rivers drain to my little hog-hunting haven.  I spent a few days in denial, consciously skipping the news, avoiding my daily visit to the Bureau of Meteorology website – pretending that not knowing would make a difference to the situation – and worst of all, not ringing my good friends Bill and Nora for fear of the bad news.

Bill and Nora have been running a very good operation these past few years and had transformed what was an overstocked moonscape into a lush and profitable block.  The pig hunting has been great since the first rains in 2007 and with flood after flood the pigs had plenty of time to cement their place in this part of the world.  My October visit was a very successful hunt with one morning’s hunt producing over twenty hogs in a couple of hours’ walking along the bottom edge of a thriving lignum paddock.

So a couple of days before Christmas I gave them a ring and got Nora on the line. Nora loves to chat and we talked about the missus and the kids and the council and the house and the price of stock and the lack of bargains.

 Wet weather makes the last 400 kilometres of dirt driving impossible.

  “Before I go Nora, I was planning to head up in the first week of January with a mate, how’s the place holding up with all the rain and the rivers breaking their banks?” I asked cautiously.

  “Well we just got through last night as we drove home from Dubbo to stock up for Christmas and New Year. The Toyota only just made it through at the causeway and my-oh-my it was a slippery drive. We had three inches last week and we’ve had an inch twice this week and the flood has come under the fence down at the creek.  We’ve got seven new lakes and Bill reckons by Christmas Eve they’ll all join and we’ll have one big flood.”

  “Doesn’t sound good for you guys,” I stated, meanwhile the mental cogs turning as to the merits of driving 16 hours to wade through an un-huntable flood; that’s if we could actually get to the property.  Same time last year they were inaccessible by road for three months! “I’ll give you a call straight after New Year’s and we can decide whether it’s best to call off our visit; sounds very likely.”

  “I reckon so.  Have a nice Chrissy Dagga.  Hoo-roo.”

 The dusty scrub is transformed into "Kakadu" with the arrival of the floods.


With hunt three all but cancelled, I made alternate plans for hunt two.  What was meant to be a leisurely couple of days with the family in the New England region of New South Wales was quickly re-jigged to a weeklong affair in southeast Queensland on a block where I had some decent deer-hunting opportunities. With a bit of effort, filling the freezer with venison was not out of the question. The property is a mix of steep, heavily timbered slopes and gullies - home to the deer, and lush green rolling hills - home to fat cattle and irresistible to the deer.

The wife and I packed the Hilux the night before and in the morning we downed a quick breakfast before strapping in our two girls and hitting the road for the daylong drive. We were staying in a very comfortable cottage on the property and the plan was to have a “foodie week” – cooking up a storm for everyone and making time for a few solid hunts.

That first night we had a quick dinner and after tucking the girls in, I headed out with the cocky Harry, his son Roger and son-in-law Tom who was visiting from London.

We climbed into the old Nissan with Harry behind the wheel. Roger and London Tom were sharing the .222 Remington and I was working the light.  We cruised the paddocks for a couple of hours and the boys collected the meat we needed for Beryl to get everything together for our New Year’s Eve shashlik. I declined a shot under lights, as I was quite keen on a serious hunt the following morning. We hung the carcasses in the meat house and cleaned up our gear.

I got everything ready for the morning hunt and checked the girls before I hit the sack. The alarm was set for 4:45am...

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