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Setting goals and a solo hunt.

orchidmanorchidman Senior MemberPosts: 8,238 Senior Member
edited May 13 in Hunting #1
Decided yesterday to head out for a hunt today, unfortunately BH couldnt make it, Mark made excuses and I couldnt find anyone else to join me...........so I prepped the boat last night and was on the road by 6.30am this morning. While I was heading up to the harbour I counted my blessings as I saw the hordes of people rushing into the city in the opposite direction, heading to work.
90 minutes later I launched and headed down the river. To make the day more interesting I set myself the goal of only shooting Greenheads ( Mallard drakes)

For the last few months when doing charters,  I had noted an area in the river mouth that held a few birds and had already formulated a plan based on their location and the terrain.  I had noted that the birds would lay up on the mud banks at low tide and that there was an ideal spot to park the boat where it would be camo'ed up.
Here is a pic of the location....( taken after I was heading home)
To the left you can see a small outlet/drain that drains the mudflats and a dark spot on the left hand side of the clump of mangroves that I was sure had enough room to park the boat under. The only concern I had was that as the tide rose I would end up hooked up under the trees. But with the sun rising behind the clump to the right and the wind blowing from right to left it was a perfect place to sit on a rising tide.

After cutting some mangroves for camo I set the decoys, wedged the boat into the clump and camo'ed up. Just as I had the camo to my liking I heard a single quack......Oh crap, gun was still in its bag and the ammo was in the case up in the bow. Managed to get the 1187 out, fumbled a single cartridge out of the dry box and closed the breech in time to see a single mallard drake with his wings set about 35m away about to drop into the decoy spread. At the shot I helped him achieve his goal and I had the first bird down.
Here are a couple of pics of the setup from the boat....the first one was taken just after the tide had covered the mudflats...

This next one was taken about 90mins later as the boat rose with the tide and shows the narrow 'window' I had to shoot through...

Once again I was using the 1187 with the 26" barrel as it was 'handier' and easy to swing than the 28" V3. Next arrivals were 3 mallards-1 drake and 2 hens. As they swung low over the decoys heading straight in towards me I dropped the drake with one shot and let the hens go... 20mins later a group of 5 birds showed up and followed the same flight path. Picked the only drake out and dropped him and let the 4 hens go. There was a bit of a lull for about 30mins before a group of 4 birds followed the same path. Dropped the drake and gave the hens a pass...

By this stage the boat had risen into the mangroves to the point where my visibility was somewhat limited Lol ....as you can see from the next pic....

...so I slackened the stern rope, tightened the bow rope and decided to have lunch...while I watched to make sure I didnt get hooked up under a branch and sink the boat......
Lunch was sweet n sour pork and fried rice... ( leftovers from dinner the night before)

Birds were few and far between and I had  4-5 groups of birds, mainly females, fly in and land but couldnt get a shot at the drakes before they departed.

While sitting and waiting for the next drake to arrive I noted a white bird about a kilometre away heading straight towards me. At first I thought it was a Royal Spoonbill Heron as there is a small population in this area........but as it got to within 200m I realised it was a White Heron or Kotuku .......Grabbing my phone and keeping very still, I was hoping it would hold its course and fly directly over me. There is only one breeding colony in NZ which is located almost 1000 kilometres away on the West Coast of the South Island and they were almost wiped out by 1941 as their feathers were highly prized. The breeding colony was down to 4 pairs before they became protected and they have slowly recovered since then and there is now a NZ population of around 120 birds. ( They are still classed as Critically Endangered over here) After breeding the birds scatter throughout NZ and it is extremely rare to see one. I was not to be disappointed as it held its course and flew past about 30m away.........
Here are the 2 original pics I took on my mobile.......

And here is a cropped closeup of the second pic.......
Maori legend refers to these birds as 'He Kotuku Rerenga Tahi' which means "a white heron's flight is seen but once". It is used to indicate a very special and rare event. This is only the second one I have seen in my lifetime, the first was about 28 years ago just after my Grandmother passed away and it was  at a distance of about 300m. Maybe its just coincidence but seeing one a short time after my cousin passed away made me think..............

The tide finally started to drop and I knew it was time to leave cos while it looks like these birds are walking on water, it indicated that if I stayed any longer I would be stuck there for another 11 hrs....Lol.

Plus when I looked behind the boat I could see that I had almost outstayed my welcome...

Nek minit, a single drake flew past with the wind up his tail going like hell, a single call had him drop the airbrakes and peel off  into a steep dive over the decoys. He crumpled at the shot and crashed into the midddle of the decoys. It was a bit of a struggle getting the boat off the mud into the drain and I broke my paddle doing it but I finally picked up the last drake, got the decoys into the boat and headed back to the ramp.
5 Drakes and an awesome time, the highlight being able to see and photograph a Kotuku, a very rare event.

Still enjoying the trip of a lifetime and making the best of what I have.....


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