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Thread: Taranaki October 2018

  1. #1
    Member Flyblown's Avatar
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    Taranaki October 2018

    WARNING: This is very long.

    I do most of my hunting on the eastern side of the Wanganui River catchment and in the Ruapehu District. It's an area I know well and I really, really love it. But the problem with places you know and love, you tend to always go to the same places, so this time I thought bugger it, and went somewhere else. I gave myself 10 days, and took off.


    Instead of turning off SH3 onto SH4 towards Taumaranui, I stayed on SH3 until Piopio. My plan was to work my way down through southern King Country and into the north of Taranaki, before heading into the guts of the 'Naki to visit an old mate of mine. After that I didn't know where I'd go, but had an inkling towards a couple of the inland river valley roads off SH3 down Waverley way, the ones that push up into the steep back country on the edge of the Wanganui National Park. After that I'd swing into Wanganui to an old friend, have a wash and brush up, and head home via another mate in the Waikato hydro country who I rarely see these days.


    Now, I'm pretty outgoing. I have no problem pulling up to talk to cockies over the fence, door knocking if I need a hay barn to camp in due to inclement weather. I'll ask the cockies about what they do, and I'll learn a little every conversation. Once in a while I'll meet someone who doesn't want to have a yarn for whatever reason, all good, and very rarely I'll meet someone who doesn't want me within 10,000m of where they are standing. So I leave (politely). The interactions I have with our rural people have led to many wonderful memories, new friendships all over the country, and in hunting and shooting terms, some priceless new permissions.


    This trip was no exception, and I can say with complete sincerity that the people of back block Taranaki are the friendliest bunch of genuine hard case Kiwis you'll ever meet. What a bloody good bunch they are in general, only the one dodgy cunt was encountered, after 30 years of tripping about like this you can spot the DCs quickly. In the same way you can spot the GCs as well, and the Taranaki is full of them.


    (I am deliberately vague with names of places and people when it involves shooting - you will understand why I am sure. If you want to open up new permissions - do it yourself.)


    So after a while the country south of Piopio started to open up. I always aim to stay on the unsealed roads as far as possible. A beaut long drive down Waitewhena Road put me in touch with Bill the goat musterer, a photo of which I posted the other day. Meeting Bill could be the start of something properly worthwhile, as for the first time I've met someone who genuinely seems to have the whole feral goat mustering business worked out. What an interesting bloke. I explored a couple of the old coal mines and made some notes of likely camping spots and DOC hunt permit blocks for future reference.





    The town of Ohura looked mostly abandoned apart from the God Squad in the old prison. I drove down the high street and noticed a shiny new bike outside the Ohura Cosmopolitan Club. Could there be life in there? Sure was, it was Cockie's Night with a happy hour and all, so after having a well-earned snooze in the truck for an hour, I joined the lads for a few cold ones. What a laugh, learnt so much about the decline of Ohura once the coal mines closed down, but also how the hardy residents have made a go of it since. Seeing as how I was drinking with the president of the bowls club, located behind the pub, I was offered a nice flat spot on the lawns to camp. And shoot the rabbits if I saw them! Which I declined, because whilst it sounded like a good idea at the time in the pub at 10pm, I didn't think the residents who weren't in the pub would necessarily approve…



    So yeah, Ohura certainly has seen better days. It's one step removed from a ghost town to be honest. One thing that struck me was that even though I was a fair way from my normal route, certain names from Ruapehu way were recognised and before long you find you know some of the same people, and that's always a great way to get a conversation going.





    Next morning, having slept well and left the bowling green diggers alone, I drove off up over the Waitaangas, with the intention of finding Kiwi Road, one of New Zealand's most expensive roads to keep open per vehicle that uses it. I always duck off down some of the No Exit roads to see who lives at the end, and as usual wasn't disappointed. Well bugger me I came across an old mate who works several of the large stations in the region - at this time of year he's tail docking - and after we got over our mutual surprise he introduced me to the station owner and his wife, which led to a fine late breakfast in the paddock in exchange for my pathetic efforts helping to round up lambs.


    Moving on I crossed the watershed and drove down the other side towards the coast. There's some spectacular country up there, and of course millions of goats. I passed the odd old farm that had become a tumbledown scrap metal yard, with dozens of wrecked vehicles and three dozen horses ambling around. These properties are a fucking blight on the landscape but thankfully - compared to Northland for example - in this area they were few and far between.


    It's worth pointing out to would be goat shooters, that goats on private land are regarded as potential revenue, and few cockies are willing to allow goat shooting. It is seriously aggravating to land owners when fuckwits drive around the back blocks with guns, shooting at goats. Don't do it. There are thousands in the DOC land, you've just got to make the effort to get in there.


    I found Kiwi Road and headed up to the tunnel at the top. Not a track to rush on. Or to meet someone coming in the opposite direction on.





    Up on top of the range, the land opened up and it was immediately obvious the station there was "under new management". Smicko new fencing and a lot of good looking dry stock. I found the new crib hut occupied by the highly entertaining and talkative owner. Exchange went something like this, starting with the owner's greeting to me:


    G'Day mate.
    Hi, how are ya?
    Good mate. So they've taken the signage off your vehicles have they?
    Eh?
    Well it's the 1080 isn't it.
    Er, what?
    So, Jared isn't it?
    Er, no, its Dave.
    So they sent another new bloket that doesn't know the station then, did they? Plus, you didn't ring.
    What? Ring who?
    You know that drop you did in August killed one of my bulls?
    Did it? That's not good. But I didn't do it.
    I know you didn't do it, but your lot organised it, it's those bloody pilots from out front. Hopeless.
    Er, I think you think I'm DOC, right?
    Yeah mate, all incognito these days eh! Sneaky bastards, what a bloody rabble. Must say your ute looks a bit flash for DOC though. Give you a winch just to get up here, eh!
    I'm called Dave and I'm a tourist. I don't know Jared, and I'm certainly not DOC.
    Eh? A TOURIST? Why didn't you say?! I was about to chase you out for being useless! What the fuck are you doing up here? Bloody hell, we'd better have a cup of tea and some bikkies!


    And so started a new friendship. I left much, much later full of tea and bikkies and a whole heap of stories and a lot of very informative discussion about how to return a previously unprofitable station to profit. On the way out I spotted a mob of goats cleaning up a paddock of kale, so I pulled in at the next house, which I knew to be the previous bloke's brother-in-law's place. I introduced myself and said "there's a mob of goats eating your kale".


    Now in many countries around the world, a woman with a two month old baby on her own in a remote hill country setting, might be considered vulnerable. Maybe the conversation would be held through an open window, maybe she'd have a shottie behind the front door just in case. But in the Taranaki, a stranger arriving in the late afternoon to inform the resident on pest matters is regarded as a useful person.


    Righto, let's go get them.
    Eh?
    You put that trailer on that quad and I'll just get Jock's baby carrier. And let out that huntaway and heading dog from the kennel over there!
    Er, ok. What, are we going now?
    Come on, they'll not be there long!
    (Cue quick panic on my behalf, have I got the right boots on, I need a piss, is it going to rain, shall I pack some sandwiches, oh I mustn't forget my pill at 4pm, oh shit she's back, bloody hell)


    And so began my first ever goat muster, with a young mum I'd never met carrying her baby on her bosom, striding off across the hills at a pace I could not remotely keep up with. Long story short, we failed to catch the goats, but we gave it a bloody good go. At least we found where they had busted the fence to get in and out of the bush block. It's tough trying to retrain sheep dogs to muster goats, when they've been taught for years not to give goats a second look. But there's that much money in these goats that its worth training up a couple of heading dogs that can get up round the sides and above the mob, and a good huntaway to flush them out of the scrubby guts. I regret not taking any photos - no time! - but what a blast. I was absolutely buggered after that.


    I had a plan to camp at the bottom of the valley where a mate had had some success in a DOC block, so I crept down the track, all the while with eyes and ears peeled for the incoming station owner who was, by all accounts, unable to share the road with anyone else. And you really, really don't want to get punted off the track by a fast moving V8 Land Cruiser. Safely down at the bottom, I made my way to the station homestead to let them know who I was and what I was hoping to achieve, but no one was home. I found the bush block access and was a bit disappointed to see a 'no vehicles' sign, so I tracked back to the homestead in the hope that someone would be coming home from the school run or something like that. Luck was in town!


    I knocked on the door and a freakin' beautiful young woman answered the door in her gym lycra, all bouncy and trim, just knock out bloody gorgeous, the kind that makes it very hard not to address her without staring at her tits. Like the ugly middle aged fool that I am I tried to ask permission to access the block in my truck, but luckily her hubbie appeared with a big smile on his face, probably used to that reaction I guess, the lucky bastard. After another humbling and warm welcome, we yarned about the funny day I'd had up top and the characters I'd met. This bloke was only too happy to give me access to their block, and pinpointed the best spot to camp on the map. No worries, he said, fuck the goats, you can kill as many as you like, and he pointed me in the direction of a run of river frontage where they have lots of problems. The goats there are impossible to muster out of the river valley as they bolt straight into the native at the mere hint of a dog. All right then! Time for action. I showed him a selection of the weaponry I'd brought with me, four centrefire bolts, a centrefire semi-auto and a semi-auto rimfire. That should cover the bases.


    What the young bloke didn't tell me was that the track into the camp spot and DOC block was the bull paddock. Now I'm not afraid of bulls, I work with stock regularly. But I know a cantankerous bull when I see one. Number 341, Angus, angry and absolutely not willing to share his paddock with me. I have a hilarious 14 minute video of me trying to get past this bull… this a screenshot from the vid of him rubbing my bull bar with his head. Bastard.





    When I got to my camp spot I knew I was onto something special. I glassed down the river bank and there were dozens of goats. I selected my T3 .223 Super Varmint in the DPT chassis and went into full sniper mode.





    There's no point me posting lots of photos of messy head shot dead goats, you know what they look like. One slightly less messy photo will do. I selected three nice plump young nannies and put them up on the track for the return to camp, so I could take the back straps and cook up my favourite bush curry for tea.





    It just went on and on. I ended up walking about 2½km upstream, picking off the goats as I went. By the time I turned around and started heading back, animals that were in the bush on the way up were now out and waiting to be shot. Goats really are dumb creatures. I got 23 in all that evening, with only two misses, one of which clean took off his one horn whereupon the stupid billy ran 10 metres and then stopped and turned back to see what had just happened. It was the last thing he did.





    Luckily I'd set up camp before I went out, as it was a wet one. I cooked up a storm in the back of the canopy and enjoyed a few cold ales. I counted out my ammo and realised if I had many more sessions like that, I'd run out pretty quick. Just as well I had so many rifles in different calibres!





    The next morning was a repeat performance, except I got out the Creedmoor for a bit of longer range goat popping. Now I know this rifle isn't everyone's cup of tea. It's bloody heavy, the stock isn't much of a looker, the suppressed 24" barrel is cumbersome… but fark me it shoots bloody straight.


    I carry it with a double sling and the weight doesn't bother me one bit. I set up on a mob at anywhere between here and there, out to a maximum of 600m, and just whack 'em. Shooting the 143gr ELD-X, this rifle is a genuine laser, the dope is finely tuned now and I've got the process of ranging, dialling, shooting, observing down to a pretty slick operation. As you can tell, I am in love with this rifle and spend a lot of time worryingly caressing it. And its bloody good at putting a smile on other blokes' faces too, the kind of bloke who's never shot anything further than a couple of hundred with his old .270… when he clean bowls a goat at 500m first shot its instant love and now he wants one too… guaranteed deal maker this rifle.








    It was time to leave now and the weather was real shabby. I drove out down towards the coast to see if I could catch up with someone I know in Urenui, and for a bit of a pastry treat in New Plymouth. On the way down I met the bloke from up top who had thought I was DOC. A measure of how relaxed people are, and how quiet the roads are too, was that we stopped and yarned and shared a flask of coffee in the road for the best part of an hour, an exchange that I really enjoyed as again I took away some really useful nuggets of information specifically about soil testing and fertiliser which is something that interests me. No one else came along, we had a vista of extraordinary beauty spread out in front of us… NZ at its best.


    Further down the road I stopped to take photos of a collection of rusty old Land Rovers and Range Rovers. Now, it is not normal to do this I know, but I like taking photos that I can then use to torment mates of mine who were suckered into the unnatural love of Land Rovers at a young age, and have never been able to shake it.


    One thing for sure, when do you ever see a pile of old Toyota Hilux and Land Cruisers rotting away like this? You bloody don't see it, that's what!











    Just as I was getting back in the ute, a bloke on a quad comes hurtling out of the nearby farmhouse with a look of steely determination on his face. Ooops. After quickly ascertaining that I wasn't pinching parts, and that like him I spoke with a cultured English accent (ha!), one more firm friendship was struck up by the side of the road. What an interesting bloke! He even allowed me to gently tease him about his addiction to British cars that break down a lot. Top man. We worked out solutions to all the world's most pressing problems, from Saudi Arabia to melting Antarctic icecaps, as you do with complete strangers. After more tea and bikkies, it was time to hit the road.


    The Urenui visit didn't work out, so it was into New Plymouth for a quick restock. Took all of 30 minutes. Who needs urban when there's all this splendour to get back into? So off I went, this time up towards Matau. After tooling around on the wet tracks, I realised I was in for a soaking so I decided to seek out a barn. I turned down a wee little road to nowhere down the Waitara River, and in front of me was a beaten up side-by-side with an elderly gent and his dogs. Now his dogs knew I was there but the gent was unaware, so rather than come right up and honk the horn (there are four horns on my Hilux, for maximum effect) I sat back and waited. When he pulled over, I hopped out and yet another roadside friendship started. This bloke was a corker of a Kiwi, hard as nails, done it all and still up for more despite being the sunset side of 80. After a chat about where I'd been and the state of the weather, I asked him if he had an implement shed or hay barn to camp up in for the weather sure was surly. No problem, he says, so off we tootle to the shed. Brand new! Flat floor! Out of the wind! Perfect. He left me to it and I set about making tea.


    Out of the corner of my eye I noticed some movement by the edge of the forestry - hares. I hadn't asked about shooting, so I walked down to the house to ask if he would mind me taking a hare or two. Once his elderly wife had gotten over the shock of discovering there was a man camping in her shed, I was invited in for tea which I declined in favour of hare shooting and a good walk. What a walk it was too, beautiful country, gentle rain, the old 10/22 did the bizzo on the hares. One for me, two for the dogs, job done.





    Life on the road need only be simple, the simpler the better. Here's my camp, a ground sheet, inflatable mattress and a One Plant sleeping bag inside a USGI bivvy bag. That night I got a visit from a morepork who attacked my red light and nearly gave me a fucking heart attack.





    The following morning, I spent two hours over breakfast with my hosts who were truly magnificent fun. Having sold their dairy farm several years ago and "retired", they mooched about not knowing what do with themselves, so they bought a run-down property in the middle of nowhere, and started all over again! Why? For the love of it, that's why, they don't need the money, they need purpose and good health. Inspirational. If I could be 1/10th of them when I'm their age, I'd consider that an achievement.


    Now it was time to think about visiting my mate in the wop wops. But I was a day early, so I took the longish windy drive out to Aotuhia Station to see who was about. No one. It was Friday night, so the whole station had been abandoned in favour of beer and skittles in Stratford I assume. It always amazes me how station folk will leave their property wide open like that. Not being able to let anyone know I was there, and aware that I was probably on camera coming in, I did the right thing and left and camped in the DOC block at the trailhead of the Matemateaonga Track. There I was very surprised to meet a hardy Swede called Erik who had cycled in (and I had passed earlier). We shared a meal together and he told me he was going to the station to seek casual work. I told him to be patient, someone would be along to feed the dogs eventually.


    Now this next bit I won't write up in detail because I've been asked not to. My mate in the wop wops is a character I've known for a few years now, a real hard case. He doesn't want me identifying where and what and for good reason. Suffice to say I spent a couple of fantastic days hunting the abundant fallow with a tricked out AR15 with a flippin' brilliant but expensive Leupold scope, light and laser. And riding a new Suzuki King Quad 750cc which was a whole new level of fun compared to my Honda TRX500. What a blast. A lot of hard work, because every single one of those deer were recovered and processed no matter that it was 2am. I was a bit buggered… once a year I get to see them and I always look forward to seeing them again as soon as I've left.


    After that I was at a loose end. I'd phoned my mate in Wanganui and he wasn't gonna to be back for a couple of days, so where now? There were a couple of valley's I'd never been up so up the valley I went, the Waitotara to be precise.


    Again, a chance meeting by the side of the road led to a yarn and some exploratory and quite intense questioning by the cockie, sorting me out from the scumbags he was. But he liked the look of me and offered basic but free accommodation and a shot, this time full on proper goat control. I'll leave the location vague, its right there for you to go find if you want, they're good folk but be sure that you need to make the right impression. But in a matter of minutes, trust and confidence having been established, we were off for a quick reconnaissance of the property and the places the station owner wanted goats removed.


    The next 2½ days was intense. I had ammo for the Creedmoor, .223, .243 and the .308. I had to be careful to select the right rifle for each location. I went hard first with the Creedmoor, shooting goats out of the "regeneration" block across the gully where the manuka is being replanted for honey. Picking them off at 300-500m was pretty straightforward. I had to be careful to observe the fence lines to ensure I wasn't removing goats out of the top paddocks, which were open and easy to muster up a good mob of goats to truck out. I finished the whole box of 100 reloads.








    I walked along the streams and sniped goats in amongst the trees with the .223.





    Then I took the truck up the main track and shot goats out of the paddocks with whatever rifle was best suited to the range. Eventually the .223 was out of ammo too, so it was over to my trusty .243.





    These ones I just couldn't bring myself to shoot. It's pretty brutal work, and when they are so bloody dopey that they just stand and watch you cross the paddock, it's hard to smash 'em. I had the Browning BAR ShortTrac with me at this stage, and after sitting and eating a sandwich, I walked back to the truck and put it away. I drove back to the station and said to the bloke, give me a young bloke on a bike and a couple of good dogs and let's see how many we can catch.





    Bloody glad we did that! We managed to get this mob into the yards next door to the hives, where they had mesh fencing. Chuffed with that effort I was. Annoyingly, I forgot to take a photo which pissed me off, a video of me huffing and puffing would have been even better.


    After two nights not being able to sleep too well due to possums crashing around on the roof (and me getting up 3 or 4 times to shoot the bastards), it was time to head off to town. Another brilliant experience, not hunting as we know it, more controlled slaughter, and a harsh reminder just how out of control the pests are on the margins of the Wanganui NP.


    After an entertaining session on the homebrew with my old mate, including the earthquake which gave the windows a fair rattle, I drove home to the Coromandel. Job done, a big blank spot on my map that I've been able to fill in with names and places, characters and memories. And bloody good characters they are too. New Zealand was made by men and women like the ones I meet on these trips, something the current mob of hipster townie Green Party eco-extremists would do well to remember as they sit on their couches, opining about the way people they've never met should live their lives. I really enjoying that road trip. Top draw Kiwi style. Without a single bloody Maui or Juicy Lucy motorhome in sight!
    hillclima, Norway, Tahr and 35 others like this.

  2. #2
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    Awesome looks like you made the most of it!!
    Its getting harder and harder to find private blocks to shoot goats on. Those that dont round them up for pet food etc want someone to come hunt very regularly.

    Thanks for your story.
    Its amazing what a opportunities can open up after a friendly chat.
    WallyR likes this.

  3. #3
    Huk
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    F##k what a blast of trip some very interesting people met good story thanks

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    That was a great read as was the trip for you. Good to see you reduced the goat population by a few for those cocky's that wanted them gone. Well written story.

  5. #5
    Member FatLabrador's Avatar
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    Good read thanks @Flyblown must taken a far bit of time to type that all up. Is that a jack on top of your bull bar?
    A wise man once said nothing at all

  6. #6
    .243 addict
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    Neat write up, cool pics, well worth the read and ogle. Thanks for making the time to share @Flyblown.

  7. #7
    Member Flyblown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FatLabrador View Post
    Good read thanks @Flyblown must taken a far bit of time to type that all up. Is that a jack on top of your bull bar?
    Yes its a Hi-Lift jack that I've used for years. Mostly used for getting others out of strife... scoff scoff.... its saved my bacon a couple of times that jack

    One thing I'd say is that I've been onto the cockie on the last property to get one of his young lads to go and collect up as many of the goats as possible as the flies will be a problem... the blowies are here and they'll be feeding hard on the dozens of goats dropped over the couple of days.

  8. #8
    Member hillclima's Avatar
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    Great story! I normally wouldn't read anything that long but went back and read it all, some real NZ characters and a well written story

    Sent from my SM-G960F using Tapatalk
    bigbear and dannyb like this.

  9. #9
    Member Gapped axe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hillclima View Post
    Great story! I normally wouldn't read anything that long but went back and read it all, some real NZ characters and a well written story

    Sent from my SM-G960F using Tapatalk
    exactly what he said, I'm in the Coromandel next week for a week
    "ars longa, vita brevis"

  10. #10
    Member tiroatedson's Avatar
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    That’s a pretty good yarn. I’m rural born n bred and understand the lingo completely but could never have a yarn the way you have described it in your story. I have my reasons but a bit of shy recluse myself.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  11. #11
    Member Mathias's Avatar
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    Epic story, like your writing style

  12. #12
    Member stug's Avatar
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    Nice, I've spent a bit of time in Ohura, one of my Dad's friends had a farm around there. Plenty of goats.

  13. #13
    Sending it Gibo's Avatar
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    Bloody cracker yarn @Flyblown!! One of the best stories I have read on here. What a trip eh

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    Awesome bro! reallly enjoyed that yarn!

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    Fuckin awesome story you deserve a few tuis after that mission

 

 

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