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Swan and Shelduck hunting! (NZ)


Houseplant
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In February every year, we have a special one week open season on black swans and shelducks. For the feint hearted, the purpose of this exercise is pest control, but it is also a lot of fun. Blacks swans are an import from Australia and eat grass intended for livestock. Similarly, shelducks, or more precisely paradise shelducks eat crops as well as grass and create a lot of mess. Both species are unpopular with farmers, but to preserve numbers for sporting purposes, there is a limit of 20 birds of each species per day per person. 

I have a friend, Paul who is keen to get in to duck hunting and we decided to visit a local spot on public land where he had seen good numbers of birds. Not sure I really understand the complexities of land access in this case. The land is publicly owned (by council I presume), it is leased to a farmer who in turn grants hunting rights to Fish & Game, a quasi-governmental organisation which manages game bird and freshwater fishing in New Zealand. If you are a Fish & Game member, then you have access to the land. Farmer approval for individuals is preferable, but not essential it seems.

Anyway, the land in question is a swamp. It may not look like it in the photo, but floods on a regular basis. Many rivers and storm ditches cross the land making it attractive to waterfowl. We visited the night before to get a feeling for the area.

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We set off the next day in darkness and setup next to some scrubby bush, close to the river, putting a dozen decoys out. We didn't see any birds, but fully expected some to show up once the shooting started in surrounding areas. We waited and waited, but nothing. In the meantime, a farm just to the north of us sounded like a war zone. They must have shot tens if not hundreds of birds. Feeling very disappointed, we started to think about packing up. Moments later, two huge birds came in low towards our decoys. Swans! I offered Paul the first shot which he took successfully and I took the second. 3 inch #2 steel cartridges had no problem bringing the big birds down. Unfortunately, Paul's bird ended up in the river. This is where it got interesting...

He had no hesitation in stripping off and jumping in to the muddy, fast flowing, monster eel-infested waterway to retrieve his bird!

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Next photo was for pure comic effect, the redneckedness amused us. Swan, near-naked hunter and pump action shotgun. We don't expect to make the cover of the Shooting Times!

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More traditional...

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Happy to have bagged the swans, we packed up and headed back to Paul's place for a delicious meal of wild goat curry. We made our plans for the next day. Given the few birds on public land, we decided to go to a remote farm that I have access to in the far north of the country. We travelled up that night and camped out. I have seen so many shelducks in this location in the past, that I guaranteed Paul his first duck. Was this a mistake?

Again we set up in darkness and were ready for first light, but no ducks! Where were they? We waited and eventually a few birds turned up. They came to the decoys nicely and Paul managed to bag his first shelduck. He was pleased as punch! 

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I did my bit too and we managed four birds in total before packing up and starting the long drive south.

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Great fun, but not the huge numbers of birds I was expecting. So what happened? By chance, we bumped in to a farm hand as we were leaving the property. Turns out he had been long range "culling" the shelducks with a .30-06 for several weeks. Not what I wanted to hear and totally illegal, both in terms of season and the type of firearm used, but this is New Zealand. I shrugged my shoulders and wished him a good day. 

 

 

 

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45 minutes ago, Houseplant said:

"culling" the shelducks with a .30-06 for several weeks. Not what I wanted to hear and totally illegal

30-06 is ok if you go for head shots and keep the range less than 100 yards, anything over that is a struggle with such a heavily feathered duck 👍

46 minutes ago, Houseplant said:

Next photo was for pure comic effect, the redneckedness amused us. Swan, near-naked hunter and pump action shotgun. We don't expect to make the cover of the Shooting Times!

Great to read about shooting in different lands, I was going to state my thanks for sharing but considering that white wife beater he is wearing is stained onto my retinas I rather wish you hadn’t 🤣

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52 minutes ago, WalkedUp said:

Great to read about shooting in different lands, I was going to state my thanks for sharing but considering that white wife beater he is wearing is stained onto my retinas I rather wish you hadn’t 🤣

Sorry about that. I've never understood the the Australasian love of wife beaters given the climate!

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39 minutes ago, mel b3 said:

You enjoy some brilliant sport over there.  I have to ask . What does Swan taste like ?.

I recon you could ask the same question to some of the members over here to give you an answer to your question , and I don't mean the Eastern Europeans :lol:

I must admit our Swans look a bit more sedately than those big ole black ones , mind you they would look the same when all the cloths are off and ready for the oven .

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6 minutes ago, marsh man said:

I recon you could ask the same question to some of the members over here to give you an answer to your question , and I don't mean the Eastern Europeans :lol:

I must admit our Swans look a bit more sedately than those big ole black ones , mind you they would look the same when all the cloths are off and ready for the oven .

I know , but I didn't like to ask on an open forum 😄.

If anyone knows what Swan tastes like , please feel free to drop me a pm 😁.

44 minutes ago, Houseplant said:

Don't know yet. It's all destined for salami. 

I'm really liking the idea of that 👍.

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AGAIN you take me back 30 years.  Brilliant write up again.  I have distant relatives in North Island and on our visit back in 1991 I made a visit to one of them as a bit of a surprise visit, I had not seen Kevin for over 30 years when he visited my parents. . His imediate reaction was, "Do you shoot ?"  Fancy a crack at some swans? "   Within the hour we where clinging on to the rear mounted transport box on his tractor heading up into the hills. Eventually arrived at a pond, about 1/2 an acre tucked in a small valley. As the light started to fade I saw dark shapes appearing in the sky coming down the valley.... a bit like those US bombers going into Fairford recently.  " Shoot, shoot"  came out of the darkness and I dropped the first one but the second went set wings down the valley, followed by Kevin. After about 15 mins he returned carrying my second black swan.  Memories memories, please keep them coming. 

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8 hours ago, mel b3 said:

I know , but I didn't like to ask on an open forum 😄.

If anyone knows what Swan tastes like , please feel free to drop me a pm 😁.

 

No need to drop you a pm , In Norfolk 60 odd years ago we had some medieval laws that we believed were still in order when the first Swan ( as there was more than one ) came on the menu , we always thought that if you went undetected for 101 days then you were a free man , or boy in my case 😉

In the late 50s we were still suffering the effects of the 1953 floods as we were flooded out with five foot of water , times were hard although I could never remember going hungry , a lot of my relations were in the fishing industry and in the Winter we lived off fish, these were mainly Herring , Bloaters , Kippers , Whiting off the drifters and Plaice and Cod off the trawlers .

We also had the odd wild duck and goose as we had some wild fowlers lived nearby , it was while talking to them that eating a Swan was mentioned and a young one was the best , so being handy with a catapult and knowing where some family parties were in the local dykes  it didn't take long to remove one from the local population.

My grandfather lived in the same road as us and before he retired he was a ships cook on one of the Yarmouth drifters , so he was ideal and knew how to roast it , after it was plucked and prepared with whatever he stuffed it with it was time it went in his small gas oven , how long he cooked it for I can't tell yer but when we went up his for dinner it looked a treat and you would never know what it was if you didn't already know , we all got stuck into it and no one complained , within a short time the only thing left was the carcase and all the evidence was eaten and I believe before I grew up we might have had another , well I won't lie we did have another:lol:

Living right beside the marshes we were never short of eggs of some sort in the Spring , these were mainly Moorhen , Coot , Mallard and again the odd Swans egg , Moorhens and Coots were like a Bantams egg , Mallard were a bit richer and a Swans richer still , these would half fill a pan and would make a lovely omelette with a few bits and pieces mixed in , as I said at the beginning , we had very little in terms of pounds , shillings and pence , but as for food , I am sure we lived as well as anybody .:good:

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1 hour ago, marsh man said:

No need to drop you a pm , In Norfolk 60 odd years ago we had some medieval laws that we believed were still in order when the first Swan ( as there was more than one ) came on the menu , we always thought that if you went undetected for 101 days then you were a free man , or boy in my case 😉

In the late 50s we were still suffering the effects of the 1953 floods as we were flooded out with five foot of water , times were hard although I could never remember going hungry , a lot of my relations were in the fishing industry and in the Winter we lived off fish, these were mainly Herring , Bloaters , Kippers , Whiting off the drifters and Plaice and Cod off the trawlers .

We also had the odd wild duck and goose as we had some wild fowlers lived nearby , it was while talking to them that eating a Swan was mentioned and a young one was the best , so being handy with a catapult and knowing where some family parties were in the local dykes  it didn't take long to remove one from the local population.

My grandfather lived in the same road as us and before he retired he was a ships cook on one of the Yarmouth drifters , so he was ideal and knew how to roast it , after it was plucked and prepared with whatever he stuffed it with it was time it went in his small gas oven , how long he cooked it for I can't tell yer but when we went up his for dinner it looked a treat and you would never know what it was if you didn't already know , we all got stuck into it and no one complained , within a short time the only thing left was the carcase and all the evidence was eaten and I believe before I grew up we might have had another , well I won't lie we did have another

Living right beside the marshes we were never short of eggs of some sort in the Spring , these were mainly Moorhen , Coot , Mallard and again the odd Swans egg , Moorhens and Coots were like a Bantams egg , Mallard were a bit richer and a Swans richer still , these would half fill a pan and would make a lovely omelette with a few bits and pieces mixed in , as I said at the beginning , we had very little in terms of pounds , shillings and pence , but as for food , I am sure we lived as well as anybody .:good:

😄😄thankyou very much mm , a most interesting story 👍. I love hearing about times long past , and how different things were 👍.

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