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Day Three: The Admiral scourges the Aussie Invaders

asaxon

Well-known member
The Hammer of Death to invasive species in New Zealand.

Day Three: The Admiral scourges the Aussies*.




Possum hunting with a bonus
. Of all the hunting we’ve done in New Zealand, the Admiral’s favorite is spotlighting Bushy-tailed Possum’s at night. These nocturnal arboreal critters are currently the most problematic invasive species in New Zealand. There are an estimated 35 million of these bushy-tailed nasty Australian invaders, eating up the New Zealand forests and everything in them. The Admiral calls them “Wooly Tree Rats.” They are not like our North American possum but are a relative of the Kangaroo. In Australia they grow to 2 feet long with a 1.5 foot long tail and weighing 10 lbs. but in New Zealand, they definitely get much bigger - better food & climate. New Zealand’s Department of Conservation has been at war with them for decades.

We are at dinner with Dave and his wife at a restaurant in town prior to heading out at dark (about 9 pm) when there is a cloud burst so heavy that it causes as small stream to form across the front of the restaurant forcing us to flee the patio and go inside to have our dinner. It is not looking good for hunting later that night. But the weather in the Rotorua area is quite fickle and low and behold, in an hour it lets up. So we don our rain gear and off we go but for safety reasons, we will hunt a flat area of paddocks with surrounding trees with a better dirt track rather than try to drive the steep rough track up among trees on the ridges. So we load up with The Admiral and I standing in the bed of the truck. The admiral will shoot off the cab of the truck armed with a Savage 17 HMR fronted by a silencer (legal in NZ) and mounted a 3-9x scope. I have a powerful spotlight as does Dave who is driving.

View attachment 84722
The Admiral Ready to have a go at the possums.




We head off through the paddocks while searching the bordering trees for sets of shiny reflecting red eyes = possum – shoot to kill; green eyes = sheep – don’t fire. We initially spot several sets of red eyes in the trees but the animals are deep among the branches so it is very hard to actually keep the eyes in sight much less get a good shot given the light weight bullet of the 17 HMR which will deflect from even small twigs. When we do finally spot a possum clearly on a branch of a tree, the Admiral puts the cross hairs between the red eyes and fires. The eyes go out and we hear the “plop” as the wooly tree rat falls to the ground. One possum dead. The Admiral gives a wicked “cackle ” and breaks into an equally wicked smile. Boy, The Admiral does not like possums.
View attachment 84723
Bring on more possums...



By the end or an hour or so, the Admiral has shot at and dropped three possum and we must have spotted a half dozen that she couldn’t get a decent shot at.

After a half an hour hiatus in the truck due to hard rain, we don our rain gear and pick up the hunt again. Soon Dave sings out – “There’s a Wallaby.” I spot it slowly bouncing along on the track in front of us and the following ensued...

I whisper to the Admiral; “Shoot.


She replies; “Why?”


I now say in a louder voice; “SHOOT IT.

She replies, “It is a Wallaby.”

Now I shout; “SHOOT THE SUCKER!!! but with a different initial consonant.

I get in reply; “Shut up, I’m shooting here.”


She draws a bead on the bouncy thing and Pssst (sound of 17HMR with silencer).
After a few acrobatic agonal leaps, one dead Wallaby.
View attachment 84724

The confusion had been that The Admiral had forgotten that there were still invasive Wallabies in the local bush plus Dave hadn’t specifically said “shoot it”. While not nearly as destructive or numerous as the bushy-tailed possum, these small Wallabies are invasive pests definitely to be removed with extreme prejudice. And now The Admiral is extremely proud of her Wallaby. Wallabys are the national symbol of Australia, which making shooting one as close as you can get to legally shooting an Australian. Hee Hee...

Soon we see two more possums up a tree in an open area of pine trees. The Admiral nails a huge one but its tail wedges in branch so it just hangs there some 35 feet up. She drills the second and this one goes plop to the ground. We decide we are “done” but we want to recover the second possum for a photo op since we hadn’t bothered to try to recover the earlier ones as they were too deep in the wet bush. Dave then takes the 17 HMR and makes an amazing shot by aiming at and hitting the tiny the tip of the possum’s tail that is wedged in the branches. Plop; the huge possum two falls to earth.


OK, now it is Picture Time.
As we are getting set to pose, Dave tells me to hold the tail of one in my teeth. And being a trusting soul, I do so and he takes the picture. When The Admiral and Dave actually see the picture, they are grossed out – he tells me he said it as a joke. No sane Kiwi would put a possum tail in their mouth ever.

View attachment 84725
OMG, I now have Possum Mouth, BLEH!!!




When got home at midnight, The Admiral had a smile on her face that almost cracked it. Meanwhile I had a bar of soap in my mouth and a new nickname, “Old Possum Mouth.” I’ve been banished to sleep on the couch ever since.

View attachment 84726
OL' POSSUM MOUTH

*NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED UNNECESSARILY IN THE TELLING OF THIS TALE BUT THE TRUTH AND MY MOUTH SURE TOOK A BEATING.
 
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