The Hammer of Death to invasive species in New Zealand, The Admiral.
Day Four: “R & R”* - It’s not what you think.
Day Four: “R & R”* - It’s not what you think.
R&R. No, R &R doesn’t not stand for “rest and relaxation” but for Rufus and Radar, Dave’s German Short Hair pointers who we’d come to see “do their stuff”. Rufus is in the twilight of his days being 11.5 years old and very grey in the muzzle like me while Radar is a two year old “up and comer.” The hunt was ostensibly for European Hare (much bigger than the typical NZ rabbit) but the real purpose was to watch the dogs. We drove out to some hilly pastures and the dogs began to show their stuff. One would stay at heel while the other worked the pasture in front of us. Simply put, they (and Dave) were truly remarkable. The working dog would stay out in front while always working into the wind and never get out of sight of Dave for more than a moment while always kept an eye on him. If we stopped walking, the working dog would return and as soon as we’d walk, the dog would go out front again. If Dave moved in a different direction or even turned left or right, the dog would move over to the direction Dave was looking at. And all of this was done with no shouting, calling etc. The only device Dave had was a quiet whistle he would use if he wanted the dog(s) to return right away. Frankly, the only thing the dogs didn’t do was drive the car and take out the trash! And it is a good thing too for otherwise the Admiral would have kicked me out and taken one of them home in my place.
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Rufus & Radar ready to go
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After R & R had pointed a couple of Pukekos, a real cool looking bird which we were not hunting - Dave saw a rabbit (not a hare) dash toward some trees. Dave had Rufus work down that way and soon enough, he was on point. I closed my Winchester O/U shotgun and moved up to Rufus as a rabbit burst out zig-zagging away. I drew a bead in its direction and pulled the trigger and Nothing... Damn, safety on and rabbit gone.
We sat down there in the shade to have rest and give the dogs a drink. As we are chatting away, Dave turns around and points out that Radar is hard on point 15 feet behind. We assume he is on the smell of the rabbit we’d just jumped. We watch and he is not moving so I figure to get some good pictures. I snap Radar on point from various directions and get Gaye to pose with her shotgun at several angles and still Radar ain’t moving.
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Then Dave walks up to the dog’s nose and pokes the ground with his stick to show the dog that there is nothing there. Jokes on us – a young Pukeko comes bolting out and runs away. Radar being very well-trained, does not chase it. Dave tells us Radar is “not happy with us” – he’s gone on point and we’d ignored him, then we diddle around and finally push out a bird that we simply watch. Gaye and I offer our apologies to Radar and move on.
A short time later we see an adult Pukeko fly off some 40 yards up hill from us and as we reach the area, Rufus goes on point. Again, we figure it is the bird that just flew off but Rufus is having none of that. He keeps pointing at a small tuft of grass even though Dave jabs his stick on multiple times and nothing comes out. Finally Rufus reaches in gently and pulls out the “big foot” of a young Pukeko. I reach down and lift up a scrawny thing that is all feet. We take a couple of snaps and tuck the little fella back in the grass and move on. Dave tells us that it was most unusual to find such a young bird this time of year – must have come from a very late clutch/hatching but it will do fine if some predator doesn’t get it.
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Young Pukeko = All feet
Then as we enter the next field, Rufus goes on point in front and in an instant, a hare darts across from us in the tall grass. I throw up my shotgun, swing at the moving head which is all I can see and pull the trigger. BAM – at least the safety was off. The Hare disappears – did I hit it or did it simply dart off? We search the area and see no sign but moments later, up comes Rufus with the Hare gently in his mouth. Good job Rufus – and there isn’t a tooth mark on the animal, he held it most carefully. Now that is a well-trained dog! We take the necessary “glory shots” as this is the first European hare I’d ever shot. And a freakin’ lucky shot at that. But I’ll never admit it to Dave. The size of the hare compared to the shotgun gives an idea as to how big that animal was.
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After getting back to the truck, Dave cleaned the hare whose flesh was red, like venison, nothing like pale rabbit meat. Apparently, these European Hares are a prize delicacy so it will not go to waste. We head home singing the praises of R &R (and Dave of course) after 4 really fun days of hunting and fishing.
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* NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED UNNECESSARILY IN THE TELLING OF THIS TALE BUT THE TRUTH TOOK A BEATING.
SURPRISE FOR US
When we got home to Santa Monica, we found a note pinned to our door from The Admiral's Arch Enemy. Cheeky bugger~! Still it is nice to be home.View attachment 84734