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KATHERINE NT KATHERINE NT

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					KATHERINE NT
                                               Graham Eames




    t looked like the Army Reserve had been    For me, it was my fourth trip in seven weeks.      a fair bit of irrigation in the area. Most of it

I   mobilized and told to bring their guns
    with them. I wasn’t at Puckapunyl or any
other Army base though; I was standing in
                                               This time I had two gun cases with me. The
                                               reason for the two cases was that I was not
                                               just going to hunt geese this time but also
                                                                                                  is from underground water. There were
                                                                                                  mango farms, corn crops, peanuts, pasture
                                                                                                  and many other types of irrigated agriculture
the check-in queue at Tullamarine airport.     pigs, scrub bulls and hopefully, water             in the district.
Virgin, Jetstar and Qantas all had people in   buffalo. In one case was my shotgun, in the
                                                                                                  On touring a property late that afternoon
with gun cases checking in. They were all      other my rifle.
                                                                                                  where we were to pass shoot geese I was
going to the same place. Darwin!
                                               Paul Drennan, from Mornington, who I have          amazed at the number of brolgas seen on
With the demise of the rice industry in NSW    know for many years from clay target               bare paddocks. To see two, three or four
due to the drought and after having been       shooting, has set up a hunting guiding             brolgas in Victoria is a wonderful sight but
through 2007 without a duck season,            business with his friend Athol Schmidt from        to see two, three or four hundred of them all
Victorians were packing their bags and         Katherine. They had asked me to come north         together in one place was an amazing sight!
heading north for the Magpie geese of the      and see their operation. Now I am a bird
                                                                                                  The geese were flighting from a wetland
Northern Territory.                            hunter first and foremost but I have been
                                                                                                  some five kilometers away into a harvested
                                               known to chuck a pill down a rifled barrel
Many knew each other and discussed where                                                          peanut field. Once they began flying we
                                               every now and then.
they were going. For some it was their first                                                      positioned ourselves in the grass along a
trip to the NT, for others it was a return     “You can take a buff, a scrubbie and as many       fence and waited for them to come over top.
journey that has become an annual event.       pigs as you want” said Paul. “Thanks mate,
                                                                                                  We were three hundred metres from the field
                                               that’s great” I said, “but are there any geese
                                                                                                  where they were landing and so when they
                                               or ducks?” He replied with a grin that I could
     Brolgas everywhere!                                                                          came over the fence they were already on
                                               see through the telephone, “Thousands and
                                                                                                  their gliding approach and dropping altitude.
                                               thousands of them” he replied. It was the
                                               second “thousands” that got me. “Okay, I’m         Because we were hunting on private
                                               in” I said.                                        property and nowhere near a wetland we
                                                                                                  were able to use lead shot. I had some 34g
                                               Paul and Athol met me at Darwin airport. It
                                                                                                  Winchester Bushmen in No.2 lead.
                                               was a red-eye flight as nearly all Darwin
                                               flights are these days. Landing at 1.30am,         The geese passed over at between 25 and 45
                                               get off the plane, wait for luggage and then       metres. I had to move twice as most were
                                               queue up again to pick up the guns. It was         passing further down the fence from me.
                                               nearly 3am when we checked into our
                                                                                                  The fence was electrified with barbed wire
                                               accommodation in Darwin. At 11am we set
                                                                                                  on top so I let the geese pass over me before
                                               off for Katherine.
                                                                                                  firing. That way they all landed on my side.
                                               Now Katherine isn’t the type of place you          They just seemed to keep coming in never
                                               would expect to find lots of geese or ducks        ending lines and spiraled down into the
                                               but they were there. It turned out that there is   peanut crop.


50       Feathers & Fur                                                                                                   Feb/Mar/Apr 2008
Naturally not all of them passed over me but
I made good of the opportunities I got from
the ones that did. My seven bird bag was
filled in twenty minutes and I sat and
watched where they were all going.
Tomorrow, we would hunt that peanut field.
Back at the motel we all jumped into the
pool and had a cold can. Katherine is hot and
that day it had reached 42°C. The plan was
to hunt early in the morning. A before dawn
start because it was going to be hotter!
The peanut crop was right up against a
standing corn field and the geese were right
on the edge of the corn. Some had even
walked into the corn and pulled down some
cobs and were feeding on them.
                                                  The temperature had hit 43°C and by 4pm it         Athol said that they had only been on this
We had parked the cars and arrived at our         was time to check a waterhole for buffalo.         waterhole for a week. This was the first time
chosen positions with fifteen minutes to          There was one unusual bull that had four           they would be hunted. They were all Grass
spare. It wasn’t hot but surprisingly pleasant.   white socks and a blaze on his forehead. He        Whistling ducks and were damn near tame.
By stepping three rows into the corn we           didn’t have a huge set of horns Athol said         We walked to within sixty metres of the
were all perfectly hidden and camouflaged.        but they were respectable. It was his unusual      waterhole’s edge. I took a heap of photos
When the geese came ten minutes later, it         colouring that would make him a fine and           and then loaded the shotgun. “Right oh, let’s
was perfect. It went so well that our hunt was    worthwhile trophy.                                 play” I said. With Paul ready on the watch, I
over in thirty minutes and we were packing                                                           fired two shots into the air.
our gear back into the truck.                     At the waterhole, several good buffalo bulls
                                                  and a lot of cows were present but not our         The banks and the water burst into flapping
This was just pass shooting geese. We never       white socked bull. Athol drove to two other        wings and the noise of 1500 ducks whistling
had a single decoy out. Athol and Paul know       likely places and we stalked in to find            was incredible. They wheeled around and
exactly where to stand on this property. They     several buffalo but again, not our bull.           came over us. The Miroku barked twice and
have some Last Look Decoys coming from                                                               I reloaded and fired again. The sky was full
the USA for next season and will be able to       Paul was the gate opener and with 43°C
                                                                                                     of ducks. I reloaded and fired again and
hunt clients over decoy spreads. That will        outside I couldn’t believe he wasn’t wearing
                                                                                                     again and again. When duck number seven
put even more birds into gun range. All three     a hat. “Left it at the motel” he said.
                                                                                                     fell I called “Time!” and Paul replied “46
of us were into the motel pool before 8am in      “Sunstroke coming up for you” I replied.
                                                                                                     seconds”. That was the fastest bag limit ever
the morning.                                      Still, he only had to get out every now and
                                                  then. Some gates were twenty kilometers
After a late breakfast we drove out of            apart. It was a typical NT cattle station.
Katherine to go pig hunting at 10 o’clock. It     Bloody huge! One boundary fence ran for 80
was 38°C and climbing. Athol has a novel          kilometres and another for over 90 kms.
way of hunting pigs for clients who don’t
like or can’t walk around too much in this        Eventually at 6pm we started back for
sort of heat.                                     Katherine. We were all back in the pool
                                                  again by 8pm with a well deserved cool
We were hunting a large cattle property. He       drink. It had been a big day; a bag of geese,
drives around and checks all the tanks and        a swag of pigs (including two very big
bores. Wherever there is a slight overflow        boars) and plenty of buffalo seen.
the pigs will be wallowing in the mud or
sleeping under a tree nearby. He also checks      Tomorrow would be a sleep in and then go
dead stock where the pigs will have been          pig and buffalo hunting. There is no point in
feeding on the carcasses. This was easy           leaving early, the later we leave, the hotter it
hunting! The air conditioner on the Pajero        gets and the more likely the animals are to be
was on at full bore and there was an ample        all congregated around the waterholes.
supply of cold drinks on board.                   The shotgun was thrown in this morning.
We just drove around the station until we         Athol said that one of the waterholes we
came to a bore and then idled in until we saw     were to check had hundreds of ducks on it.
where the pigs were laying.                       “Hundreds?” I queried. “Mate, wait until
                                                  you see it” he laughed. Paul joined in the
Once we found them, it was time to get out        joke and said “You’ll have your bag in three
of the car for the stalk. Nearly every tank had   minutes or less”.
one or more pigs laying around them. Some
had a dozen or more.                              After shooting two big sows off a tank
                                                  overflow we approached the waterhole
I could have used the shotgun but I wanted        where the ducks were alleged to be. Athol
to make sure I was on target with the 30.06       drove to within a hundred metres of the edge
before tackling a buffalo or scrub bull. Most     and we were in full view of the ducks.
of the pigs were taken under fifty metres
with the first shot sometimes at ten metres       There were over a thousand of them there,
after a careful stalk.                            maybe fifteen hundred. “Told you there
                                                  were hundreds” said Athol with a huge grin.
By 3pm the tally was 11 pigs and the longest      They lined the banks, perched on every stick
walk from the air conditioned vehicle had         and log and floated in rafts on the water.
been a hundred metres.                            They hadn’t moved!

Feb/Mar/Apr 2008                                                                                                         Feathers & Fur       51
except for the year Victoria had a bag limit
of two.                                                                                Four little piggies that won’t
                                                                                       be going to market any more.
The ducks wouldn’t leave. We all stood
there watching the amazing sight of all these
birds wheeling around and then pitching into
the middle of the waterhole.
Truly incredible! I fired off over a hundred
photos on the digital camera before the
blaring sun told us to get back into the air
conditioned car. The seven ducks went into
the esky in the back and three cold drinks
came out. It was time to look for my buffalo
and dong some more pigs.
Two other waterholes revealed no buffalo
but another seven pigs bit the dust to my
30.06 Remington Mountain rifle. At another
large waterhole there were several buffalo
on the edge and another six swimming in the
water. The binoculars revealed one with a           Woods” referring to the bullet’s controlled     walking very slowly and we were gaining
blaze on his head. It was our boy!                  expansion capabilities. These big water         ground and shortening the distance between
                                                    buffalo bulls are very wary and can be          us and them.
Athol quickly backed away from the hole
                                                    dangerous if they take a dislike to you. The
and said we would have to get around the                                                            A hundred metres from the white socked
                                                    stalk began!
other side because of the wind. To get there                                                        bull, two pigs jumped from cover and began
while staying out of their sight and hearing        Upon getting to within sight of the waterhole   squealing as they ran away. This alerted the
was about four kilometers by car. It took us        there was nothing there. They had all gone.     bull to our possible presence and he became
nearly twenty minutes by the time we pulled         We were just about to kick ourselves when       anxious and restless.
up and got out again.                               Athol saw movement in the thick trees and
                                                                                                    I managed to close another twenty metres
                                                    said “there they are, quick follow me”.
The 150 grain bullets I had been using for                                                          before Athol said “take the shot, he is going
the pigs were replaced in the magazine with         The buffalo were walking through the scrub      to run”. Then he added “No matter what the
220 grain Remington Express Core-Lokt               and we were making a bee-line to get in         result of the hit, pour another into him or we
shells. The slogan on the side of the packet        front of them. Luckily we were down wind        will never find him in this stuff”. Resting the
said “The Deadliest Mushroom in the                 and they had not detected us. They were         rifle against a small tree I planted the




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Feb/Mar/Apr 2008                                                                                                         Feathers & Fur        53
crosshairs for a perfect heart
lung shot and let her rip. We
heard the bullet hit slightly
high and the buffalo didn’t
even falter or shudder, he
just broke into a trot.
Chambering another round
into the rifle I sent another
220 grain pill towards him
trying to break the shoulder
but it hit in nearly the same
spot. He now broke into a
gallop. So did Athol!
Flicking off his thongs and
un-shouldering his .338
Winchester Magnum, Athol
broke into a full blown
sprint. There was no way I
could keep up with a QRF of
that speed. Luckily, the
buffalo had stopped. The Even though a bird hunter first and foremost, Graham couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bag a buffalo.
two heart lung shots had
worked and blood was coming from his nose   me two more shots before he went down   made of concrete sand bags. I had my
and mouth. He could run no further. It took though. It was like shooting a mountain Asiatic water buffalo!
                                                                                                                 After catching our breath and sculling
                                                                                                                 bottles of cold water we took our cameras
                                                                                                                 out. He was a beauty! Four socks, a white
                                                                                                                 blaze and a white underbelly. A very strange
                                                                                                                 animal indeed! The first two bullets were
                                                                                                                 found embedded against the hide on the far
                                                                                                                 side from where they went in. Neither of
                                                                                                                 them had even touched a rib. They were
                                                                                                                 perfect mushrooms.
                                                                                                                 My wife Julie had told me that I was not
                                                                                                                 allowed to have a full body mount or even a
   YOU WILL LEARN:                                                                                               shoulder mount of a buffalo in the house.
   Everything you need to know to find and hunt                                                                  “There was no room” she said, so we took
   deer legally, successfully and safely. Instruction is
                                                                                                                 the horns and skin strip between them and
   provided by the very best and most experienced
   deerhunters in Australia. We can’t do everything                                                              will have them mounted on a shield. Straight
   for you, but after twenty-one years of presenting                                                             to the pool room with that!
   this course, we will give you a very, very good         HUNTER EDUCATION COURSE: COST
   start. For those who are already hunting deer,          ADA members                            $268.00        Athol and Paul set about butchering the
   there is also much to learn.                            Non-members                            $298.00        beast in the stinking heat. They would come
                                                           Junior package                         $335.00        back that night with a trailer and get all the
   WHERE?                                                  (1 adult, 1 minor 13-18 years)
   At the ADA Hunter Education Course at RAWSON                                                                  meat for their dogs. Again, we were back in
   in the heart of Victoria’s best deer country.           Bookings may be made on a $50.00 deposit.             the pool by 7pm, cold can in hand and
                                                           A $20.00 cancellation fee applies.
   COST:                                                                                                         reliving the great day’s hunt. Tomorrow I
   The committee, lecturers and helpers provide their      WE WELCOME YOUR ENQUIRIES                             had to return to Darwin and go home.
   services free of charge and attendance fees are set     Full details are available from:
   at break-even point on average attendance. The          Phone:           David Garcia (03) 5622 2733          It had been a great few days in Katherine,
   cost includes accommodation and meals at the            Email:           hec.vic@austdeer.com.au              one of the most unlikely places I would have
   RAWSON VILLAGE CONFERENCE CENTRE, and                                    www.austdeer.com.au
   materials provided for the course, including a          Bookings:        PO Box 843, Warragul, Vic. 3820
                                                                                                                 thought of bird hunting. For southern bird
   comprehensive Course Manual and booklet.                                                                      hunters that would like to experience the
                                                                  Put yourself in the picture                    Northern Territory and try some pig, bull or
                                                                                                                 buffalo hunting as well as geese and ducks,
                                                                   at the acclaimed Victorian
                                                                                                                 then Athol and Paul are the men to call.
                                                                       Deerhunter Education
                                                                          Course at RAWSON                       They also have areas on the Daly River out
                                                                                                                 of Darwin for some great goose and duck
                                                                     in the heart of Victoria’s                  hunting. They can do combo hunts for
                                                                            best deer country                    everything or just species specific hunts.
                                                                         4th-6th July 2008                       With no guarantee of duck seasons in the
                                                                                                                 southern states again in 2008 and the chance
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                                                                                                                 trip at that time of year to the Top End
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                                                                                                                 to try something different.
                                                                                                                 Paul Drennan can be contacted at NT
                                                                                                                 Buffalo & Pig Safaris on 0447 564 483.
                                                                                                                 See ad in directory block, page 62.

54         Feathers & Fur                                                                                                               Feb/Mar/Apr 2008

				
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