I joined the North Auckland branch of NZDeerstalkers Association as a youngster. Enjoyed the range shooting at Coatsville, the meetings in the Riverhead hall, and the party hunts. Then the breakthrough. The club was invited to do wallaby control work on Kawau island. A group of about eight shooters would travel by charter boat from Sandspit to Bon Accord harbour for the weekend. The wallabies, mainly parma or dama, would be found in sparse undergrowth under the high manuka and kanuka canopy. Hunting them was by sneaking quietly through the bush or sometimes along bulldozed tracks. Shotguns only were permitted, we found shot size 2 or 3 was most effective. Most shots were around 25 to 30 yards, 40 yards was becoming really marginal. I found it was worthwhile carrying a fly camp over to the east coast where there were more open clearings among the tea tree. We only hunted in daylight hours.
I got a job as foreman for the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Board on Motutapu Island. Did some live trapping of wallabies for an exporter of live wallabies. He wasn’t allowed on the island so the board asked me to do the live capture. Then he would pick them up on his boat. Also had to shoot them on Motutapu, mainly used my 222. Then had to do some covert “lawnmower” control shooting on Mansion house lawn. Spotlight and 22. Had a real lesson on safe backgrounds one night. Got thoroughly familiar with the grounds during my normal day job so had fields of fire sorted for night shooting. Shot one toward the end of a significant hedge. Then thought I wonder. Went around the other side of the hedge to where the islands phone building was located. Searched the wall facing the hedge and found the 22 bullet lodged in one of the weather boards at about ankle height. It had gone through the wallaby, through the hedge and buried flush with the surface of the board. It’s probably still there.
Saw a heap of dama wallabies at Lake Okataina while staying there for Department training courses but, while it was permissible, I had no great desire to shoot any.
Arnold, Terry, Max and I formed a team and entered the Great Easter Bunny hunt at Alexandra. Had a great time, met some really nice locals, and shot a lot of rabbits. Terry’s nephew arranged permission to hunt on a property at Hakataramea for wallabies on the way home. What a blast. We lined up in the approved wallaby drive line and started walking through the tussock. Most of the drivers had rifles which I thought a bit odd but the locals didn’t bat an eye. A few wallabies fled in front of the line followed by a few bullets. No casualties. One came bouncing out in front of me and headed directly away from me. There was no one in front of me so I took a shot. Bowled it in mid bounce. Talk about delighted. The 223 bolt gun worked fine. There were not too many more in that particular drive so the local organizer assigned a couple of us to snipe a long gully. Got some then the real fun started. Found a patch of matagouri with a heap of wallabies in it. A driver or two worked their way down one ridge which forced some animals to bolt out near the bottom. I stationed myself to cover the escape route but not endanger the drivers. It was running shooting at its best. Not every shot connected of course but a good number did and the results were spectacular. A brilliant afternoon.
The next try was on our way back from thar hunting near Mount Cook. Andy, Ian and I had been very successful on the thar so we drove to Burkes Pass, then over the Hakataramea Pass to an area of DoC land near the top of the Hakataramea. Crossed the river then hunted near the boundary of the station. Saw a number of wallabies bouncing around in front of us. I was lagging well behind when l got my first chance. Standing in thick matagouri with no chance of a rest with the wallaby crouching under the scrub near a little watercourse about 150 yards away. All you can do is try your best. The shot looked good so I went for a look. Delighted to find the wallaby. The next chance I got was at a wallaby bouncing down a spur. Didn’t even look like hitting it. The 270 magnum wasn’t as user friendly as the 223 for this kind of work. I separated from Andy and Ian and got several more chances. The animals were all at long ranges but standing still. Because of the thick scrub I had to take most shots from the standing position so full concentration was necessary to get hits but Bennetts are a pretty large wallaby. Each hit was a real achievement. Re-joined Andy and Ian. We were making our way out when a wallaby bounced out in front of us. We watched it as it scooted across the next gully face. We saw it stop in the little track it was using. Ian said he would give it a go. At a significant distance and from the standing unsupported position with his 708. At the shot the wallaby disappeared. Ian said he thought he’d got it. He was so convinced he went to check. It was a long way for him to scramble over to it. We could see the happiness on his face when he held it up. Mission accomplished.