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Trout Poachers - You Buggers!: by Bill McLeod

23/07/2023 4:29 PM | Bob McMillan (Administrator)

Kelson said did I realize it was school holiday time. I thought this was completely random as we were hunting in the southern Urewera and being paid to do it. Why would school holidays affect us? He said Don’t you even know that, during school holidays, teachers, particularly young female teachers,  would tramp around Lake Waikaremoana. We devised a cunning plan that we would hunt our way over to Mangatoatoa bivvy then set out along a Venetian blind marked track shown going from Mangatoatoa to Waiopaoa hut at the southern end of the lake. We overnighted with Les and Terry then made our way out to Mangaone Station. This area was strictly forbidden to us, if we were seen on the station , we would be sacked.

 All our sleuthing skills at play, we crossed the back of the station careful not to leave any gumboot marks anywhere they could be seen. Found the start of the Venetian blind markers and followed the track. I could not understand where the track was heading. What was this bloke up to? Years later at a Deercullers reunion I met the bloke who had marked it. He said Charlie had given him a bucket of markers, a bag of clouts, a hammer and no map. Charlie told him the lake is over that way, mark a track. He didn’t have a clue where he was going and wandered around leaving a trail of markers till he eventually stumbled out on the Lake. The trail sure looked like it. I see that the trail is still marked on NMS260 Waikaremoana.

We made our way on the track and onto a leading ridge which we could see heading for the Lake . As we made our way down the ridge we could hear gunshots coming from the creek to our right. Quite a few of them. We decided to investigate and made our way down to the source of the shots. Keeping concealed we saw a bloke shooting at trout in the creek with a 22. What to do? Kelson said let’s put the shits up him. Sounded a good plan so we crept up to him and jumped out. He got a hell of a fright. We demanded to know what he thought he was doing. He said he was an Aussie tourist, that he got the gun in Rotorua and that he was trying to get some tea. We said Right, you're really in trouble, we will take you out to Aniwaniwa to the park headquarters. He came with us down the creek where we found the hut. Shared some of our food with him. I suggested quietly to him that he should wait till we were asleep then creep off. Wised Kelson to this. After tea we hopped into our sleeping bags and pretended to go to sleep. After some time we saw a furtive movement from the bloke as he super quietly packed up his gear and ghosted out of the hut. In the morning there was no sign of him. What he didn’t realize was that we were never going to go to Aniwaniwa as we  would be in deep shit ourselves for being off our block. Passed the day quietly then, sure enough,  a small party appeared. As promised by Kelson, the party consisted of school teachers. Nattered away to them. They asked what we were having for tea. I said venison. I pulled out a backsteak which unfortunately had some milk powder on it and looked revolting. Kelson said we would have some trout as well. They could see we had no trout and no fishing rods. We went back to the stream where we’d sprung the Aussie  where l was introduced to the gentle art of tickling trout. Soon we had our trout on the bank. Easy in a spawning creek.  Back to the hut where we prepared our trout entree and venison main. The teachers just had TVP which looked OK but tasted spack . They helped us eat our meal. An old bloke and two teenagers turned up. He was carrying a bow and proceeded to tell us what a crash hot hunter he was. He was full of it. The teachers headed out first thing which just left the bowhunter and the youngsters. I was curious about how effective a bow would be, seemed a heck of a lot of trouble to me. He had loudly proclaimed that he was such a good hunter that it wasn’t fair for him to use a rifle. I asked him what he could hit with his bow. I found a grocery box in the hut so I propped it up against a bush. I asked him to show us what he could do with the bow. At about 30 yards he clean missed the box a number of times. Didn’t hit it once.  I asked if I could have a go and I hit the box. Kelson did likewise. The deer were in no danger from him. I had a very dim view of bow hunters. 

We made our way back along a different track which petered out but from the top of the range I was in familiar country so we made it back to our bivvy.

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