Yesterday started off fine, then the curse of a bad day set in good and proper. The list of aggravating experiences grew as the afternoon rolled on, so I decided a few hours after dinner would be well spent raoming the shoreline of Lake Burrumbeet hunting rabbits. I left my problems behind they would be there when I returned (yes I suffer from 'hunters escapism'). I took my normal route out there but soon discovered the dirt access road been not only completley washed away from the recent downpoar but an entire section of the road had tuned into a small lake. The Jeep was parked in a pine forest nearby and I continued on foot. The last week of rain has brought flooding to most the the eastern seaboard of Australia. The excess water had inundated rabbit burrows left right and centre and there was plenty of evidence of fresh diggings, an obvious effort to find safe shelter from the wild weather and the ever constant threat from predators.
As I continued on I noticed a large grey hawk rise from the bracken fern and fly off, startled. There is usually one reason why a bird of prey would spend time on the ground and thats for food, so I went over to investigate. Low and behold only metres from where the hawk flew off was a nice white tail, subtly hidden in the braken, eyes staring in my direction, motionless and convincing me of it's stupididtty. I flicked the saftey off, mounted the .22 magnum on the support rod, lined it up in the scope with the grace and lightness of an pre-pubecet Olympic gymnist....still no moevement from the rabbit. A clean shot, and down it went. I never did find what the hawk was eating so I continued heading south along the Lake which only a year ago was bone dry and now it's as fearce as the ocean when the wind gets up, waves lapping over the tops of trees that once marked the edge of the lake.
Light rain and that strong cold south westerly wind off the lake made the hunt challenging, but conditions aside I managed another 3 rabbits cleanly dispatched. Two rather small for the pot the last a decent size. The smaller ones I put down to pest animal control (rabbits being an introduced animal to Australia and classified as a pest). I finished up the night with an hour long hike back to the Jeep, bunnies jumping out from brushes, tonight was thier lucky night, I had my quota. No need to waste a few rounds just because I can, I believe in taking just what you need, leave the rest for next time or someone else. While I'm on the soap box, I'm really struggling with the Anti-duck shooting movement in Australia. Their arguement has some flaws. If they are concerned with the killing of native ducks, then what about native fish, native mammels (ie Kangaroo a lean meat and the most natuarally sustainable meat supply in Australia). What about the bad practices of primary produce (eg Battery hens, transportation of live stock OS). What about loss of natural habitat for broad acre farming, and the millions of litres of harmful chemicals used for vegetable and grain crops that inevitably makes it's way into the food chain of both vertebrate and invertabrate species. There are bigger picture problems that need to be addressed that are actually problems. The waterfowl population is the best it's been in years, thats based on plenty of visits to rivers and lakes in Western Victoria and not relying on statistics taken from the one study of one location. Are we as a 'civilised' society going to lose all conection with the reality of the natural world because we follow the mandate of political correctness? My preference is for a lifetime of learning how to grow my own produce and take what I need from the wild. Yes it is 2011 and we have supermarkets, but unless we maintain the link to what is real and what is the pleasent illusion of a domesticed civilisation created by profitering shareholding companies then what of our future. How can you respect nature if you don't understand it?
These rabbits will make a lovely Catalan Rabbit stew with home pickled olives, Chorizo, Cinnamon and plenty of Paprika for our guest coming from Sydney on the weekend.
NB: Sorry about the pic of cute rabbits but they lived a happy life, much better than many farmed meats that you can pick up at the supermarket and not think twice about how they where raised and 'processed'.