The weather taunted me for most of the day, it kept sneaking in through the dusty blinds of my office window taunting me with the possibility of a good evening hunt. Every now and then my mind wondered out into another world distant from my 'real world' responsibilities. Out I ventured across paddocks, over fences and through thick bush, stalking for the little beasties and exploring new locations. Suddenly something would pull me back from the dream, a phone call, a knock on the door. That was it, I had to make the commitment that tonight a hunt was definite. Straight after dinner I prepared the tools of the trade and just I was packed I heard the rumble of Joel's V8 crawling down our street, there was no mistaking it was him. I had been given the word about a secret block of crown land south of town. It's always a gamble exploring a new spot with the the odds of coming home with meat decreased, but nothing ventured nothing gained. Joel and I packed up the Jeep hauled off full of optimism. The block was tricky to find and when we got amongst it, thigh high long grass lapped on our old denim jeans. This was snake country and snake weather. I'm forever grateful that I was introduced to high top Red Wing leather boots, a little extra confidence helps when your concentrating on the hunt and not the potential of reptiles in the grass.
We spot more than a few, fueling the notion that this site has potential. I offer the long shot magnum to Joel, I take the shotgun. It was time for Joel to try out my magnum. We try the split flank, I head towards the water and Joel follows the fence line. The rabbit we were initially tracking ducks away but Joel spots a white tail off to the west, crack.....it's down. "Thats shooting on the money now" he remarks after that last shot we went on was a disaster on my behalf. Or was it the scope? It didn't matter, we had a rabbit.
As per our hunting code, we swap back guns it was now my turn for the long shot. Around the dam we meander, leaves rustled in the breeze, Spinebills flutter in and out of the bushes and the odd waterfowl makes a ruckus. But alas not one rabbit. After a brisk hike through the long grass we arrive back at the Jeep, this spot was done for the night. Joel with one in the bag and not even firing a round. Now I was keener than ever to head off to the next sight. By now the light had dipped lower than we both expected, the change of the season was definitely in progress. I pushed that thought into the back of my mind as I turned the key, a 30 min drive would eat into hunting time, no time to dilly daly. Crossing town can always be a bit tricky and tonight I managed every set of red lights. By the time we arrived at Addington the visibility was poor and the temp was much cooler than down in the lower valley. We grabbed the guns not even bothering to wind up the windows. Up the hill we stomped, heading towards those mammoth human creations that is a wind farm perched high upon the range. Not a rabbit was sighted. Just a few ducks upon the water of the farm dam, safe with the season not open for another month.
We head down the hill to the Jeep waiting for us patiently like a well trained dog. We load it up and as I unload my magazine I count the rounds 3,4....and there's 5. A night out for a few hours not one round fired. The hunting gods were sending me a reminder. Don't expect every hunt to be a good hunt. I didn't mind that so much, but then crossing town I hit every red light again, the Lanber also slipped out of it's case when I pulled it out of the car and to top the night off the rabbit sent me a little golden shower all up my sleeve when I cleaned it making me a scent paradise for my dog.
These nights happen. The important thing is to learn something from it. This night I learnt to roll with the punches. I also learnt that a true friend leaves you with the meat for your freezer, even if it was just because he had pity for your bad night. Thanks Joel, I owe you a Catalan Stew.