Jack’s Night

The afternoon had been spent making the first batch of hot N’ spicy zucchini relish for the summer. It had been a warm day, thankfully not one of those devastatingly draining hot days where you could just strip off everything and stand under a cold shower. Instead it was a kinda, just right, not too hot, summer day. For me though, working the kitchen, with the sun setting in the western window, it was a different story. I was now hot. It had got to that time when you need to take a break, sit under a fan with a cool drink and chill. But, I had vegetables to chop and a tortilla cooking on the stove. Vegetables don’t cook themselves you know … Pesky little buggers.

It’s a little early in the season to be cooking a glut of zucchini, I mean the zucchini in my garden is growing and I’ll admit they’re rather small, not even a feeds worth. But here I am sweating over a hot stove … it’s all Jack’s fault. He’s gone veg growing mad this year (he officially has veg fever). Months ago he built a poly tunnel. Not one that comes as a kit that you merely assemble … oh no that’s not good enough for Mr. Jack! He used this clever (and cheap) method using poly tubes, timber and plastic, and the result is the bee’s knees. Why? Because it puts him months in advance with veg productivity (not that we’re at all competitive about growing veg). It’s a cool climate up here in the central highlands, as a result we have a short summer growing season. The beauty of a poly tunnel is that it harnesses whatever sunlight there is, and multiplies it tenfold making those sensitive summer veg happy little beasts. As a result he gets mega veg, and it’s all ready well and truly before my veg, which is at the mercy of the elements. Hence the esky full of zucchini left on my door step a day earlier … by Jack. And when the zucchini is in glut, I make relish (which just happens to be one of Jack’s favourites). We have a deal, he gives me excess zucchini and I give him jars of relish in return. But enough about relish, this story is about hunting.

I’d already taken the rifle out in the morning and bagged a rabbit. I have a quota of 50 rabbits to shoot for an event I’m cooking for, on Australia Day. One rabbit a day won’t cut it. There’s no time to muck around here, I need more productivity, more bunnies in the freezer. And even though it was hot, I knew I needed to go out in the evening and bolster the numbers up. These rabbits won’t shoot, skin and gut themselves.

I messaged Jack, who’s much more handy with the rifle, and we tee’d up a 7pm rendezvous. “I’ll try not to be too late” I said to Kate in passing as I left the sweet lady on the sofa. With a parting kiss I was gone. Short hunts are rarely the case. Honestly, I have the intention of making a hunt a quick process, however the reality is, once I’m out in the fields I get lost in the moment, the fields of gold, the wind in the eucalyptus, the scurry of enticing rabbits and the chorus of birds singing their goodnight dusk ballads. It’s not the bloodlust of being on the kill, it’s more about being out of the physical house, instead I’m out in the true house where I feel at home.

This night though, I was clumsy. Not in regards to gun safety, more so that it just wasn’t my night, I just felt clumsy. You know those days when things just don’t work out? You pour out of date milk onto your cereal, get a parking fine, spill a coffee and then miss an important appointment. This was my evening. (ps. I don’t eat cereal) I even noticed how annoying I walked over the rough ground beneath me, my footsteps were clumsy, this annoys me to no end. I just wasn’t feeling 100%. I blame my diminished focus on the disturbed sleep I’ve been having of late. I wake up worrying about where we’ll live in the future, how we’ll secure a home for our family of girls and how will we afford this bill or that rent.

I liked being out there, but it was Jack who did all the work. He was calm and focused. He’s a man of efficiency. He installed a bi-pod mounted on the stock of his rifle that gives 80% accuracy. When he wants a rabbit shot cleanly in the head, he normally gets it. Me on the other hand, I’m determined to keep shooting without the aid of a bi-pod, as I figure I may not always have one, or I may be using someone else’s rifle and I want to still be able to nail the shot. So on this night my clumsy stubbornness resulted in 2 rabbits while Jack easily shot 10 or so.

As the light diminished and the sun had sunk completely, we called it a day. The colour of the setting sky and the golden glow on the cured fields of grain warmed my heart. It’s such a beautiful place at times. And even though I’d been lacklustre in my ability I was happy for Jack. It was his night tonight.

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  • January 15, 2013 - 10:15 am

    Cate - Hey Rohan,

    Any chance you would share your zucchini relish recipe? The spices alone have me salivating.

    CateReplyCancel

    • January 15, 2013 - 10:23 am

      rohan - Sure. It’s in my cook book…..under the larder section.ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2013 - 12:03 pm

    Chris - Hey Rohan,
    Any chance of some picks of Jack’s poly tunnel and how he made it? We live near Woodend and have the same issue as you in terms of a short growing period. A poly tunnel is definitely on my massive ‘to do’ list for the farm and I’d like to make it as cheaply as possible but make sure it’s well constructed. Thanks mate, keep up the good work, love the book and the blog.
    Cheers,
    Chris.ReplyCancel

    • January 16, 2013 - 3:21 am

      rohan - Brother its basic. Wooden frame you could even cement in main posts. He used dowel to hold conduit in place for the frame and also dowel to join the frame and then used a high grade plastic purpose made for poly tunnels. Works a treat. Ventilation is paramount though as the can heat up. So windows and door at the ends is a must.ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2013 - 1:59 pm

    Amy Deering - Your musings are such a pleasure to read. You are so incredibly hard on yourself, it’s plain to see how much you care for your family & that you don’t take your responsibilities lightly. It’s an honourable quality in a man & one I admire greatly in my husband. Just remember, when she says don’t worry so much… please don’t worry so much, she knows what she’s talking about (we have good instincts for these things). And please don’t stop taking us all on your adventures! I’ll be purchasing your book soon by the way, I’m dying for that salsa recipe!
    AmyReplyCancel

    • January 16, 2013 - 3:19 am

      rohan - Thanks Amy. I’m too serious sometimes…..mostly at 3am in bed.ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2013 - 6:04 pm

    Tohner - Rohan,
    I worry too, trying to keep the balance between doing things that you love and that you feel is important and supporting a family. The modern world has been designed to try to make you fall in line and worry about foolish things and money is one of those. But still we worry.
    Your friend in Texas,
    TohnerReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2013 - 8:39 pm

    Christine - Just curious, how much does a bullet cost?ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2013 - 9:40 pm

    Adam - Hi Rohan,

    I was just wondering if you would be able to delve a little further into the poly tunnel mentioned? Curious how it works / what it looks like. Love the blog btw.

    Cheers,
    Adam.ReplyCancel

    • January 16, 2013 - 3:15 am

      rohan - Yeah….the basis is a wooden frame with dowel holding conduit in place then tight wrap of heat grade plastic.ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2013 - 10:29 pm

    joe - Hey Rohin.

    In leu of a bi-pod a walking stick held with your front hand while also resting the fore-stock upon (a bit like a camera mono pod) can add much needed stability and be adapted to borrowed and owned rifles alike. Shooting sticks are another option but are a little clumsy.

    Worth a thought.ReplyCancel

    • January 16, 2013 - 3:15 am

      rohan - Yeah I was using a hunting mono pod, but it annoyed me when those moments called for quick action out in the field.ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2013 - 10:39 pm

    Warwick - Hello, Rohan I think your blog is informative, inspiring and extremely well written. I am waiting for your book to arrive. I have a load of excess chillies, I hope your recipe for the chilli sauce is in the book. I love chillies, the only thing I don’t have chillies on is cornflakes – but then again I don’t eat cornflakes. Looking forward to April, I have run out of Salmon.ReplyCancel

    • January 16, 2013 - 3:13 am

      rohan - I will get you more salmon. I will email you my new chilli sauce recipe in return for using your boat next time I’m on the island. Deal?ReplyCancel

  • January 15, 2013 - 11:31 pm

    Brendan - Hey Rohan,

    We met at Shelley Pantons, I brought the sourdough and mentioned that I was getting my Firearms licence. Well, I got it and have been out three times. LAst week my mate bagged two Rabbits and taught me how to skin them, what a valuable skill. That little bunny is now in the freezer.

    Two nights ago we went out again and I got my first Rabbit. Perfect head shot but it came out through the stomach, piercing the guts. I was shattered, quite upset that I’d shot the poor thing but could not consume it. As a family we decided that it’d be veg meals for the rest of the week, hunting is for food in my opinion, not a bloodlust.

    Thanks for the encouragement. We’ve also made the Zucchini relish, had it on Christmas day (My wife gave me your book for Christmas but dug it out early to use the recipe), what a hit!!

    Cheers,
    BrendanReplyCancel

    • January 16, 2013 - 3:14 am

      rohan - Cheers Brendan. Glad to hear your getting some use out of the book! Keep on hunting those rabbits, you’ll get that perfect shot soon brother.ReplyCancel

  • January 16, 2013 - 3:17 am

    Darrun - Welli like rabIts but my girlfrend Debby doesnt.

    DarrunReplyCancel

  • January 16, 2013 - 3:24 am

    Cate - Whoops – didn’t realise the hot zuccini relish recipe was in the book. Now found it… and browsed the book for the first time. Well done.

    CheersReplyCancel

  • January 16, 2013 - 4:43 am

    kenzie king - Ahhhh… to live a day with you. That would be such fun! Thanks for letting us glimpse into your life, I’m striving to make ours more similar to yours. I wish I lived in your neck of the world so I could make it to your Feast. Enjoy every moment of it!

    Kenzie King
    Weston, Idaho USAReplyCancel

  • January 16, 2013 - 7:55 am

    Linda - Now you’ve got me wishing I’d gone for my shooting licence. I did my safety course about a year ago because I wanted to shoot rabbits. Then I wussed out at the thought of having guns, even with gun safes. I would love to learn to shoot but worry so much about the children anywhere near guns. Still this post makes me think again. It would be lovely to go out after they are in bed. At this time of the year it’s light long enough for me to be able to do it.ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2013 - 4:58 am

    Darrun - Timmy was btten by araBit once.

    DarrunReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2013 - 3:01 pm

    Peter Patenaude - wow- you have a lot of rabbits out your way.
    Is there no daily limit because of overpopulation?ReplyCancel

  • January 18, 2013 - 2:46 am

    Bill Di Donna - Rohan,
    I suggest the lazy mans way of spotlighting. When you spot a rabbit dont get out and shoot over the bonnet, merely keep the light on the rabbit and move the vehicle to the right so the passenger can shoot with the window down and using the door as a ledge. Beats freezing in winter too. If you use a .22LR instead of a magnum shots are under 10 cents each. As for the lady concerned about having guns around kids, my guns are secured and users supervised 100% of the time just like when kids are near water. There is no stigma or glorification. It’s just a tool. My son and daughter go sometimes to the local range with me and literally have a blast. They are not interested in shooting animals and aren’t interested in owning guns themselves or pursuing shooting as a sport. They prefer to play video games or knit. Thats fine but they dont have any misconceptions about firearms either.
    Regards BillReplyCancel

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