Cool change

Kim braced against the blues

The early rise is a regular event in this house but it’s not often I can utilise its potential for my pleasure. This morning I will. My partner is away but I’m more than capable of having a quick one without assistance.

My morning’s intention is a quickie of the boar hunting variety.

Fresh boar sign previously noted in a distant gully. Landowner permission sought and approved. A fleeting visit then, to seek the bracken-fern-rooter–just a quick hunt I promise myself—a pre-work stretch for me, two dogs and my rifle.

Things go pear shaped half an hour after I leave the ute. My tracker tells me Pearl is streaking towards a property that is off limits. Worse, she comes to a halt where she really, really should not be— quarry treed. Frustration and anxiety combine into a bitter pill, which slides directly into my gut.

I arrive to find the dogs bailing a blue boar with attitude issues. He made a stand just 40 metres from a dwelling. We are not welcome here. The dogs, both injured, cannot understand why I call them to heel and leave their hardwon catch to walk away unharmed.

A despondent trio, we trudge truckwards. Nugget trails behind before slowing almost to a standstill. A comprehensive search reveals a small but significant wound to his stomach. Buggar.

A distant town and the veterinary services there are our next call then and whilst Nugget’s injury is repaired there, both he and my wallet are now hurting bad.

The cost of the morning quickie is not just financial— no work done today, precious time wasted—and the vet stipulates no hunting Nugget for a fortnight.

My world tips base over apex—no pig hunting for a fortnight; whatever will I do with all my pent-up energy? Not deerstalking as the stags are only a cough and a fart away from letting strip with their full range of vocals and all the excitement of ‘the Roar.’

If I still had a boat, I’d go fish. But I don’t have a boat, nor do I own a casting rod—

not that I can toss a lure with any finesse.

It takes several days before I realise I don’t need a boat, nor a casting rod to go fish. I can scratch the last few coins from the piggy bank and join a fishing charter. I can drive towards the coast and the rising sun then climb aboard someone else’s boat. Be a random stranger amidst a group of random strangers, all of whom are fondling someone else’s rod.

So, I do—I go east—and I fondle someone else’s rod.

Kaikoura—where a combination of salt-laden sea air, seal excrement and cast-ashore seaweed provides a signature tang— where the gentle swell steadily galloping towards the shore is regular and kind—where the albatross and petrels and gulls wait patiently, all conditioned to the one-eyed stare of camera, video and phone— and where the dolphins appear on cue and the cray pots are full of orange gold.

Skipper Tomo and deckie Shane quickly assess all our various quirks and inadequacies. Then they multi-task with ease; building our egos with one hand and working a filleting knife or a cray pot with the other. Better still, either bloke can talk fluent hunting-speak. Yup, these guys and I are on the same wave-length in more ways than one.

Then, a kilometre offshore of the peninsula, I rekindle my affair with the Pacific Ocean. All thoughts of dogs, pigs, deer and rifles clear from my mind. My possie is at the stern but it’s no bum ride. The rod-holder here had lain vacant till I claimed it as my own—as fate would have it, I could not have chosen better if I’d had first option.

Tarakihi, perch, blue cod and various varieties of small shark keep my line taut and my cranking arm, well, cranking!

My arms are toned and strong and I’m grateful for that fact as 100+ metres of fishing line, two baits and a very large sinker come and go. Come and go. Come and go – double hook-up every time!

There are fish fillets in the freezer 24 hours later, a cooked cray in the fridge and a smoked-fish-pie baking in the oven. Hunting in the ocean proved a great success, piggy bank scratchings and precious time both very well spent.

Back here on terra firma the pig dogs are on the mend, the stags are starting to mutter under their breaths and the partner is home once more. Autumn is beginningm to show her true colours and temperatures are dropping day by day. From here on in, the early morning rises and all their pleasures will be very well utilised indeed.

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