Jim Kroening: “A Real Good Bloke”

Hunting in South Canterbury high country

Past-President of the South Canterbury NZDA Branch, Jim Kroening, has been awarded branch life membership. It comes after over two decades of effort, passion and dedication to the branch.

To get to know Jim a bit better I asked him a few questions about his hunting, time with the South Canterbury NZDA Branch and where he sees his club going forward.

Do you have a favourite hunting story you would like to share?

I’m privileged to have a good list of hunting stories. One particular year, a good friend of mine, his son and I flew down to hunt an area of Stewart Island we call the Peninsula.

When we were dropped off, the pilot warned me not to get my hopes up. The area we were going to hunt was bush-clad in one area and sand dunes across another. I knew it was going to be hard work getting across the terrain but was feeling pretty optimistic about running into a deer.

Jim on a meat hunting expedition

On the first day I went out early in the morning. It was slow going through heavy bush and after a while we stopped to glass. Not long after, we spotted a deer in a small clearing. I was up first to shoot—I drew my aim, took a breath, and there you go, nailed my first animal for the trip. It was hard work recovering. My mate was in front and just as we were walking, I heard him cock his rifle and a shot rang out––by six o’clock in the morning we had deer number two for the trip–not a bad turnout.

For day two, my mate and his son decided they were going to miss the morning hunt so I went solo. Within not long I spotted my first deer, drew my aim and got a good shot off at it. Unfortunately the deer dropped in heavy bush and so it was bloody hard work to try and recover it. After looking for over an hour, I headed back to where I shot to regain my bearings. Just as I was heading back to look for it again, I turned a corner and bloody hell, there was another deer. It was the same story–drew my aim, took the shot and there I had it, three white-tails under my belt.

Can you tell me of some of your highlights and some of the challenges you faced as President at South Canterbury?

A highlight was definitely helping the branch host the NZDA Conference. The theme was “tahr” because of the big group of tahr hunters in the branch. We managed to organise most of the top 20 best tahr of the year to be brought for display, which was a great win.

The successful relocation of the South Canterbury NZDA clubrooms

When it comes to challenges, the biggest was likely deciding how we were to deal with the coastal erosion and risk of our clubrooms becoming unusable. We decided the simple answer was that we needed to shift the clubrooms. Unfortunately, our insurance didn’t cover the cost of relocating the buildings and so the branch had to find a way to selffund. Thankfully, the work has come out well and hopefully the club will have many more good years in the rooms.

Receiving life membership is a great honour, did you do anything to celebrate your award?

On the night of the awards ceremony, I had a bit of a feeling that something might be about to happen as my mates were talking about some sort of award. The moment my name was called I definitely felt a good sense of pride in the achievement.

I was proud to have my contribution to the club recognised but I really feel that I just did my bit. A good club like South Canterbury takes a strong team of individuals and all of the work we have done and achievements we’ve made over the years are a result of the hard-working members and the sacrifices they’ve made.

In terms of celebrations, I kept it fairly low-key and just enjoyed the evening with my mates from the branch and with my family.

What would you like to see from the South Canterbury branch going forward?

There has been a good bit of work done to get the clubrooms sorted again. We needed to build a new toilet and kitchen. Unfortunately, I was not able to get too involved with the building due to an accident I had in May last year but I am very happy to see the work done to a great standard!

My main hope and concern going forward is making sure the club can attract and keep young people— something I acknowledge is difficult for all sports clubs at the moment. The HUNTS courses we run are going to be an essential tool and we need to keep up all the good work the branch does in that space. I also hope the branch can continue to offer a variety of club hunts throughout the year to keep young people engaged and wanting to come back.

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