Saturday, June 19, 2010

Is the ice still in the river?

This seems appropriate as I have just been writing about the frozen Dnieper River in the Ukraine (of course it's the territory controlled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the book, not Ukraine).

Despite gale warnings and rain forecast James and I took the galleon in persuit of adventure to Pat's river for an hour or so in what was theoretically the hottest part of the day.

The joy of being very close to all of this sort of thing, and quite organised is that from get up from my desk to get into the water or throwing a line takes 15-20 minutes. Unlike my good friend Chris back in SA who would get up at two AM, to faff about, and fiddle pack everything and check it... and be lucky to be launching by seven (and he lived a few hundred metres from the slip) we're a good team, and quite practiced at chaos theory packing. Hey, it does mean some interesting things get left behind, which has been responsible for quite a lot of fiendish contrivance and ingenuity over the years, but most of it has residence in the dive box or squid box or flounder crate etc.

The ditch next to Galleon would have been a better target... warmer for a start. We took the big kayak which has a 180Kg capacity - and James I don't weigh much more than 130Kg. We got the boat down to the river - low tide and it was the color of tea. Black, stand-your-spoon-in-it-tea with a reddish tinge, overhung with ti-trees and she-oaks. It's quite a pretty estuary, and the vessel was perfectly designed for those with piles - with lovely soothing icy water coming up through the drainage in floor, and soaking my sit-upon. It's a sit-on Kayak designed not sink even if a wave breaks right over the top of it, with drainage holes. Someone needs to explain to the water that it needs to go OUT not come seeping in, and through the rubber of my wetsuit. We paddled upriver first (for the Google Earth-curious - it's the little river next to the airport. We got in off Boyes road, next to a bunch of guinea fowl - I'm not sure if they show up on google earth, but I was very excited to see them. Good eating!) There is a mile of estuary that is tidal. It's about 40-50 feet wide at the best down to about 20 at the upper bridge - where there is a little weir with a dead wallaby in it. And a huge fish that dived away from us... so there are fish in there. We'll investigate at higher tide, sometime.

On the way back down, we established that the fish living in it are entirely mad, as our tandem paddling or vast skill tipped us into the drink (it's not very stable with two on it) and that water is around 8 degrees Celcius - a LOT colder than the sea at 12-14. Anyway, we paddled down to sea, and met the gale (delightful when you are wet) and passed a dead ray in the 6 foot wide range. Sorry - no pic - just as well as the camera would have got wet. Hmm. Dead critter at the top, dead critter at the bottom... maybe that system needs a good heavy flood before we forage there.


  1. I think that's what I loved most about last week...the ability to wake up, pull on shorts and shirt, grab a coffee, a pole and a bucket and be fishing the rip in 15 minutes. I would watch some absolutely mad people whilst fishing. They would exit the inlet into the open ocean standing on top what looked like kayaks...only too narrow to sit in. They stood the whole way in and out using an oar that looked like what one uses in a kayak only longer.

    Nary the first one wore a life vest and when one passed close enough to hale I asked. The response was they make it too difficult to balance. Madness.

  2. What are you options for hunting the critters of the island? Like the guinea noise boxes?
    I can see Dr. Monkey stalking the fowl with a short bow. Mind the beard in the string though!
    Is there a hunting season for the non-native species, or are you able to take them year round? What little hunting I know of Down Under is for Buff, and feral pigs in the north tropical island areas. Just a few miles from your grounds to say the least.

  3. All right, JP, what the heck are Buff? I'm assuming that we aren't hunting people in the buff (either nudist hunters or targets), or talking about being a hunting buff (which is what Google seems to think) or a hat... ah, wait, there's a reference to buffalo? How did buffalo get from America to Australia? Different buffalo, or... I love English, we share so few words...

  4. Asiatic Water Buffalo. A bit like hunting Cape Buffalo, but slightly less dangerous. Asiatics don't actively hunt hunters, but a wounded beast can do some damage in retribution. The horns make nice belly stock for a horn bow.

    American buffalo are Bison. I don't know if any are in Oz outside of a zoo. We used to have three or four here where I live (name of the park is Buffalo Ridge), but the new owners didn't want them, so the old owner sold them to a friend of his.
    One of the younger males once mock charged me. Maybe it could tell i was wondering how good it would taste.
    There is a hybrid called a beefalo crossed with cattle, and varying degrees of hybrids (cattalo, Bison hybrids, etc)

  5. also, the B52 bomber is called a BUFF. . . Big Ugly Fat F....Fellow (or some other word starting with F)

  6. I had to go back and re-read. We're not talking about sending Dr. Monkey up against any flavor of buffalo (water, bison, or B2) with just a bow, which somehow I had gotten in my head. I mean, the man likes adrenaline, but longbow, recurve, compound, or even crossbow against what little I know of buffalo would be seriously dangerous. But it was birds, which seems more reasonable.

  7. Quilly - if you have any contacts around there could you find out what they're called? Fascinating.
    Yes, proximity does change the equation - it can become an hour or two (which is often less than a city-commute. I appreciate that no end.

  8. JP - there are feral pigs, turkeys, peacocks - for those all you need is permission to hunt on the land. Bows however (if I read huting regs right) are verboten. Not enough hours and not enough money right now to experiment. We'll get there. There's a big list of tasty edibles which can be hunted under permit, but I still need to get a shotgun - which I have begun to look into with some more expert help.

  9. Mike, I'd hunt buff with a bow (a rather successful outfitter in northern Oz did only bow hunts for buff and pigs, but sadly the main man passed from a heart attack, and the land owner will deal with no one else), but I'm a bit nuts, and I'd not recommend it for trying to scare up food.
    Smaller game now, a bow can be more effective than a gun. a slightly misplaced shot will kill the animal faster, or even worse one will kill where the bullet just wounds the beast, taking longer to do the job, or maiming the animal. Nonetheless, shot placement is critical, gun or bow. Guns are just easier to get proficient with. One of the better primitive arrowhead makers is an Oz company.

    Turkey is great, and I've been told Peafowl is tasty as well, but I've never had it.
    Yes, a shot gun is your best bet there. Turkey here is a sub-industry of hunting, with loads, guns, and other sundries aim at the turkey hunter. For pigs, I'd want to use a slug, as shot really just makes them grumpy, and a grumpy pig is not to be trifled with.
    A shotgun with changeable choke tubes and one rifled choke for sabot slugs or a cylinder bore for solids would work great for you.
    A friend of my Dad's in Florida would trap wild pigs, feed them up on grains and Purina pig feed for a few weeks and then butcher them. He said it got rid of the "wild taste" of the pork. Depends on what they eat primarily though. Texas hogs it seems are not as gamey. Some prefer the wild taste as well.

  10. JP? I'll agree that it's doable (I have bow hunting friends in Colorado, or at least that's where they used to live), but buffalo/bison, wild boar, bear, and similar big game always seemed a bit overpowering for that to me. Although as part of a group, with a guide who knows what they are doing... maybe. But you're right, a bow is certainly a good choice for smaller game. Heck, my cousins used to enjoy trying to pick off prairie dog with a bow -- the stalk was the hard part.

  11. Buff with a bow is not to be taken lightly, but a well placed shot is as effective as any gun shot. The asiatic is very doable as they are not nearly as aggressive as a Cape. I knew there were likely none flitting hither and yon on Dave's new home Isle. I wonder if any Feral Cattle are thereabouts?
    Pigs are tougher than some expect, but a quartering away shot and you miss the scar pads the boars get from fighting. Still, gun or bow, pigs are not to be taken lightly. many a hunter has been gored by a boar.
    Feral pigs are a year round hunting ordeal here as well, and many are taken with traditional tackle, and more with the laser straight shooting compounds.
    A new model compound bow shoots an arrow at 300+fps, about half the speed some old black powder guns. I've seen them shoot through a black bear. Even the one my uncle shot with his old Bear recurve went in all the way, and the bear only ran 20-30 yards.
    A shotgun in simplest form is cheaper than one of those things though.
    I use a modernized Hunnish horse bow for my shooting (have not gone back hunting yet. need more practice to feel good about my shot placement) I've also made a few of my own bows from oak boards. One would be fine for hunting pigs, turkey and deer. The other was my first and is a bit light for anything bigger than a turkey, and shoots very slow so a turkey would likely duck the arrow.

    The other reason I was thinking bows is you can also fish with them. Carp, rays, and other larger fish can be shot with a bow-fishing set up. I'd recommend something a bit more stable than the kayak for a boat, but the Inuit use bows from theirs. Back home in Michigan, we'd shoot carp and suckers(a carplike fish) from the shores of rivers and cold smoke them.
    N.Z. has some tourneys for bow-fishing where some of the invasive species are scored by weight shot, no size limits, 'and please shoot at every single one you see thankyouverymuch'.