The bucket list

Bob Black is in his ‘se­nior’ years but he’s not sit­ting back and watch­ing life go by; he’s tick­ing off his bucket list, in­clud­ing a guided hunt for Cape Bar­ren geese with Rock­jaw Tours.

Field and Game - - THE BUCKET LIST -

For more than 45 years I’ve been a reg­u­lar Vic­to­rian duck hunter, and look­ing else­where for unique hunt­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties has al­ways been part of my bag.

Trav­el­ling to New Zealand for 14 years chas­ing Mal­lards, par­adise ducks and canada geese, a pheas­ant shoot on Kings Is­land in 2008, a 10-day bird hunt­ing trip to South Africa in 2014 and fi­nally, the crème de la crème, an English driven-game shoot in York­shire, UK, in late 2015.

With all that ac­com­plished, there are still a few things left on the bucket list: a Cape Bar­ren goose hunt, plus of course, mar­ry­ing ei­ther Ni­cole Kid­man, An­gelia Jolie, Ju­lia Roberts or Kiera Knight­ley on the re­bound from one of their ex-hus­bands …

As, ob­vi­ously, no Hol­ly­wood star­let had read my ad­vert in “Des­per­ate & Date­less”, I was de­lighted to re­ceive an in­vi­ta­tion late last year from a shooting col­league, Dr Bill Davies from Bal­larat, to join his group known as The Magnificent 7.

I grabbed the op­por­tu­nity to be the eighth gun on Flin­ders Is­land in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

The shoot is metic­u­lously or­gan­ised by Rock­jaw Tours; the head guide, Chris “Rock­jaw” Rhodes, is a leg­end in his own right. I sim­ply call him “Rock” be­cause a more solid and pro­fes­sional guide you could never wish to be in the com­pany of if you are de­sirous of shooting Cape Bar­ren geese.

Air tick­ets, trans­porta­tion, three nights’ ac­com­mo­da­tion, three meals a day and top Su­per X Lead 2 shot all pro­vided by the Rock for an all-in­clu­sive price of well un­der $2000 — top value in my book.

My tip­ping fees alone to gun bear­ers and beat­ers dur­ing my nine days in York­shire on Lord of the Manor Es­tates left very lit­tle change out of $2000.

The Magnificent 7, along with this oldage pen­sioner, as­sem­bled at Essendon Air­port on Fe­bru­ary 17 for a very pleas­ant 55-minute scenic flight over to Flin­ders Is­land.

You only have a 21 kg bag­gage al­lowance, which in­cludes your gun in a lock­able carry case, so I was de­lighted to be in­formed by Bill that camo cloth­ing is per­mis­si­ble dur­ing these flights. Con­se­quently I may have re­sem­bled the Miche­lin Man but I wore my heavy boots and even my wa­ter­proof camo jacket over ev­ery­thing else. More lay­ers than an onion.

Ar­riv­ing on Flin­ders the Rock was there to meet and greet and we were whisked away to his ex­cel­lent hunt­ing lodge: four bed­rooms, two bath­rooms, spa­cious lounge and din­ing fa­cil­i­ties, and the fridges and cup­boards stocked with enough food to with­stand a siege.

I will just add that on ar­rival, a very pleas­ant and friendly Fin­ders Is­land Ranger, who gave us a brief­ing out­side air­port, added into the con­ver­sa­tion that feral cats were a wel­come ad­di­tion to your bag.

As all hunters know, they are with­out a doubt our dead­li­est preda­tor; they can climb any tree and catch the par­ent birds nap­ping or sim­ply eat the eggs or the young. Hav­ing seen my fair share of huge feral cats on my nu­mer­ous shooting

ex­ploits, no fox would ever tackle a feral cat and the only so­lu­tion to this grow­ing prob­lem is the hunter with the gun!

Back to the hunt — the Rock has two ve­hi­cles: a Land Rover De­fender that he drives, which re­sem­bles a Sher­man tank, and an eight-seater Kombi bongo van, so Dr Bill and I jumped in with Rock and let the other bongo play­ers take the van.

The Rock has landowner per­mis­sion to hunt on nu­mer­ous prop­er­ties, made eas­ier by the quad bike towed be­hind the De­fender. Upon ar­riv­ing at var­i­ous prop­er­ties, the guns are placed well apart in the cover of scrub, bushes or trees and Rock drives the quad around the vast perime­ter of the main pad­dock you have been placed in with the ob­ject of flush­ing the var­i­ous mobs of feed­ing geese to­wards the guns.

The goose is a huge bird, ev­ery bit as big as a canada goose and can travel in twos and threes or mobs as big as 30.

The adrenalin re­ally starts pump­ing when you see a big mob winging across the ad­join­ing pad­dock to­wards you. If you wear a pace­maker, switch it off; I can guar­an­tee you your heart will re­quire no elec­tronic im­pulses to keep it beat­ing …

The bag limit is 10 for the Satur­day – Sun­day shoot and with the amount of time and ef­fort the Rock puts in over nu­mer­ous drives and var­i­ous lo­ca­tions, that bag is more than achiev­able. The Su­per X Lead 2 shot is a first-class car­tridge to bring these 747s to ground and, of course, a head shot guar­an­tees it.

In­cluded in the pack­age is the op­por­tu­nity to go out long lin­ing for gummy sharks in Cap­tain Rock’s 9 m boat, which has two 150 hp out­board mo­tors as well as the op­tion of surf fish­ing from the glo­ri­ous beaches. All tackle and bait is pro­vided.

The meals served up must re­ceive an hon­ourable men­tion and in many years to come when Rock semi-re­tires, if he opens a wood-fired pizza or fish and chip shop, he will have lo­cals and tourists queu­ing up in the street.

Two of the evenings, he pro­duced eight piz­zas from scratch out of his oven, all dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of first-class qual­ity, not to men­tion the world-class flake and fries and Flin­ders Is­land lamb and beef with mint sauce or mus­tard.

All in all, a great and mem­o­rable long week­end, we all de­parted the is­land with con­spic­u­ous quan­ti­ties of goose breasts in zip lock bags and a good kilo or more each of freshly caught flake.

The group also pur­chased a dozen fresh cray­fish to take home but a fur­ther word of warn­ing: be pre­pared for a battle with air­lines upon check in re­gard­ing over­weight lug­gage. You can’t wear cray­fish like you can camo gear so re­mem­ber, the less you take, the more you can bring home.

So, if you’re look­ing for a truly mem­o­rable, re­mark­able and rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive hunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, start saving and check out rock­jaw­tours.com.au

We do live in the great­est coun­try on this earth. Now, back to the bucket list.

Paul Schem­bri and Phil Nicholson

Surf fish­ing on Flin­ders Is­land

Dr Bill Davies and the 8th mem­ber of the Magnificent Seven, Bob Black.

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