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.
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.