New Zealand Time – September 29, 4:44pm
It is a lovely Saturday afternoon here in Palmy. Clear skies, around twenty degrees … no complaints here.
Just grinding away at some work in preparation for my return to college Monday after a week off. However, I thought I’d take a brief break to detail my adventures last night in the hills and fields of New Zealand, hunting possums.
Now, for the unaware, the possum is a giant pest in New Zealand. It isn’t a native species, and recent numbers have their population estimated at over 70 million. In comparison, the human population is just over 4 million, and the sheep population is just over 40 million. Since New Zealand has no real predators, the possum has been allowed to flourish here since it was introduced to the country pretty much doing whatever it wishes. As a result to diminish their numbers, various methods have been put into place … the most entertaining and popular of which is possum hunting.
Three of us ventured bravely into the New Zealand night to take on the treacherous beasts. I think we departed around 8pm or so, and didn’t return until shortly after 1am. The grand total for the evening was 13, which is apparently quite good for a single night. The night itself was absolutely gorgeous. For the majority of the evening we had clear skies and a bright moon. Despite only being about 30+ kilometres out of Palmy, I have to say the view was easily one of the more breathtaking I’ve experienced since being in NZ. The area were were in was composed of hills, valleys, with some forest cover (and sheep of course … I got startled a couple times by “Bah”-ing sheep in the darkness). The moonlight lit up most of what the eye could see, and there was as sprawling mist amongst the hills on the surrounding horizon. Simply beautiful.
However, despite the beautiful view, the long trek through a forest-laden hillside yielded no actual possums. All of our possums were discovered in trees and foliage closer to the actual roadside. The forest trek probably took around an hour or so, and was good exercise at least. I believe my own personal tally for the evening finished at 5. In preparation for the hunt, a half hour or so was spent at a rifle range to get ‘warmed up’.
Alas, it was a most entertaining evening, and the plan at the moment is to hopefully set out again in December after school is done. If the weather is good, and hopefully it will be on account of summer beginning, the hope is to combine camping and hunting. The cool prospect of camping in the NZ bush is that there really isn’t anything to be wary of. No bears, wolves, mountain lions, sasquatch or some of the many other animals I won’t bother listing. Actually to be honest, there isn’t a lot of NZ wildlife that isn’t a bird. Holly will attest to this I’m sure. Alas, those reading at home may be happy, or not, to know that my little jaunt last night has reignited my desire to get my gun license once I return home. While I realize hunting deer/moose/mastadon certainly isn’t hunting possum, a start is a start.