I was sitting over the kitchen table, drinking tea and smoking. The back door was open but no matter how hard I listened I could never hear him coming until he kicked off his boots at the back door. “Sitting in the dark again,” he said as he came in and turned on the light. We blinked.

I poured him a cup of tea and lit another cigarette, tailor made. He sat down and rolled a cigarette. Those were the days when we all smoked, chain smoked.

“There are a couple of deer up there,” he said after he had lit his cigarette.

“Yeah,” I said. The pause was long and drawn out. “A hind and her fawn I figure.”

We drank our tea and smoked our cigarettes. I let him come to it in his own time.

“I suppose I should shoot them, before someone else does.”

I shrugged and shook my head.  I had seen it all before with hunters. Once we get past the age of 30 the old thrill of the hunt goes, and we get all sentimental, become bird watchers and photographers. The same with fishermen. They become whale watchers and pelagic birders. My nephew was well on his way to becoming one of us.

“We don’t need the meat,” I said and left it at that, thinking that if his mother, my sister, was around, she would have had those deer forthwith. It takes all kinds.

Warren, my nephew, was staying with me on a fencing contract and every evening he would take his gun to do a bit of hunting, but it was more of just a walk in the bush. Occasional he’s bring back a hare for my cats who would scramble up his bare legs as he gutted and skinned it. He always wore black shorts and a dark green swandri.  He had a heavy, drooping moustache which gave him a sad vulnerable look. It made him a hit with the girls. “You often find deer now in small patches of bush. Refugees,” he said.

Warren stayed with me for several months on the farm.  It had a patch of some 20 acres of bush, on a ridge which eventually led all the way into the Ureweras, so there was no surprise about the deer. He loved it.  Kereru in the puriri trees, falcons, and coveys of quail, trout in the river, wild turkeys and pea fowl, as well as the deer. He thought it was just paradise. I will never know now why I didn’t take him on permanently.

The deer stayed on and multiplied over the next fifteen years or so. Walking up the hill to check the stock, I would often find a couple of deer walking up ahead of me. They grazed with the cattle at the top of the farm, near the bush line. They became so secure, I could watch through my binoculars, a stag rampant on the hill roaring at the stags on the farm across the river. It couldn’t last, I knew.

The peace was broken by the sound of a helicopter one morning. It was at the top of the farm along the bush line.  I called my neighbour.  “There’s a huge stag up there!”  I could hear the thrill of the hunt in his voice. Blood lust. Some men just never grow up. “Can’t you just leave them there. Do you have to kill everything in sight?” He hung up on me.

I was up there at dawn the next morning, waiting for them, with my gun. I made sure they saw me. I won’t say I threatened them.  I didn’t fire my gun. They didn’t come back. A week or so later sitting at the kitchen table one night, sitting over a pot of tea as usual, smoking, I caught the blinking lights of spotlights in the bush.  I continued to sit there, raging about it, debating whether to take my gun and confront them. I was at an age when spending the rest of my life in jail wouldn’t matter much. I walked away from it, feeling like one of those who did nothing to stop the Nazis exterminating the Jews.

I sold the farm. I didn’t want to live with neighbours who had no respect. I listen to the radio about the greenies trying to save the lions, the rhinos, the elephants, and whatever. They just don’t know who we are. We will hunt out every last one of them. That’s who we are.

About the Entry

  • Blogger name | Narena Olliver
  • Site name | Greytown County Almanac
  • Site URL | greytowncountyalmanac.blogspot.com
  • Why should someone visit your site? A very personal view of the New Zealand environment
  • Entry Number | 37

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