Chasing chooks and dreams

It was a Friday when the boys decided they needed to catch the chickens. They came home, dressed in their best suits, to make the announcement. It was not yet daylight savings, and darkness was closing in, so we were doubtful of their success. Undeterred, they called it a challenge, and set out to hunt the oblivious birds.

Apparently suits are not the best attire for such escapades, but they do make for very entertaining photos. For the record, chooks can run faster than pinstriped legs and are very good and left –right dodging manoeuvres. If the birds had been carrying a rugby ball, the All Blacks would have hung their heads in shame at what had become of our national sport. Several avian tries later, the chooks were restrained.

As for the boys, they were just happy to be eating chicken, no matter how mangy or mite-ridden, simply because it was not wild boar again. That’s the problem with hunting down here – it’s almost always successful. Enjoyable as it is to get out and about amongst the elements and activate your inner cave man instincts, there’s a limit to how much pig you can fit into a freezer.

We had flatmates up in Auckland who were into hunting. Every other Friday they would traipse off into a private block – game guaranteed! – with a gun and grand intentions, and every other Sunday night they would return empty handed, save the twin pack of steak they’d picked up from Pak’n’Save’s Meat Week on the way home. Hunting in the frozen food section is not quite the same as hunting in the high country. You’re told to leave your dogs outside, for a start.

Then again, in Auckland, you are more likely to see a handbag dog in a knitted coat than a flatbed truck with working dogs chained to the back. Perhaps the lack of canine intervention has something to do with our Northern friends’ lack of success – neither their house cat nor pet skink are likely to do much to fill the gap.

When we told our flatmates about this mythical Southern land, where ‘Hunting’ and ‘Fishing’ are not concepts, but verbs, they laughed. Knowing that Ashburton has only two supermarkets from which to select cutlets at 8pm, they left us with an ultimatum: ‘pics, or it didn’t happen’.

This weekend’s a long one, so the boys will be sure to go hunting again. With chook chasing experience under their belts, the pigs won’t stand a chance. Sausages, ribs, spit roast and pork belly will all be on the menu – and on our flatmates’ Facebook walls – again. And this time round, suits will be optional.

Originally published in The Ashburton Guardian

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