Friday, May 4, 2018

The HILLS are alive with the sound of----

Yes, it's that time of the year. It is not so much the 'sound of music' in the hills; it is the sound of gunfire across the water. If it was in some other countries, one would shiver in fear. Here, in New Zealand, it is the seasonal sound of ducks been shot.

    Every year,  this event draws some negative comments from folk who find the practice abhorrent in some way. Many of their utterances are baseless, ranging from their belief that the 'sport' is cruel, through to being unnecessary.

    OK ... let's look at those claims. The ducks that are being hunted have the potential to reach 'plague-like' proportions, which has ramifications for native wildlife and probably the health of some waterways. The ducks we hunt today are the ones that Europeans introduced. New Zealand a was magic place for them to breed and flourish.

    We quickly realized that there was a need to 'control the numbers of ducks.' They needed to be 'culled,' and the 'duck-hunting-culture' became a popular past-time. Generations of NZers have enjoyed the 'sport.' Many of the hunters became expert shooters and spent much of the duck-hunting-season in their little shelters, on foggy mornings in wetlands and waterways of NZ's provincial regions.

    Not all of the hunters eat their 'prizes.' Perhaps they give them away. I remember living on a farm in my childhood days, and my mother receiving ducks that relatives had shot. I remember being told to be careful when we ate them (probably roasted) because there was always the possibility of the lead-shot still being in the meat, meaning that teeth would come into contact with the little hard pieces of 'shot.' Not a nice experience!

    These days, there are m nay more ways available to cook the ducks. Our more diverse population has introduced us to fabulous new ways to process and cook the duck meat. I am extremely hopeful that I shall be the recipient of some fresh, meaty duck-breasts this season, given that I now live within 'sounding-distance' of the bedlam that is this time of the year. On my morning walk today, I could not miss the sounds from across the water on the Firth of Thames. Bring it on!

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