up hill, down dale
Saturday morning I get a text from JB......"Don't you love waking up, stepping out the front door and picking fresh saffron milk caps and fresh eggs for breakfast". Yes that would be nice Joel.....but I'm slightly disadvantaged by not living on a block out in the bush! What cheek!!!
Admittedly I was green with envy, especially that I had a full day of work ahead of me at a wedding in Melbourne that day. Ouch! Actually the wedding was sweet, and making it more interesting was that the groom was a chef, and a pretty good one at that. We had plenty of food talk during the day and one meal that was discussed was a rabbit and snail paella that I offered to make for the newly weds one day, but at the moment I have a rather large gap in my freezer...rabbit.
So a Sunday rabbit hunt was definitely required to re-stock. I rustled up Joel and Drew and late Sunday afternoon we headed out to a block that is decent old hill of granite and grass, perfect rabbit territory. My mind was filling with new recipes as we geared up for the hunt, optimistic that between the three of us we'd surely bag a few furry foes.
We followed the track west, making our way at the base of the mount. Rabbit scats and burrows were everywhere, optimism levels increased. Once we reached the north western aspect we began to ascend along a narrow goat trail. We passed many granite boulders with rabbit holes dotted at the base, grass grazed low almost to dirt level. This was a rabbit infestation! We climbed and climbed. I started to run out of puff as this was turning out to be more of a hike than a hunt, and the views were beginning to grow more spectacular the higher we ascended.
The odd rabbit was spotted, but they where skitchy like a mouse in the pantry. We did all the right things, made sure we were up wind, we stalked, we crawled, we crouched, we waited. These bunnies were so fast it was impossible to get them safely in the sights. Maybe they're under constant attack from birds of prey, being up so high on the mountain with limited cover. It seemed it was drilled into them by the older more experienced bunnies to be fast, be safe.
Light started to fail, it was becoming unsafe to shoot without the aid of a spotlight so we begrudgingly made the call to head down the mountain. It's a harsh place to live up there, and in winter I could imagine it's similar environment to the Scottish Highlands, plenty of moisture, wind, rocks and grass.
It was a quiet walk back to the Jeep, just the sounds of our feet shuffling with discontent and the odd observational comment. The silence only broken after we'd cracked open a few beers out of the esky, all of us theorising as to why we failed and already making plans for a week night hunt somewhere else where the bunnies were more co-operative.
When I have these 'limited success' hunting trips, I think how hard it would be if we stripped ourselves completely of convenience stores loaded with massed produced meat. How hard would it be to survive as a real hunter. Luckily I like growing vegetables!