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If you are blessed with a good sense of humour, then you’ve got to read this book by Hawkes Bay farmer Kerry Butler … where he recounts his life of escapades, frustrations, hunting, fishing and fun.

 

WARNING

Explicit sexual content may offend those of a sensitive disposition.

Some of the stories are set in the 1960’s during that liberated era of mini-skirts and shenanigans.

Includes extracts from his book “That’s Life.”

Can be ordered from all good Bookstores Nationwide.

Special price of only $24.99

 

Book Review

  By Graham Carter, Editor of
“Fishing & Outdoors”
 
I chuckled and chortled my way through this excellent book.
It’s so refreshing to see we have artists who care to take up the pen and put together art like this.
A great read

Read sample chapters from the book ....

 

Monster Eels

When growing up as a kid in the 1950’s and 60’s life was an adventure … with the only requirement being the imagination to dream up our next escapade. What great times, roaming free and wild without a care in the world.

Gaffing eels was high on the list of exciting adventures. There were some man-eaters living in a deep hole in the creek so it became our ambition to put our lives at risk dragging one of them from deep within their lair.

I tied a piece of string to a hunk of meat and lowered it into the water to attract them. We’re sitting there watching and waiting in a state of anticipation, excitement, and fear … wondering what was going to materialize, and how on earth we were going to handle it when it did.

It wasn’t long before a huge eel appeared from under the bank. This thing had what looked like horns growing out the top of its head. It was the biggest, scariest looking eel we’d ever seen. We were starting to wonder what we’d got ourselves in for, but bravado encouraged us to stick to our plan, as this is what we had come for, and we were armed with a gaff so there was no excuse for chickening out now.

I reached down with the gaff and when the hook was positioned under the eel’s belly, I jerked it up with all my might. Well, all hell broke loose. This thing was tossing me around as if I was the one who had just been gaffed. The strength of him was out of this world. Next minute, he wrapped himself around the handle of the gaff, and proceeded to spin round and round.

The power he possessed was truly mind-blowing. The handle was twisting in my hands … but there's no way I was letting go, even though I was in mortal danger of being dragged over the bank into the murky depths below.

The tussle lasted for quite some time, until suddenly the hook ripped out and he disappeared back under the bank … leaving me standing there a trembling wreck.

On another occasion we did actually manage to get a similar sized eel when using a spear that someone lent us. We were so hyped-up that when trying to stop our prize from wriggling back into the water my mate got his finger too close to the eel’s mouth and had his finger-nail nearly completely torn off for his troubles.

I’ve had a Conger eel strip my finger to the bone when feeling under rocks for paua shellfish. The trouble is, when you get bitten you do most of the damage to yourself in the process of yanking your finger out in such a hurry.

Talking about sticking your hand in dicey places reminds me of the time I saw a sparrow’s nest in our old wood shed so climbed up and poked my hand in. A huge rat ran up my arm, onto my shoulder, then jumped across to a rafter. I lost my grip and fell to the floor.

Another example of putting your hands where they’re best not to be, was when the circus came to Napier and we went to see the animals. They were in cages but the sides on one were covered so I just had to climb up and have a peek through an air gap along the top.

In there was a big old bear. Another boy jumped up and was clinging there with me, when suddenly the brute charged across the cage at us. I released my grip and dropped to the ground, but the other kid was too slow, and the bear grabbed his fingers and started chewing on them.

People poked the bear with sticks, and when the kid’s hand was finally pulled free, the stumps of jagged bone where his fingers had been, were left as clean as a whistle. The bear had been holding on sucking his blood.

Then there was the time I saw a trout swim into a hole in the river bank so decided to have a go at catching it with my bare hands. I had heard old-timers talking about tickling trout so thought it seemed worth a try. I walked across in water waist deep, then reached into the long cavity, where sure enough I could feel the trout.

As I began tickling along its belly towards his gills where I would be able to grab him, I was thinking how this fish felt much bigger than what it had looked … and seemed too slippery for a trout. Quite slimy in fact. At about this point I lost my nerve and decided to get my hand out of there. I had no sooner done so when a massive eel came out and headed straight for me.

It’s hard to move quickly in water. But as I frantically made for shore I was half running, half swimming. I was all flailing arms and legs.

The Bastard chased me all the way across!  I wouldn’t advise swimming starkers’ in a deep, murky pool. When eels latch onto something that fits nicely in their gob, they spin their bodies at an incredible rate of knots ... until the piece of ‘meat’ they’re hanging onto gives way.  Or failing that, is shredded bare to be left a tattered mess.

 

 

   A fairly big eel I caught at Mangakuri beach

 

 


A Passion For Hunting

Back in the 1960’s when I had grown out of shooting rabbits with my .22 I then had a bit of a hankering to have a go at shooting what I considered to be the real thing … deer.  So I bought an Army surplus .303 rifle.

I didn’t know anything about how to hunt deer – or even know of anyone who did. However, an old uncle of mine had a farm that ran right up into the Ruahine’s and he said I could go for a hunt out the back of his place.

It was just coming daylight as I headed up towards the bush-line. My plan was to sneak along the top of the paddocks through the sparsely scattered trees just below the bush edge, and watch for deer heading back after grazing on the grass paddocks during the night.   I hadn’t gone far when I glanced down below, and here were five deer just walking up towards me.

By some miracle I wasn’t affected by buck fever. If I had been under its influence, I would undoubtedly have been so uncontrollably excited, that I’d have opened up on them immediately. But luckily, even though these were the first deer I had seen in my life, let alone been faced with trying to shoot, I managed to stay calm and actually had the presence of mind to sit tight and let them get closer to me. The idea being to ensure I could get as many of them as possible!

This was in the era of overpopulation of deer, when culling was still in full swing, and deer were seen as a pest that needed exterminating. When people went hunting in those days, they weren’t just hoping to “get one”. They expected to get a mob of deer. Hence everyone carried plenty of ammo, in anticipation of a bomb-up.

When I had decided that my five deer were close enough, I proceeded to commence slaughter. Lining up on the first one I let rip, and was quite surprised to see it fall over dead.

Getting straight on with the business at hand, I worked the bolt to eject the empty and crank another round into the breech. By this stage the remaining four deer were high-tailing it in a mad scramble to make it to the safety of the bush … and they were coming straight at me. I’m thinking “this is too easy”.                                                                                                                                                    

When I got my rifle onto them I pulled the trigger, and all that happened was that there was a ‘click.  Frantically working the bolt again, I took a quick aim at the deer which were now nearly on top of me, to hear another dreaded click. The bullets had jammed in the bloody magazine.

By this stage those deer were running past only a few metres from me. And I was getting myself into quite a state. I was desperately delving into my pockets trying to grab some of my spare bullets, but in the heat of the moment my hands weren’t that cooperative, due to having the shakes quite bad … so I was making a bit of a hash of getting another bullet loaded up.

By the time I got my act into gear, they had made it to the safety of the bush, never to be seen again.

So much for my new ex-military .303 Lee-Enfield rifle.  Fancy being let down like that on my very first go. If it hadn’t been for that faulty magazine causing the bullets to jam I could have really cleaned up on that mob. Imagine arriving home with all those deer.  I would have been a legend in my own lunch time.

That day-trip was the extent of my hunting experience, but I had a strong yearning to camp out because I was sure that’d improve my success rate. So I organised a hunting excursion, and five of us set out to walk to Duff Flat between the Wakarara, and Ruahine Ranges, not far up the road from where I live at Tikokino.

I mentioned the Duff Flat area in my recent book  “The Secret To Hunting”  but didn’t get round to telling you about this trip. In fact I saved a lot of the best of the general hunting stuff for this book.

We carried a great big old tent in there. What a trip, with all our gear and cooking utensils etc. Some of us had useless old frameless packs. Some just carried a couple of sugar bags over their back. A couple of the guys even turned up with suit cases.

We had gone in from the end of the Wakarara road, where we left the vehicle and crossed the Makarora River. When we thought we had walked far enough we pitched the tent beside a creek on an open terrace surrounded by bush.

I’ll never forget when one of those intrepid hunters emptied the contents of his pack; there were several china cups and plates broken into a thousand pieces. His mother had packed for him.

We collected a heap of firewood and got a fire going with the idea of cooking sausages in the frying pan that we had carried in.

By this time it was getting late in the day and would be dark shortly so I suggested we go for a quick hunt. But none of the other guys were too keen because they were absolutely stuffed. They told me to go, seeing as I was the only one with a rifle.

I said I didn’t intend to go far. My idea was to cross the creek where we were camped, and climb a steep bank, then just walk through a few hundred metres of bush to where Id be able to look out over Duff Flat, in the hope of seeing a deer grazing.

Anyway, one of the other guys decided he had better go with me to help carry all the venison back. So, leaving the other three to get on with frying the sausages, we crossed the creek and climbed a steep bank before entering the bush, and headed straight through, so as to come out at the other side where it was all open grass.

After walking for a while it started to get quite gloomy in the bush, as darkness fell. But I thought because there was a good moon out we should be able to spot any deer on the clearing due to the fact that the old native grass consisted of dry top which shone quite brightly in the moonlight.

We'd been heading through this bush for quite some time and thinking how we must be nearly there, when we heard voices ahead. It came as a bit of a shock to think there were other people near our spot. So we crept forward until suddenly we could see the glow of a fire. The thought of someone else camping near us was quite annoying.

As we got closer we discovered they were camped down beside a creek on an open terrace where they had a big tent … and there were three of them sitting round a fire cooking in a frying pan what smelt like sausages.

The funny thing is, we stood there looking at this scene for quite some time before the penny finally dropped, and we realised it was our own camp.  It wouldn’t sink in, because how could it possibly be our mates sitting round down there, when we knew for sure that they were way back in the opposite direction.

Talk about a learning curve. But the frightening part about it was that when walking in a big loop, what were the odds of stumbling upon our own camp. We could so easily have missed it, and never come to the realisation that we were heading in the wrong direction … in which case we could have ended up anywhere. We may very well have still been in there somewhere.

 

 


Hitch-Hiking

When I left school I just had to buy the fastest car I could afford … which wasn’t very much, and so because you get what you pay for, I had a lot of trouble with the damned thing breaking down.

On the rare occasion she was holding herself together that old V-8 was certainly fast. Although, the down-side to all that grunt was that due to doing too many spectacular burn-offs’ when drag racing, I stripped the cogs on first gear, and from then on always had to start in second.

But I’ll tell you what, she could still do wheelies on tar-seal … with smoke in all directions.   As impressive as all that was, the time spent off the road broken down put a dampener on owning such a beast.

One night I attended a party sixty K away at Hastings, when once again my car wouldn’t start so I had to leave it there.  And because I had to be at work next morning I decided to hitch-hike home.

I set off walking, and a thick fog set in.  When a car finally loomed up out of the murk I decided that standing out on the road trying to catch their attention could be dicing with death so flicked my cigarette lighter on and off to stop them.

There were two blokes in the front of this car.  I explained that I needed a ride to Waipawa so they said to hop in.  The only trouble is,  as I climbed into the back there was a Foxy in there, and it had been sick all over the seat. So I had to perch on the very front edge to avoid the mess.  I didn’t like to make a fuss about it. I just hoped that when they saw it next day they wouldn’t think it was me who had spewed all over their back seat.

Along the way the darned foxy kept trying to sit on my lap. There’s no way he was getting up there with the state his feet were in, after walking around in his own vomit.

After a pretty slow trip they dropped me off at Waipawa, but I still had twenty K to get home to our farm at Tikokino so decided to call a taxi and be done with.

I went to the phone box outside the Post Office, where you had to put two pennies in a slot to ring up — then when someone answered, you pushed button A to talk. Or if there was no reply, you pushed button B and the machine would spit your tuppence back out into a little tray.

There was no taxi office or anything like that. You just rang old Jim at home and he would come and get you.  Jim’s taxi was a two-tone 1957 Vauxhall Velox.

We set off at a crawl in that fog. And continued in crawl mode. Then at corners Jim would just inch his way round, and keep stopping to peer ahead. It was pitiful. I was just about tearing my hair out. When I couldn’t take it any more, I suggested he let me drive because I knew the road like the back of my hand. And was quite surprised when he agreed.

Well, once I was in the driver’s seat of that taxi, I proceeded to make up lost time. Old Jim is sitting bolt upright in the passenger’s seat, with his eyes sticking out on stalks, and both his arms stretched out in front of him, holding grimly to the dash-board.

To his credit, he didn’t say a word as we hurtled, what to him must have seemed blindly, through that pea-souper.

When we got to my place Jim got out of the passenger’s side, then staggered round and climbed into the driver’s seat. I stood and watched as the taxi lurched tentatively back towards town.

For quite some time later I could still hear him in the distance grinding along in first gear, stopping and starting.  God only knows what time he got home.

 

 

                           My 1955 Ford V-8 Customline 


 

The above sample chapters have been brutally abridged  (severely shortened)  here.

There are a total 27 chapters in the book.   All about life in general.

Including quite a bit of hunting stuff.   And some duck shooting.

Also fishing for spapper at Napier and Coromandel.

 

Can be ordered from all good Bookstores Nationwide.

BLIMMIN HECK:  Tales & Musings Of a Kiwi Bloke

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