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The call of the wild

In early July 2020, under the Covid-19 crisis, we decided to go out and do a waterfowl shoot in the Napier area in the Western Cape. We stayed on a farm that has several great dams and attracts a fast variety of waterfowl and field birds, like the Blue crane and guinea fowl. There had been a bit of rain, so we knew the dams were full, the fields were green, and the birds were around.

We arrived on Friday afternoon, with just enough time for us to hit the blind before the sunset. Once the blind was set up and the decoys were out, we sat and waited for the sound of an Egyptian Goose call, or a Spurwing Goose flying overhead.

The day started slow, but before we knew it, we had 3 Spurwing geese flying up the valley, and with only a few seconds, Pierre managed to execute a perfect shot on the lead bird, bringing it into a tuck and fall. It was then that we knew we could be in for a good few days!

The following hours were, unfortunately, less exciting. We had a few yellow-billed ducks come close, but not close enough. The bird we were after, the Egyptian goose, was nowhere to be found, there were a few in the distance, but their sharp eyes picked us out long before we knew they were around. We ended the day on the high that we knew we had one bird in the bag, and that we were not going hungry that night!

We woke before dawn the next day, made a fresh cup of coffee to warm us from the cold winter air, and sat around the fire as we planned for a full day in the blind. Since we had extra gear for filming, we decided to drive closer to the dam. This turned out to be a mistake, as a tractor has previously driven the muddy road, and had dug some deep trenches, which meant we had a stuck truck. This was not how we wanted to start our day, but optimism was high, and we were excited either way. We got to the blind just as the sun was cresting the horizon, and felt comfortable in the thought that the delay hadn't meant blowing out the blind.

The day started a little slow; we saw birds in the distance flying to other dams and had a combine harvester working the fields nearby which wasn't helping. It was only around 10 am when our luck started to change, and we had some action! We were on, the ducks were out, the geese were calling, but we were missing them. We couldn't understand what was going on, but later, only after watching the footage, did we realize our lead was a little long. We managed to pull ourselves together though, and after a couple of misses, our eyes were in, and we saw a few ducks fall.

Our dam slowed down by lunchtime, and we decided to call it a day and instead go cook some of the spoils for lunch. After a few hours of struggling with a stuck truck, we got some assistance from the farm. Covered in mud and ashamed of our fail, we were hungry and decided that we would remove some of the hearts and livers of the birds to make a light lunch.

We sliced up the offal and pan-fried it for a few minutes with some garlic. We then flambéed it with a little bit of local fynbos gin and let the alcohol burn off. We added a handful of chopped spring onions and let them cook down for a few minutes, and served it with some fresh sourdough bread.

All in all the weekend was a success, and after a few months of hard lockdown, it was great to get out into the fresh air, sit around the fire, and share some good company.

Watch the full video here

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