How Do You Capture a Live Rabbit? – Glen Rock Station

“A Mish a Day” #180 Carraghmore Station. Glen Rock. MacKenzie Country. 9.8.2009. Back to the battlefront for our native birds with Ray, and this time public enemy number one is Mr Rabbit, and his huge extended Whanau. The two locations for the field work with Ray and John couldn’t have been any more different in appearance. We went from the lush green forest covered mountains of Whataroa on the West Coast, to the bare and barren burnt yellow hills of the MacKenzie Country.

Our base this time was at an old musterer’s hut on Carraghmore Station, a high country station in the heart of the MacKenzie Country at the foot of the rolling hills of the Rollesby Range. The principle of the job was the same as in Whataroa, counting animal numbers before and after the dispersal of bait in the area, and once again the job was in a visually stunning location. Day one of eight had us surveying farm paddocks for rabbit numbers by clearing an area of about a square foot of any rabbit scat (poop), and marking the spot with a small marker pole. As it was August, the ground was in a state of permafrost which froze everything to the ground, and I had to use a spade to chip and scrape away the frozen ground so each little square was completely clear of scat, and would give a good idea of the rabbit numbers in the area. The next job began at dusk as we had to gather live rabbits to attach GPS trackers to, so we could monitor the animals’ movements around the farm.

“How do you catch a live rabbit? ” was a question I asked myself as soon as I found out I was about to partake in the task. We were joined by the Station Manager, and in his two-seater Toyota Hilux Ute the four of us headed into the darkness of the night. The set up was John on the back with a spotlight, and Ray on an old mattress, holding a rug ready to pounce on the unsuspecting volunteers of our mission. And finally I was in the front seat navigating and recording the catch locations. The next couple of hours were similar to a roller-coaster, as the little truck jumped all over the hillside paddocks in pursuit of our speedy targets. I knew how gnarly the terrain was from setting up my scat markers earlier in the day, and that didn’t seem to slow down the confident driving skills of the Station Manager, as we began to build our collection of live rabbits in sacks on the front seat of the truck. We completed the job at around 3am, and were happy to get back to the hut, stoke up the fire, and get some sleep. The next couple of days we headed to the expanses of top paddocks near Manahuna/MacKenzie Pass, and each time were treated to an epic sunrise on Aoraki/Mt Cook, and his snow capped mountain brothers. Although this area was easily the coldest spot of the winter, the view while enjoying a hot brew at each smoko break not only warmed the belly, but also the soul. Sadly this would be my last job with Ray for the 2009 winter, and after he went over all the numbers we had gathered over the last week working around Glen Rock, he told me the results were: inconclusive… again!

Aoraki/Mt Cook(3724m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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