Pest Control In New Zealand

With Jonathan Scott

I love pest control here in New Zealand, there is always plenty of quarry available offering some of the finest and freshest meat. My main targets are rabbits, possums and hares with the odd feral-wild cat thrown in. Thankfully we don't have foxes.

Possums are a pest species here, they eat the native bush and the two main control methods are trapping (and the fur is purchased for garment making) and poisoning using 1080 (which is a horrible way to die). The fur-trapping industry earns nearly $160million per year in exports and is a profitable way to eliminate a widespread pest. I mostly hunt them on local farms where they predate upon fruit trees, nut trees, vineyards and popular garden bushes such as roses. I pluck their fur when warm and harvest it for sale later, the average price ranges from $100-150 per kg, though it takes a lot of possums to make it worthwhile.

There is an abundance of hares here in Canterbury, New Zealand. It has always been a favorite of mine as the meat is very tasty. I harvest the back steaks (which on some hares are as big as the inner loins of a young fallow deer), and the back legs. These make a very substantial family meal in the slow cooker as a casserole or a pie.

Winter is the time of year that feral cat numbers increase. Farms on the edge of towns start to see them coming around, as cat breeding season ends up with unwanted litters. Town people tend to drive out of the suburbs and drop them off somewhere. Eventually the kittens that survive end up heading towards farms for food, and the wild ones will predate upon chickens and any other native birds.

My two guns of choice at this time of year are my Norinco JW-15 in 22LR, and my Marlin 917V in 17HMR.

The 22 wears a 4-12x42 Mildot scope by Nikko Stirling. This is sighted for 50m using Winchester 42gr subsonic ammunition. The 17HMR wears a 4-16x44 Nikko with Mildots, sighted in at 100m using CCI 20gr gamepoint ammunition.

Both these tools are suppressed (a moderator in UK parlance) and I fit them with a powerful LED torch or two. I have a barrel mounted red LED torch on the 22, which I use for spooky rabbits, as they don't seem to run away from the light compared to a white light. Both rifles also have a Maxtoch brand M24 XM-L LED torch, each powered by 2x 18650 batteries. These have been de-domed and are good for good shots to 200m, with animal eyes indicating at 400+m. This torch is scope mounted. My longest night shots might be 100-150m maximum with the HMR, and the 22 is good for 50m but I prefer these big LED torches because I can see what is behind my target. It’s important when hunting on farms to be able to determine if the eyes spotted are the farmer’s pet cat, a sheep or cow or a pest rabbit.

Mostly I shoot on Friday nights if I'm going to be out late, it gives me Saturday to clean my truck, ATV and rifles. I process my meat for the freezer, and sometimes a local family gets some.

I enjoy being out on a clear, frosty winter night, out of the suburbs and enjoying some of the best night-skies and star displays anywhere in the world.