Shooting with RickbyEgmontGrigor2011©
The lithe and cutely breasted blonde, who fitted her jeans curvaceously, called loudly in a small bar in Central Otego in the South Island of New Zealand, "Where can a girl get some action around here?"
She was ignored by the twenty or so men in the bar because she was
4)And the guys were either married or in a relationship. The young bucks didn't arrive till after dark.
The motherly barmaid, drying a glass said, "Ducky these guys are New Zealanders and they like their women to talk quietly and be in the kitchen cooking or in bed with their legs open."
"Um I don't understand."
The barmaid pointed and said, "See that guy in the blue checked shirt with those two scruffy characters?"
"Go up to him politely and say, 'Rick will you take me out night-shooting?'."
"Omigod I love hunting."
The barmaid smiled, picking up yet another glass, "Then tell him that darling and offer him $300 for three nights shooting."
"Why three nights?"
"Because then he'll know you're serious."
The blonde thought for a moment.
"But how do you know that?"
"Darling, I'm his mom. Now don't waste any more time talking to me; talk to him. Remember be polite and don't be loud."
Lara Kennedy, from East Moline, 165 miles west of Chicago, Illinois, went up gingerly to the guy in blue.
"Excuse me Rick. I'm prepared to pay you one hundred a night to be in your company."
That statement went down like a lead balloon but the guys recovered.
"Fifty bucks and you can have me," said one of his companions with a bushy beard.
"No pay me $15 bucks a night that I'll refund if I find you completely satisfactory," said his pot-bellied companion.
The guy in the blue checked shirt said she had to be joking.
"I want three nights shooting varmints, that's all I asked and I'm not available for anything else."
Rick's companions lost interest and drifted off.
He asked, "Do you know who I am?"
"Yes you are Rick."
"Jesus," he winced. "I'm a professional rabitter."
"Oh you raise rabbits for the trade?"
"No sweet lady, I shoot bunny rabbits to kill them and I'm paid to do that."
"Omigod," Maxine said, and fainted from fatigue because she'd hiked 22 miles over rough terrain that day and had overlooked taking any food.
Rick being Rick of course caught her as she fell, saving her from damaging herself.
* * *
Lara woke up some time later, having no idea where she was.
"I smell burning. Oh no my room is on fire!"
"Oh hi," Rick drawled. "No worries. What you smell is a cabin wood fire. You are safe in my cabin."
Fully awake, Lara said uneasily, "How safe is safe?"
"Well you won't be feeling Fred's beard prickling into your tits or Jimmy's pot belly pressing against you stomach and he attempts to push his little dick into you, if that's what you mean."
"I... I... thank you for saving me."
"What? I need a pee."
"God, woman. I pushed you outdoors for two pees during the night. Don't you remember anything?"
"Do you know what time it is?"
"God woman, don't you know anything. It's 3:15 in the afternoon."
Lara groaned and scratched under an armpit and said it can't be.
She was told to check her watch.
Rick enjoyed that as if thinking she was just like a big kid.
"Obviously you are not a whisky drinker Lara. You said you were when we arrived here after collecting your backpack and signing you out of your motel last night. Okay over there to that door and don't pee on to the vegetable garden."
"We live close to nature out here lady. We don't foul the natural environment with toilets."
She came in cold and Rick handed her thick padded pants and a ski jacket and a 12 volt 35-watt headlamp with a motorcycle battery backpack.
"What will I use to shoot?"
"Lady you are an American tourist, but at least you are a backpacker," he said with a touch of respect. "You just accompany me, keep your mouth shut and observe."
"But I have been shooting varmints since I was four." (Liar, make that 14).
Rick looked impressed.
"Jesus, well I'll get you a pump action Remington 870 Express 20 gauge with a 26 in. barrel from the cabinet."
"Thanks, I suppose you use the Wingmaster?"
"Yes," Rick said, looking surprised. "And I also use a German over and under I like for sports shooting."
"My dad and my brother do too. They swear by the Wingies."
Rick said right, he'd cook breakfast and hot lunch as one meal. They needed to leave an hour before sunset.
"What will you cook"?
He said curry and rice and she said that ought to be okay. Even a Bunny could cook that.
He grinned watching her walk out wearing only panties and a bra.
"Walk out in my boots," he said. "But don't pee in them."
He smiled when he heard her giggle.
* * *
They drove out in an old black open Jeep.
"This is a Jeep isn't it?"
"Yeah my trusty CJ-7. It was my dad's and he had it rebuilt and lifted for better ground clearance and tyres replaced with 35-inches. He then gave her to me two years ago when I began thinking of becoming a night rabbiter."
"Omigod that's the legendary Jeep but it's dirty."
Rick muttered Jesus and they roared off and left the dirty track at an alarming angle and he yelled there was no need to cling on for dear life.
"I'm sitting on the wrong side for a passenger."
"Then get out and go back to America."
She gritted and said she could cope.
"Sit on your arse lightly and move your body as if riding a horse. God girl don't you know anything?"
"Asshole," Dana muttered.
Dana thought, well she had wanted adventure and perhaps this is what she was getting. Perhaps Assholes provided the best adventures?
The ground was so dry, not unlike a desert but there were sheep grazing.
"Why are we not driving on a road?"
"Because our mission is to shoot rabbits. We can drove along a road and shoot them but we won't see many. Our job is to go where they are thickest and wipe them all out, well at least most of them."
"Because they eat grass and other vegetation and can change this tussock and grass land into wasteland."
"Because they chew down to the roots. Sheep and cattle chew off the tops."
"Well a little bunny is not going to each much."
"If I were to tell you 10 adult rabbits each as much as an adult ewe you wouldn't believe me, would you?"
"Well I might."
"God a blonde with brains."
She could have hit him.
"It's the proliferation of rabbits that's the problem. It's dry here in central Otago, with the land shielded from prevailing weather from the west by the Southern Alps. During mild winters the rabbit population booms."
"So you shoot them."
The landowners poison them but that's very costly.
She was ignored.
"Poison called 1080, also known as sodium monofluoroacetate..."
"Spell that for me please."
"Get stuffed. The poison is dropped by aircraft and kills of 90% or even more can be achieved if everything goes right and it's up to me and other bounty hunters like me to get that kill close to 100 percent. But it's an uphill battle."
Rick chopped down a couple of gears to drop down into a shallow ravine and then down another cog to climb up the other side, the straight-six motor roaring healthily and they ground up the other side.
"There's a boulder, it will rip out your gearbox."
"No it's okay but only just. This vehicle was lifted during the rebuilt."
Rick asked theoretically how many babies could Lara produce in a year.
She thought, god he wants to have sex but she answered one or two in the case of twins.
He said, "In good conditions just one female rabbit can produced thirty or more babies in a year and the offspring is sexually active within three to four months."
"Omigod and therein is the problem."
"Yeah and I often manage to shoot two with one cartridges when the bastards are fucking."
Dana felt sick.
"Can't someone castrate the males?"
She had to grab the wheel as they breasted the slope because Rick was laughing so much that he was almost falling out of the doorless vehicle.
Wiping his eyes he said thanks.
"Here's a statistic for you. In 1924 New Zealand shopped seventeen million rabbit skins to Britain. Everything has been tried and the numbers have been reduced significantly over the decades but in a few parts of the South Island like here they remain a pest. In 1999 it was estimated the loss of annual livestock production on farms due to rabbits was estimated at fifty million bucks, but that did not include the significant loss of grazing land due to erosion from being denuded and pastureland that will never revert back to grass."
"Gee that puts my mind into perspective. Um why is this huge island called the South Island?"
"Because it lies directly south of the North Island."
"Oh... and so that means the North Island lies..."
"Yeah, not bad comprehension for a blonde. You know I'm surprised you had the guts to sleep in the cabin with me and to come out here alone with me."
"I took the risk and I do know your mother."
"You know my mother? But you only spoke to her for one minute in the bar yesterday afternoon?"
"I know. But I was feeling a bit homesick and she spoke to me like a mother."
In opening up like that, Lara had expected to be teased mercilessly but in fact he drove on, looking straight ahead. God he was so unpredictable.
"Oh look she screamed, a rabbit."
"Then shoot it."
"My shotgun is in the rack behind us."
"Thank goodness for that," he said. "We are not shooting on this property today. Each of my three station owners requires me to advise when I will be shooing on their land."
"Is a station an alternative word for ranch?"
"Lara you really are a discredit to blondes who value their dumb-blonde reputation. Yes and in this case they are very big ranches. This one we are crossing now is 33,350 acres and the next property where we will be shooting is 54,690 acres and the third is 68,700 acres. I have a contract with these station owners to shoot on each property six times a month for five months from late autumn which is now. They share the cost based on acreage and for my work over five months that averages four hours a night plus travel, I'll receive $32,000 gross. I have to cover my expenses."
"Wow being paid for something you love doing."
"Yeah well with a commitment to shoot a total of 18 nights a month I have flexibility to choose which nights I shoot. That allows me to miss heavy snow and strong winds. We don't get much rain up here and that's me rabbits populate so heavily in this district. Poisoning costs them somewhere between $32 to $40 an acre so you can see with me shooting for secondary clearance is damn cheap in comparison. My role is to kill the rabbits that escape being fatally poisoned and to try to keep the inevitable population increase down."
"Well here we are at a rabbit-proof fence along the boundary line between two of the properties. Open the gate please love and close it securely."
Rick stopped the vehicle and did up a loaded cartridge belt and handed one to Lara when she came up to the Jeep.
"Number 6 cartridges?"
He said yes. Fill your jacket pockets as well.
"Why how many rabbits will we shoot at."
"At least sixty."
"Omigod that's a slaughter."
He said yeah, that the only good rabbit where they were was a dead rabbit."
"Look for the eyes of the rabbit and shoot at them. You walk just off from me and shoot any rabbit you see on the left and up to the middle line between us. That will mean we won't shoot each other. If you get tired and wish to vomit because of the slaughter tell me."
Taking a deep breath, Lara said she'd be okay.
"Do we have to remove the bodies?"
"No the landowner will send the kids or one of his shepherds to count bodies tomorrow. The bigger the total of dead rabbits the happier everyone will be."
"I can see rabbits."
"Okay keep relaxed. Don't shoot till we are ready. These rabbits will be gun shy but they still like popping back up to take a look at what's happening."
Rick handed her a wool cap like his that covered down to his eyebrows and over his ear plugs. He also handed her ear plugs.
"God this will make me unattractive."
"Yeah will we can have sex when we get back. This is war."
She hesitated and said, "So you have been thinking of having sex with me?"
"Yeah, most of the time."
She thought wow and said, "Me too, especially since food took away my hangover."
"Do you like sex?" he asked.
"It's okay," said the 26-year old.
They began walking forward and Rick said, "Don't shoot people or dogs or sheep. There are supposed to be no sheep on this block but sometimes strays appear. Oh sheep are white and woolly."
"Oh thanks," she said sarcastically.
They switched on their headlamps strapped around their foreheads and looped back just above their ears.
Lara shot one rabbit to her left and another that hopped over the body and then one a bit more to the right.
"Good shooting for an intelligent great-looking butt blonde," Rick said, and fired twice and two rabbits dropped. "Get used to firing from in the range of twenty to 35-yards. Trying to shoot any more than 35-yards increases the chances of missing. It's economical to kill one rabbit for each firing, or two if we catch them fucking."
They added cartridges to their gun magazines and walked on. The rabbits had disappeared.
"Why don't you say having sex is only all right?" he whispered.
She was astounded he was on about that rather than talking about the task in hand.
"Where are the rabbits?"
"Busy outsmarting us by laying low. So we just stop and wait.
"I seem to have trouble finding excellent lovers."
He ignored that, saying, "Bugs and Jenny Bunny are having sex just to you far left.
His spotlight caught them and she said she couldn't and he said shoot them.
She shot them and both fell.
"Omigod, it seems so cruel. I should have waited till Bugs finished."
"Yeah and he would have been so grateful you silly twit."
She had to laugh. He was so cruel and yet could make fun out of it.
"Shooting them fully of lead is a more humane way of exterminating them than poisoning them."
"Oh yes, I hadn't thought of that. Well that was probably a potential litter of whatever number eliminated before they could eat a blade of grass. Someone had to do it; it may as well be her. This was so different. Normally she'd only shot game to eat.
After ninety-minutes, Rick said to Lana, "How many?"
"Good girl. We'll keep you on. Thirty-six for me so we'll end up with a big number tonight. Here point your barrel down and take this."
"A candy bar, not thanks. That rubbish makes people fat."
"The night cold will sap your energy and therefore your concentration which means you'll begin to miss targets."
"Oh yeah, right. Give me two."
"Now you go back slowly to the Jeep, shooting as you go but for fuck sake don't shoot the Jeep. You won't see so many but the ones you do shoot will be really worthwhile because in all probability they are the crafty ones."
"I have no idea where the Jeep is."
"Well we are in open country and the land generally slopes down to the Jeep that is parked on a big of a rise and I left the parking lights on. If you do too far to the left you'll come to the rabbit-proof fence. If you miss the Jeep and can determine you are still going down the slope you'll come to the lower boundary rabbit proof fence. So walk to the left..."
"And walk back along the second fence and I'll come to a gate and will see the tail lights of the Jeep."
"Yeah, very good Blondie."
"And if I lose direction what then?"
"You'll probably fall into a ravine and die. If you screw up and come back uphill..."
"Oh god, you'll shoot me."
"Only if you have rabbits eyes at the height of rabbits eyes darling."
"I want to stay with you."
Rick chuckled. "No you were looking for adventure and this is it. Just do it. Your target is to shoot and kill twelve rabbits on the way back and for you to find the Jeep before you find either of the two fences... er or a ravine. Do you accept the challenge?"
"Yes. God just you wait till I get you to cross a street in Chicago during rush hour."
"Baby there is no way you'd ever get me into a city in American with more than 2000 people. Two thousand Americans are all I would be capable of coping with."
Lara shook her head and used a Kiwi (New Zealand) uncouth expression: "Cheeky shit."
He laughed and she began her return telling herself not to panic. Rick reckoned she was intelligent so she must do it intelligently. If she became lost she could sleep among the dead rabbits and he'd find her after dawn.
"Rick Chambers you asshole," she spat.
Lara shot fifteen rabbits on the way back and it would have been sixteen had the last one she spotted in her lamp been not been eating beside the front tyre of the Jeep. She'd seen the lights before she saw the rabbit and was only ho-hum about finding the Jeep. She'd kept a lookout and whenever she saw a dead rabbit she knew she was on the right route.
She settled into her seat and wished he'd given her the keys and she could have listened to music.
She heard two shotgun blasts reasonably close so guessed Rick must be on the way back, that is if he managed to find the Jeep. She had a sudden thought and found the keys in the ignition. Yeah will who'd steal a vehicle parked a zillion miles from nowhere. This babe was a survivor and already knew her way around this foreign land.
She was surprised to find the music matched her taste. Asshole was old, at least thirty.
Suddenly his light blinded her and she jumped almost a foot into the air.
"Jesus you asshole."
"Sorry. How many?"
"Fifteen kills, only two misses."
She told him about spotting the sixteenth rabbit but the front wheel and that she didn't shoot at it but Asshole crouched down obviously looking for pellets embedded in the tyre."
"Oh here's bunny poo. So you weren't lying."
She could have strangled the jerk.
He walked to the back of the jeep laughing, having heard her whispered abusive language. He arrived back with two cans of beer and a pack of chicken sandwiches that had thawed.
"I don't drink beer or anything but natural fruit juice and red wine."
"Professional hunters finish the shoot by drinking beer."
She cracked open a can and took a big gulp, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and said with her fake New Zealand accent, "Not a bad drop."
"Yeah. You know baby our tally for tonight is amazing, ninety-three."
"Oh good but you must have suspected that. We are not fucking amateurs."
She couldn't really catch his expressed but he had been left speechless and his eyes practically popped.
Rick took another route uphill on the first station and after half a mile turned to the right inside an internal fence line to exit on to a dirt road and they returned to the cabin fairly quickly.
"Um Rick would you mind if we went without sex tonight? I need a bath to be at my best and..."
"We'll go into town and take a room in the motel where you were staying. It's owned by our family trust as is the bar where we met and we also operate the best restaurant in town but that's closed now, it's 11:30. I'll get the motel night manager to do us bacon and eggs with toast, is that okay?"
"Yes but no bread for me."
"Right and I don't want you getting fat either. We'll stay at the motel and spend all day, or most of the day in bed and next day we'll go into the foothills after wild deer. Mom has asked me to get venison for the restaurant and a wild goat if we can."