Hunters Helping Hunters

Hunters Helping Hunters

Hunting and Wildlife Magazine - Spring Issue 222


Morgan Rogers (Hastings branch), Tim Taylor (BOP branch & NZDA North Island rep) and Callum Sheridan (Auckland branch & NZDA Vice President) stand ready to greet people.

As a nation we’re used to dealing with natural disasters but I think it would be fair to say that nobody expected Cyclone Gabrielle to hit so hard.

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association has three branches in the worst affected areas – Napier, Hastings and Wairoa and many of the members from these branches suffered significant losses. This had a direct impact on hunters, many of whom have spent a lifetime collecting equipment, only to find they now had nothing only 2 months before the roar.   

Only days after the cyclone we had a scheduled Board meeting in Wellington. With a nationwide membership of around 10,000 hunters we were keen to come up with a way to help but just weren’t exactly sure of the best way. A variety of ideas were debated and the central concepts that emerged were:

  1. Help should be targeted towards our members.
  2. Whatever we did should be achievable from our limited pool of resources.

We ultimately settled on the idea of donating hunting equipment, reasoning that this would directly benefit our hunters and would be something that the whole NZDA could get behind as many of us have a bin of unused gear sitting in our shed. The more we discussed it, the more it just felt like the right thing to do.

The call went out and the gear started rolling in. Initially it was a few items handed over at a club night, then it snowballed into boxes arriving daily. I had designated a spare bedroom as a storage area but it soon overflowed into the lounge and I had to ask my OCD partner to help build a spreadsheet to keep track of everything (she secretly loved it).

We had asked that the items were either quality used hunting clothing or hunting related equipment and we weren’t disappointed. I was constantly amazed when unloading a new box and finding brand new items with the tags still on. There were some very generous donations worth many hundreds of dollars and also some very quirky items which we had a quiet chuckle about. My favourite was a replica Burt Reynolds rubber vest (you know the one I mean) and the most intriguing was the selection of used men’s underwear.

The large collection of hunting clothing & equipment generously donated by NZDA members to support hunters affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

All donated items were offered to our NZDA members on a first come first served basis. We set the date as Saturday the 25th March and asked people to get in touch with Morgan Rogers from the Hastings Branch so we could gauge interest. Nearing the date we hadn’t heard much so we made the call to widen the scope and offered it to any hunters from the region who were in need which we felt would score a bit of goodwill within the community and we weren’t disappointed.

I’ll never forget the scene that confronted us as we drove through Esk Valley. It was a scene of total devastation – metres of silt covering everything, cars stuck in trees, houses completely torn apart. We were shocked and couldn’t imagine how the residents must feel. Carrying on to Morgan’s house it was strange. Some areas were completely unaffected, some appeared to have gotten off lightly, and others were totally buggered. Having previously worked as a winemaker in this region, it was heart-breaking to see the vineyards and orchards turned into a wasteland. 

We had received over 500 items of gear and, to put this into perspective, it filled both my ute and a box trailer (see the gear list further down for details). Due to the value of the gear and the obvious threat of opportunism, Morgan had made ‘appointment times’ for everyone who had got in touch and had established what they were looking for. Based on the information we’d received, we pre-packaged a lot of the gear and as people came in showed them what we had available and told them to either try things on or take what they thought would suit their whanau. Most people were reluctant to take much, and we were constantly handing out extra items. It was heartening to note that no one appeared greedy or tried to take advantage.

We also had a few people who had heard about the event and just came in so it was hard to gauge exactly how many people we helped but we estimate around 30-50 individuals.

Much of the gear was picked up by family members or friends as Kiwi pride meant a lot of blokes didn’t feel comfortable asking for help. One of the stories I’ll never forget is a fella that told us of having to locate his gun safe with a metal detector because his whole house was destroyed and a metre of silt covered the entire site. Another guy came in directly from a night out in the bush and asked if we had anything warm because the flood had taken everything he owned so he had just hunted and slept in his work uniform. We made sure to load him up with lots of spare layers and a nice new jacket. 

Morgan Rogers with a thankful recipient.

One of the unintended consequences of the day was giving people the chance to talk about their experiences of the cyclone. You could hear in people’s voices that they were only just holding things together and talking about it appeared to provide a small measure of relief. Morgan told us that they had recognized a similar trend at the Hastings Branch club nights with members turning up simply to have a yarn.

 It’s something I’m sure we’ve all seen at our branches and we should remember that NZDA plays an important role in our communities…sometimes we just need a place to chat.  

To finish things up I must say a huge thanks to everyone who donated gear and to those who helped to get it organised and delivered. I admit to having forgotten to write down which branches and individuals made donations but they were all greatly appreciated. There were a few standout people so gold stars go to:

  • Morgan Rogers from Hastings Branch for his tireless efforts in supporting hunters in his community.
  • Stuart Pollard from Whangarei Branch who drove a car full of kit 7 hours down to Tauranga.
  • Cameron Haliday from Auckland Branch who freighted gear at no cost.
  • Leighton Cosgrave from Radix Nutrition who gave an unsolicited donation of 150 packets of freeze-dried meals.

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