An Audience with Sir Huntalot

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I set about tracking down Geordie Murman with the intention of having a quick chat about hunting. Anyone who knows Geordie, or me for that matter, would assume the ‘quick’ part of the plan was the most ambitious. It took stealth, patience and persistence to bail up this good keen bloke, but I finally managed to do it. Confident that it wouldn’t take long to find out what Bambi did to deserve Geordie Murman, I was sure I’d have our local hunting legend tagged and released by lunchtime.

Eight hours later, I was looking round for the dehydrated remains of young wannabe Crumps. It’s not that Geordie isn’t generous with his knowledge and experience – he is – but hunting stories are just the by-catch of a conversation that will only ever be about conservation.

Geordie has spent his life straddling the fence between the wants of primary industry and the need to preserve New Zealand’s precious fauna and flora.

Like many Leigh lads, Geordie started work on fishing boats but by 1979 found himself on Little Barrier trapping cats for the Wildlife Service. He went on to become a Wildlife Manager, specialising in endangered bird species on offshore islands.

Geordie’s love of native birds takes flight when he talks about his time in the Chatham Islands, but a change of direction saw him take on the adventure of commercial diving.

Fishing brought him back to Leigh and to his old stomping ground, Mount Tamahunga, which was by then severely degraded by feral ex-farm goats.

In 2004 and for the next three years Geordie set about hunting down every single goat – 1340 in total. Ten years later, Geordie’s legacy is self-evident. The vital next layer of native plants and are now well above head height.

Geordie introduces me to the young saplings as if they were his mokopuna. The teenage totara, puriri and rewarewa are racing upwards and will, one day, stand alongside their giant guardians.

With Tamahunga on the mend, Geordie now hunts full-time as a deer control contractor for D.O.C / Auckland Council. His mission is to eradicate deer from protected bush and private covenanted bush blocks. Deer regularly escape from local farms or drift out of Woodhill Forest, posing a serious threat to native bush reserves, including Waitakere and Hunua Ranges.

What really gets Geordie’s goat are the recreational hunters and corporates intent on using our native bush reserves as their own private pantry. They’re keen for them to stay stocked with goats, pigs and deer, with no concern for the devastation these animals wreak on our native flora and fauna.

If Geordie Murman had me in his sights… I’d be nervous.