Pongaroa main-street was packed to capacity at lunchtime on Sunday 8th April as a steady stream of pickup trucks and trailers pulled into town loaded with red deer, fallow deer, wild boar, goat heads, possums, hares and rabbits.
Easter 2012 marked the second Pongaroar Open Hunt and what a success it was. Entries this year were almost double the 2011 numbers with 134 senior and 80 junior hopefuls. There were abundant signs of the good growing season we have seen, as the deer carcasses were brought in to be hung on the scaffold frame outside the Pongaroa Hotel. Animal size was up on last year and carcass and coat condition was excellent. Once the weigh-in was closed, hunters and spectators alike were able to enjoy a pint at the hotel while results were compiled. To accompany the drinks, a lunch was provided by the Pongaroa Early Years pre-school team, with funds going to support this important community facility.
Despite the huge increase in numbers over last year, the competition, which ran from the morning of Friday 6th through until last weigh-in at 3pm on Sunday, went without a hitch.
Local hunters Dave Kirk and Michael Hart, joint founders of the event, have many years of hunting and organisational skills between them. Putting these skills to good use, the competition rules were well defined with safety always at the forefront.
It was good to see so many younger hunters learning the ropes in such a well managed way as they proudly strung the results of their weekend efforts along the hotel railings. There were rabbits, hares and possums from one end of the fence to the other, attesting to the bush skills of the youngsters of the Pongaroa district.
By 4.30pm, the results had been confirmed and prize giving commenced. Dave Kirk began by thanking all of the many sponsors for their support. Without these supporters, important rural community events such as the Pongaroar could not take place.
First up for prizes were the young hunters, 16 years and under. Winners and those who were placed in the junior hunt categories received their rewards. Clothing packs from Hunting and Fishing, vouchers and a variety of hunting accessories were given out to the successful competitors. Once this was complete, spot prizes were awarded to all of the junior entrants.
Judging of the seniors followed, with handsome trophies carved into Totara logs accompanying the winner's prizes. The formalities were rounded off with a raffle draw, top prizes including a 30-30 rifle for senior raffle winner and a $100 dollar voucher for the junior raffle, both donated by Hunting and Fishing Manawatu. The final raffle prize was a set of quad bike tyres donated by Hewitts Motorcycles.
Close to 400 people enjoyed a sunny afternoon swapping hunting stories and generally catching up with their neighbours in the relaxed atmosphere. As usual, Pongaroa turned on the hospitality for young and old alike.
Results of the 2nd Pongaroar Open Hunt Easter 2012:
Best Red Stag Men - Duncan Wynn 134kg
Best Red Stag Women - Carolyn Te Huia 112.5kg
Best Fallow Stag - Peter Billington 71kg
Heaviest Boar Men - James Mack 92kg
Best Tusks – James Mack
Heaviest Boar Women – Amy Hale 62kg
Best Red Deer Head - Daniel Kiihfuss
Average Weight Boar - Hamish Barrett & Matthew Raleigh 50.5kg
Average Weight Red Stag - Mark Brighouse & Jeff Bryan 95.5kg
Heaviest Boar - Hunter Brighouse 33.8kg
Best Goat Head - Dylan Moore 98cm
Heaviest Possum - Josh Thomas 4.41kg
Heaviest Hare - Allie Berry 3.98kg
Heaviest Rabbit - Molly Timothy 2.04kg