Opening Weekend in an Isuzu D-Max

Mabo, Bruce, Dave and Lucy looking forward to hunting

Mabo, Bruce, Dave and Lucy looking forward to hunting

This weekend has been the opening of the game bird season. With mild, warm weather and clear skies,duck hunters will have had small bags.

I’m not a big fan of duck shooting, but much prefer going after pheasants and quail. It is a real pleasure hunting with dogs as well.

On Friday night I headed off to an undisclosed location in the Taupo region for go after pheasants and quail. As usual I am travelling in my Isuzu D-Max from Southern Autos.

It may well have been a challenge as the new model I have currently came equipped with road tyres only. More on that later.   


The Isuzu D-Max at the lunch stop…with some of the morning’s hunt.

Opening morning was warm, with a small bit of fog and quickly there were three pheasants in the back of the truck from the get go. We then moved into quail country. This property has a reputation for large and constant coveys of quail.

Due to the warm weather though it seems they were holding in tight and we were finding flushes were small. Still the dogs were working hard and we found more than a few pheasants.

My mate had a Toyota Hilux SR5 with dirt tires and he thought he would leave me behind on some of the farm access areas. This included our lunch stop atop a hill, with a wet grassy climb to the top to the view over a river valley. His Hilux was wheel spinning and the back end going squirrelly up the slope. Simon reckoned we’d be fine and we dropped down to low range due to the road tires. We ate that hill effortlessly, certainly with far more ease than the Hilux. There were other parts where we performed way better than the Hilux.

I am continually impressed with the off-road and the on-r0ad capabilities of the Isuzu D-Max. The boys from Southern Autos have a great truck here and more people should be giving them a call to look at replacing their other less capable trucks.

Back to the hunting part. This property is spectacular and all day we got hints of what it could produce. At about 3pm James had spotted a couple of cock pheasants on another ridge just after he had jumped out of the truck, misfired due to no round being in the breech, racked the bolt then ironed out a pheasant at 50yds as it flew away with Number 7.5 quail load. That Gun City target load, normally used on clays or for quail was ironing out pheasants all day. It is very good and I highly recommend it.

We headed off to stalk those pheasants and 30 minutes later they were both dead and in the back of the D-Max. The dogs were knackered, Mabo was exhausted, Dave and Bruce tuckered out and Lucy was a princess as ever. We decided to call it a day when James spotted “10 or 15 quail” on a small knoll.

Ever keen we decided to give it another crack, and got the dogs off the truck one last time for the day. We plotted and planned and set up around the knoll. Simon went high with the dogs, James and I spread out in the clear below a wooded face and Dave and Tony went around the corner to cover egress to cover. Quail like to flush to cover and the only way they could go was past James and me and then around past Dave and Tony. Simon and the dogs flushed the covey, it was enormous, like a grey cloud rising out of the woods and sure enough they went around the end of the knoll looking for cover and past me and James. We quickly emptied our guns, just firing at the cloud of birds. Who knows how many there were, but certainly more than 100 birds. Dead quail rained down and then they flew around the other end of the knoll into the waiting guns of Tony and Dave. They emptied their guns too and we set about putting the dogs into the the retrieve. It was a real rush and finished off a brilliant day.

Simon and me with the dogs and the efforts of the afternoon

Simon and me with the dogs and the efforts of the afternoon

Today is another day and we look forward to getting onto some more of those massive coveys.
The Isuzu D-Max just keeps on going and hasn’t let me down yet.

While hunting I came up with a brilliant strap line for some ads…”Isuzu D-Max, helping hunters score loads of birds”

Southern Autos logo


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  • cows4me

    Not many Quail around here these days, not enough cover, but plenty of pheasants on the farm, hoping they’ll breed up. Bags have been small, two mates got sixteen between them yesterday. Don’t worry about the first week, wait for the excitement to die down and refuse to pay $92 to shoot a bloody duck.

    • We had coveys of over 100 birds flush on us…awesomeness…makes the 4 shot Remington a little hungry

      • cows4me

        Wow what great hunting and some nice eating to be had to, what’s a bit of ammo with game like that.

  • Looks like I’ll be a pheasant plucker with a pheasant plucker’s son.

    • Time to educate myself

    • spanishbride

      I’ll be plucking hard out for while I think. Mum loves quail and it looks like there a lot there to pluck.They will be a late Mother’s day present.

      • I watched the video and it really looks worth a try to avoid the plucking stage.

      • kehua

        I know a lady at Puhoi who will willingly come out and pick up any pheasant feathers, she uses them to make school korowai for kapa haka .

        • spanishbride

          We are on the North Shore, Whangaparaoa. The tail feathers have already been given away to be used for fly tying but I would be happy to put the rest into a bag for her.You or she can use the whaleoil e-mail to contact me to arrange pick up or possibly arrange for me to post them to her.

    • Nige.

      The best kind of plucking is pheasant.

      At least your not plucking duck like last year.

  • rexabus

    Has anyone driven a mahindra? Curious whether they drive as bad as they look

  • Miss McGerkinshaw

    Whilst I didn’t enjoy seeing the pictures of the dead birds hypocrite that I am I enjoy eating the finished product.
    However I LOVED the pic with the dogs and their eager faces, so excited and keen to get going. That’s what they are bred for and I enjoy the thought of them doing their ‘job’ and not sitting in some backyard somewhere to be taken for a walk round the block if they are lucky.

  • JKV

    Those labradors are gorgeous – love that pic! Sounds as though you all had a great day. Envious – just love pheasant.

  • kehua

    Great time of the year to be in a great part of NZ during an exceptional autumn. No doubt you will be coming back physically knackered, mentally recharged and emotionally wanting to get back down there as soon as ya can.