Ray Moffat, of Cromwell, prepares for the 20th Great Easter
Bunny Hunt, which begins in Central Otago tomorrow. Mr
Moffat, who has worked full-time as a rabbiter for the past
year, is one of the few shooters involved in all 20 hunts.
Photo by Lynda Van Kempen.
Cromwell rabbiter Ray Moffat has shot 23,000 rabbits in
the past year - the same number shot in 24 hours by competitors
in the 2010 Great Easter Bunny Hunt.
Mr Moffat and his Southern Hopper Stoppers team will be
lining up with 46 other teams to take part in this year's
hunt, which begins tomorrow.
Event convener Dave Ramsay, of Alexandra, who organises the
event on behalf of the Alexandra Lions Club, said it was the
highest number of teams for more than a decade and demand was
so high, 16 teams were balloted out.
"Each team has 12 shooters, so that means we've got 564
hunters, plus their entourage, the `picker-uppers', the
cooks, the supporters, heading out on to farms throughout
Central Otago to do battle with the rabbits."
Properties from the Lindis, through to Lake Hayes, St Bathans
and Ettrick will be the focus of the hunters' work, and a
ballot, drawn under police supervision tomorrow morning, will
determine which block is allocated to each team.
"There's no shortage of rabbits. There's been plenty of food
for them and they have been breeding like ... well, like
rabbits, " Mr Ramsay said.
Hunters come from all over New Zealand; Gisborne, Auckland
and Taranaki shooters joining teams from Canterbury,
Southland and coastal Otago.
Although the event carries total prize money of $3500, the
most sought-after prize was the trophy for the top team.
Mr Moffat has taken part in every Easter Bunny Hunt. The
first year he entered, his team consisted of volunteer
firemen from Wyndham. Then, after he shifted, it evolved into
a team of mostly dairy farmers. For the past eight years it
has been called the Southern Hopper Stoppers.
He moved from Southland to Cromwell a year ago "funnily
enough, to become a full-time rabbiter, so it's my day job
now as well".
His team has 12 shooters and "hanger-onners", bringing the
number up to about 40.
"There's two cooks, picker-uppers and gate openers in that
"And when it comes to the ballot for blocks, I'm hoping like
hell I don't get one of the stations I usually shoot on,
because there won't be many bunnies on it."
Teams shoot throughout the night and have to be back in
Pioneer Park by noon on Saturday to have their haul counted