Elusive critters steer clear of scavenger hunt

John Cuttance
John Cuttance
Rats are not a typical treasure hunt item, unless the scavenge is being held at Waipiata.

During the weekend, the Waipiata Country Hotel Dirty Dozen Critter Hunt was back in full swing, after having been put off last year.

More than 30 hunters from throughout the Maniototo took part in the annual critter hunt. Competitors had to bring back 12 listed animals (dead or alive) to the local hotel within two days from Friday night.

This year's list, kept secret until the last minute, comprised a rabbit, turkey, rat, live yabby, wild pig, ferret or stoat, hedgehog, Canadian goose, goat, five maggots, a grass grub, and a magpie.

By 2pm yesterday, the pub was packed with seven teams of four, each proudly bearing their bounty, as well as supporters and curious spectators.

Children under 12 years also took part in a slightly less bloody treasure hunt. Their list included a live mouse, night beetle, chocolate fish, live baby rabbit, live worm, five maggots, a moth, spider, animal biscuit, frog, starling, and a hedgehog.

Organiser and Waipiata Country Hotel publican John Cuttance said this year's turnout was slightly better than in previous competitions. The first critter hunt was held in 2002.

Since then some rules have had to be fashioned, as people tried their luck with more liberal approaches to finding animals. These days all animals have to be identifiable, not frozen or thawed, and none are to be poached from a farmer's paddock unless otherwise arranged.

Mr Cuttance said this year Canadian geese and rats proved hard to find, with only one team out of seven finding either critter.

Two teams managed to find 11 of the 12 listed animals, and a winner was decided in a "traditionally Maniototo" way, Mr Cuttance said.

"We had a nominee from each team arm wrestle one another to settle it," he said.

From throughout the Maniototo, the Bone Smugglers, comprising Tony Steele, Tony Kearney, Malcolm Helm, and Steve Dougherty, took pride of place with a Waipiata Country Hotel Dirty Dozen Critter Hunt trophy.

"The same guys won the last hunt as well," Mr Cuttance said.

Their smaller counterparts fared a little better with two Patearoa boys managing to complete the whole list. The Patearoa Poachers, Jamie McDonald and George Hall, claimed a trophy and donated prizes.


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