::: TASTES OF TASMANIA

Flushed by success

BY GRAEME PHILLIPS | Eight shooters are lined about 30m apart along a marshy hollow stretching up and around a dam. A small stream cascades down the hill in front. A light mist wisps through the trees. Only the soft patter of rain falling in the dam breaks the silence.

On the facing hillside figures dressed in fluorescent vests move slowly upwards through the undergrowth and trees, stopping, starting again, from the distance a silent pantomime of hands clapping in front of them.

Behind them stand the bag men, dogs by their sides trembling, straining their leashes in anticipation.

Unseen on the other side of the hill is a similar ring of beaters, pushing pheasants in front of them, the two rings, coordinated by walkie talkies, slowly closing towards the top, encircling the birds.

The shooters stand silent, expectant, loaded guns broken across their arms. Behind them stand the bag men, dogs by their sides trembling, straining their leashes in anticipation.

Then the first flush of birds rise, an incredibly rapid flurry of wings and a straight-line glide, like sling shots, breaking the tree line, coming as silhouettes towards the shooters at up to 100 kilometres an hour.

Guns explode along the line. Reload, sight, follow, lead and bang. Some birds fall. Others continue safely to the fields and forest beyond. Dogs race to retrieve birds as they fall, plunging into the dam, through blackberry and hawthorns, working to their handlers’ commands, dropping the birds at their feet.

And then another flush rises.

We’re at the first ‘drive’ of the morning at Redbanks Fish and Field, Lindsay White’s and Ian Cook’s 3500 acre fishing and hunting establishment at Nugent, 20 km inland from Sorell.

"The pheasant’s natural enemy is the fox, and no foxes means here we can raise and release the birds into the wild"

The shooters are a group of assorted businessmen and wives from New Zealand’s North Island. For some, this is their first shoot. Others have variously hunted perdice in Argentina and pheasant in the UK, Sweden and Germany. This is their first visit to Redbanks, the only driven wild pheasant-shooting establishment in Australasia.

“Tasmania has a natural advantage when it comes to this sort of hunting”, says White. “The pheasant’s natural enemy is the fox, and no foxes means here we can raise and release the birds into the wild. And a ‘driven’ shoot, when beaters ‘drive’ wild birds across the shooters in a series of flights, at varying heights and speeds, is as good as game bird hunting gets”. [Continued]

PART I | PART II


Rosie Cook’s Cream of Pheasant Soup

Soak a number of pheasant legs in beer overnight. In a large saucepan, fry plenty of sliced onions and some garlic in butter until soft.

Add the pheasant legs and beer, a generous sprinkle of dried mixed herbs and enough chicken stock to cover.

Cook long and slow until the flesh is falling off the bones. Remove the legs, de-bone and chop the flesh. Add two or three potatoes and a good quantity of trimmed and washed leeks to the stock and cook until tender.

Puree and return to the stove over very gentle heat. Stir through a few spoonfuls of grated melting cheese and, when absorbed, add a splash of red wine and enough cream to give a thick soup consistency. Season, heat gently to just below boiling and serve.


Photography by
Peter Whyte



Malt whisky from Tasmania