Meet my two sisters, Margery and Jenny. This is their new book from the Tales from the Farm series. It’s called The Eel Hunt. It tells the story of an event we all fondly remember from our childhood days on our farm in Central Hawkes Bay. Near the back of our farm there was a favourite spot on the Manawatu River where we used to go swimming by day and eeling by night. Brother John had his in-laws (who acted more like out-laws) staying and they all decided to go on an eel hunt. We kids could hardly believe our ears. We jumped for joy.
Now for any successful eel hunt, you need a few good stabbers – some nicely sharpened sets of prongs, spaced not too far apart, to stab the eels when they are in the water. So out came a bunch of electric fence standards, the welder and a few garden tools and John and his out-laws got to work. You also need a decent light to see the eels in the water at night, so John set up a couple of portable motorbike headlights and batteries, which were placed in some backpacks. By late afternoon everything was ready.
At dusk we made our way down the back of our farm to the river. The water looked black and ominous. The moonlight shone above, lighting up the bubbly water that flowed around the rocks and stones at the more shallow parts.
“Over here, shine the light” someone yells. The headlight beam darts across the surface of the water. The ‘stabbers’ go to work, thrashing about in the water.
“Watch out, that’s my foot” someone else cries.
“Eeeek!!” a girl shrieks, as an eel wraps around her leg. “It’s got me.”
A ghastly thought, but yes – that’s exactly what happened to my poor sister Jane. You see, when you stab an eel near its head, it tries to wrap itself around the stake, but sometimes it misses and gets someone’s leg. It isn’t the most pleasant experience I tell you!
But it was the next event that really stole the night. Around the next bend I stumbled across a cow’s carcass, nicely bloated, sitting in the middle of the river. But I wasn’t noticing the cow, or the smell. I was looking at the eels – masses of them, swirling all around this thing. “Quick, bring the light!” I yelled. And then we started madly thrashing and stabbing in the water. “Yuk!” cried the girls, “that’s disgusting!” We didn’t particularly care at that point. This was a grand eel fest!
Soon we had a pretty good haul in our sacks and it was time to call it a night. The next day we smoked them in a couple of overturned 40 gallon drums with a fire beneath. They tasted pretty good too.
A month ago our family attended a special book launch for The Eel Hunt in Raglan.
There was a great turnout with family members coming from as far as Australia. There were plenty of locals who dropped in to have a look and even some folk from our old farm district. Ken (Jenny’s husband) prepared some tasty snacks and Mark and Arden served the drinks.
Jen and Marg then presented the book, explaining how the story all began and where our farm was located.
Then a few of the guys got up (now looking a little grey) and retold the story. We got plenty of laughs. Margery then explained that the eels we hunted are now a protected species and looking up and down rivers to stab them might not be a good idea.
If you’re looking for Christmas gifts for your kids or grandkids The Eel Hunt might be worth considering. It’s a great action-packed story with some kiwi flair, and it’s all TRUE. You can order it from their website here. And while you are there, you might want to check out their other two popular titles – Old Truck (revised and updated) and The day Dad blew up the cowshed. They might not be all that PC, and they won’t excite the animal rights activists, but your kids will love them.