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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 1 (April 1, 1940)

A Bush-Scouting Expedition

A Bush-Scouting Expedition.

The night fog still blanketed the valleys and ranges when the fifty Forest Rangers fell in in front of the Travellers' Rest. Jackson inspected his men, armed with their breechloading carbines and their Colt revolvers; saw that each man had his fifty rounds of Terry ammunition in his pouches, his revolver cartridges also, and three days’ rations in his haversack.

The mists were thinning and the sun shone out soon after the order to march was given. The Rangers took the track with the zest of schoolboys bound on a holiday tramp and Von Tempsky's heart leaped at the thought that here at last he was on the warpath again.

He was content to follow at the tail of the single-file for a while. He carried his Mexican sword, his revolver was at his belt. There was no sound of bugle, no tap of drum; those inspiriting soldier sounds were not for a bush-scouting party.

About noon Jackson called a halt. The party had emerged from the narrow track under the twilight shade of heavy timber on to a long cleared opening with felled and partly-burned trees still blackening the newly-grassed level.

“Buckland's Clearing,” explained Jackson when Von Tempsky joined him. “We'll have a bite of tucker and then get along in that direction.” He pointed to the south, where the dense forest went up in waves of green and blue to high ranges.

“Paparata lies somewhere yonder, no one knows exactly how far. It's a regular nest of Maoris, I believe, and fortified. We'll have a shot at finding it anyhow, and try the quality of our carbines if we have any luck. Besides, we may fall in with scouting parties any time.”

After half-an-hour's rest the Rangers, refreshed with a tot of rum from their leather-cased bottles and with their thick sandwiches from Mrs. Smith's kitchen, stood to arms again and continued the silent march. Von Tempsky now went with Jackson to the head of the company; young Ensign Hay took the rearguard duty, with Jackson's trusty sergeant, Southee. Now the track disappeared entirely in high fern, where it was difficult to break a way. Von Tempsky slashed at it with his sword but soon found that his companion's method was the best—treading it down by sheer weight. Exhausting labour. Both he and Jackson were glad to give place to reliefs from the single-file party.