‘Swazi Man’ excited at new hunting spot

Looking forward to start of season

Jane Ferguson






Outdoor pursuits man and Swazi founder Davey Hughes is fresh off the roar and straight into duck hunting season, which is now in full swing. Hughes was especially excited for this season as he had “a new spot” to take on the feathered foe. Hughes recently bought “a wee place” in the Wairarapa with a beautiful river and a “stunning outlook” onto the Tararua Ranges. There was only one problem — while Hughes had seen a few ducks on his property, he noticed the one next door had more. “My neighbours have got some beautiful ponds and I’ve been quietly slipping them the odd bottle of whiskey and I think I may get invited to go and shoot on their ponds.” Luckily for Hughes, he found his neighbours, like the Wairarapa community, were very accommodating. “I’ve discovered that the Wairarapa people are amazing [with] their hospitality [and] their friendliness. They’re just like South Islanders, to be honest.” As a hunting legend, Hughes naturally had a few more tips for a successful season, apart from bribing the neighbours with gifts. Being prepared was essential, including providing feed and a good spread of decoys to entice ducks to the pond. Being a decent duck caller was also important and something that Hughes said he needed to work on. “I’m a very average caller.” However, some hunters were a bit too good, he said. “When you get a guy shooting next to you who can call, man, sometimes you actually just want to put your gun down and listen to him.” There was always the option of using a duck calling app, but Hughes wasn’t keen. “There’s nothing like going natural.” As for the roar, Hughes’ new property also proved fruitful with “a few deer wandering through” but unfortunately for this season, it wasn’t to be. “I didn’t get myself a decent stag but I definitely got some meat for the freezer. “It was just wonderful to go and hunt on your own property.” When he’s not out and about hunting and fishing, Hughes is the founder and chief executive of Swazi Outdoor Apparel. He said had a “eureka moment” during a Covid lockdown and decided his company needed to be working with more sustainable yarns. He didn’t want to rely on “the old let’s go to merino” route and decided to incorporate strong wool into his products. “We’ve been developing new strong wool yarns and they’ve been fantastic.” Hughes and his team removed the nylon from Swazi’s socks and replaced it with strong wool. He was pleased with the results. “The socks last just as long, they’re a lot more eco-friendly and they’re actually a lot more comfortable.” The added comfort was because nylon heated up and was probably one of the reasons for blisters, he said. “The more wool content the less blisters, basically.” Swazi had also incorporated strong wool into its two-layered hooded Cairnsman work jersey. The top layer was 100 per cent NZ wool, while the inner was a mix of possum, wool and nylon. “As you get older, you do like the finer things in life, so with a jersey like that [it’s] beautiful and soft on the inside, but tough as old boots on the outside,” Hughes said.