Red Stag in Sika Country – Willis Macbeth

January 16, 2016

I had been trying to get my overnight gear lighter and smaller over recent months, and I had finally managed to fit all of my tops hunting gear in my 35 litre Hunters Element Boundary pack.  I had kept my clothes to the minimum: Pinnacle Jacket, Prime Summer, Crucial Top, winter leggings, and Hydrapel Shorts. A last minute message to Cam, who I met at the road end on a previous hunt, and I had myself a companion for the trip. The walk up to the tussock was short and sharp. At the bushline we were greeted by a shimmer of heat in the afternoon sun. We pushed on, glassing likely looking spots enroute to our predetermined hunting grounds. The gullies I had wanted to concentrate my time on came into view. They looked as good as the map showed, sheltered with plenty of sun and feed. If the deer weren’t here then I don’t know where they’d be. Sure enough, I soon spotted a stag down the first gully about 400m away. He was anxious, testing the air regularly. He had obviously smelt us but wasn’t too concerned, being a popular area he must have been used to it. We snuck over the ridge and down towards him to close the distance to a more reasonable range. Peering over the ridge I soon spotted the stag in the same spot, this time at 200m; a much more comfortable range.

Stag from the shooting spot
Stag from the shooting spot

It was my shot, and I only had my second rifle, a not so trusty Mini 14. This was stretching the range on the .223 so Cam kindly accepted my request to use his 7mm08. After a 45 minute wait for the stag to present a good shot, he cartwheeled down the hill under the influence of a well-placed shoulder shot. Thinking this was my first sika, being in sika country, I was pretty stoked. That was until I got to the beast, who looked awfully like a red stag. Another bloody red! Oh well, still some prime meat. My sika virginity will have to be broken another day.

My first North Island tops deer
My first North Island tops deer

We took to best bits and headed back up to the main ridge trying to find a decent camp site in the dark.

Cam and myself at sunset
Cam and myself at sunset

With a windy night forecast, shelter and water were our key deciding factors.

The next morning we explored a bit more, seeing a few more deer for our efforts including a sika hind and fawn, which were off the menu today. January isn’t the best time for hunting deer due to the limited percentage of animals you can take without feeling a bit guilty.

With the added meat, our packs were solid but still pretty manageable. I was impressed with what I could fit in the Boundary pack, and it was still comfortable.

 

 


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