Most often through a busy season of guiding hunters from all over the world there are always situations (what some call dramas) that arise none more apparent than what occurred last week.
As our group of three Red Stag hunters from Florida filled out their Stag requirements , (three stags, four days, two guides) we came across a bit of a problem we found a real inferior stag making the most of somehow picking up 6 hinds , this wasn’t good not only was this particular animal weak I the antler department he had somehow taken control of this harem and pushed aside several real nice Stags which were in fact bigger wider and a lot more girl worthy. This was a problem we have culled at least 18 animals in the last 12 years like this fella, he had slipped under the radar and was now trying to undo all the hard work we have done with sowing his seeds of scrubbiness.
What makes a good stag? firstly here on this property they need to be carrying three points on top of each main beam by three years of age, they also need to have bottom three tines each side, this makes them a 12 pointer. While we still have stags 3 and 4 years kicking around that don’t fit these credentials they are not breeding , they simply don’t get the chance, BJ and Tim are always watching who has what and where, if we see a stag that simply hasn’t got it he is for the hitlist, that’s how this particular hunt was hatched.
We gave the option to these three amigos from Florida, “who wants to take out a management stag? you guys decide, we are going into the valley at day break” asked guide Tim , this was day five of their adventure they all shot well and were good on the hill so it didn’t matter which amigo would try for him.
Early the next morning Dubbo, Tim and I left the lodge we drove as far as we could before we would be in earshot of the valley, we shouldered our packs and started the 1/2 mile march to the head of the gully, we would hunt down into the morning wind which was usually in our favour, (thermal lift and all that). Dubbo is mid sixtyish but is hard, fit and pretty strong—his profession of being a cattle farmer had kept him well . As the sun rose we saw only a few deer, spikes and two fawns which seemed to have no mothers at first of which soon appeared out of some scrub to our right, morning mist still filled the bottoms and stags could be heard roaring we had a rough idea where this stag was but didn’t want to go blazing in and blow it esp if it meant upsetting other deer in the process. The pleasure of nature in its finest hour gave us a good view but we didn’t see the stag and we didn’t see that group of hinds, they had gone. The sound of a stag in the bush below us had to be him, do we go in and have a go or do we sit and wait, if we get it wrong will he gather those hinds up and scarpa and cost us another day or two of trying to find him , decisions I had to make. We all agreed to wait it out see what happens I was certainly in favour of that, five years ago I would have gone in there on a 50/50 and risked getting it wrong, getting it wrong I am pretty good at so we sat there soaking up the morning sun and taking in a pretty vista
After and good hour of not seeing the stag and feeling the wind change along with realising todays forecasted temperature of 20 degrees was soon going to be reality we pulled the pin and headed back for some coffee and that cake I knew had been baked the day before which due to my lack of breakfast had occupied a fair bit of my mind ….
The afternoon hunt was planned this stag would have to come out and show himself, he had been busy no doubt romantic with a hot hind that morning and opted for tree cover, the plan was to watch the water those deer always headed to a pond late afternoon that is where we would set up.
As it happened the stag was right out in the open as were six hinds and four fawns he was 460 yards from where we first got to , this was perfect we had the right wind direction, plenty of bush cover between us and a keen as mustard hunter who said he only needed to drop 160 yards as he was more than confident at 300..
Dropping into some scrub we made the easy stalk down and across, Dubbo right at my heels. When we came out I had a quick scan with the binos they had grazed away from us and kept a 300+ distance this wasn’t good as they would soon make the cover of a grove of adult poplar trees, we started a stealthier approach always watching the deer if any of them lifted their heads we would stop fortunately they were grazing intent with filling their stomach’s and we finally made it to a knoll 290 yards from the stag..
Dubbo chambered a round, the slick action of the Sako pushing forward a 150 grain meat seeker which very shortly would be travelling a whole lot faster–and with any luck land perfectly.
The shot wasn’t on his butt faced us, patiently we waited, anxious to do this I began to range again the distance now 310 it was starting to bug me we opted to move a little higher this would drop the distance by about 20 and give us a better view, I was glad we did because he then dropped into a small hollow his antlers now visible his only giveaway. Dubbo was ready , we waited stag fever now biting both of us finally our chance was handed to us he left the hollow at 295 yards broadside,before I could even signal to my American friend the bullet was gone striking the beast right on the shoulder, the stag lurched forward he appeared to be running on three legs before falling 15 metres down a bank, dead ..
The stag had 11 points and was narrow with short Bez tines this was no Brad Pitt but he obviously knew how to fight and dominate a bunch of hinds , Dubbo was happy this sort of stag would make a good hatrack , I was happy because he passed right on a ridge where I was confident we could get the Honda to so an easy recovery before dark would certainly be a bonus..
My Contour pack which was a day old carried my jacket, first aid kit, two peanut slabs and several sharp knives was un shouldered and we sorted him from his insides right there, I love this pack you don’t know your wearing it, the new features are a slightly different strap assembly which will hold external gear and what will be soon used (my Bow) well, the grey on the old pack is now green too which does look a little more lethal.
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