Willis Macbeth – Richard’s First Deer, An Alpine Experience

March 10, 2014

We had talked about this hunt for a long time, but finally a time and location had been set.  The time was mid-January, the location one of my tried and trusted spots that involves a lot of effort to get to, but the results are near guaranteed.

Richard and Adrian were keen as mustard out the gates but the steep grunt soon crushed their spirits.  They kept pushing on though and after about 3 hours we made the tussock which lifted everyone’s spirits a bit, the slog wasn’t over though.  Another five hours later the packs were dismounted for the last time this day as we finally reached the campsite.  Richard was especially feeling the burn but a cuppa and a break brought his spirits back in no time.  I left them to set up the tent while I poked my nose into the basin just around from camp.  This basin always seems to produce for me, acres of tussock and scrub fill the basin with steep bluffs surround the head of the basin.  Lush tussock and shelter from the prevailing winds offer a sanctuary for deer.  This evening was no different with a hind and fawn spotted feeding far down below me in the bottom of the basin.  The news of deer nearby installed a bit of excitement at camp.  Day packs were packed with only the essentials for any evening stalk.

It didn’t take long to spot the two deer which hadn’t gone too far. We kept searching the expanse of tussock in front of us, soon I spotted two set of ears sticking out of the tussock about 500m away in the bottom of the basin amongst the long tussock and scrub. 

Glassing for deer
Glassing for deer

 A plan was hatched that should get us within range, keeping the wind in a favourable direction and us out of sight.  The stalk required dropping a lot of altitude as we dropped onto the unsuspecting deer.  Everything went to plan as we crawled through the thick scrub at our proposed shooting point.  The two deer were about 200m away.  Richard was in place to take the shot but it now became apparent that is was indeed a hind and fawn, and the fawn was pretty small. 

Hind and Fawn
Hind and Fawn

We would have to shoot both of them if we were to shoot any, as the fawn wouldn’t survive at this age.  A short discussion with the lads and we agreed to leave them and try for the other two deer which were in full view out to our right about 300m. 

Yearling and spiker
Yearling and spiker

A short sidle through the tussock and scrub got us in range but they kept moving uphill far above where they were first spotted. By now they were pretty close to where we had first spotted them from, Murphy’s Law.  Anyway we slowly moved in to about 80m away where Richard got a decent rest on a bit of scrub and took aim on the closest deer, a yearling hind, and let off a warning shot, then followed it up quickly with a better second shot, taking the deer a bit behind the shoulder.  The other deer, a spiker, ran around higher and stopped a bit too long as Adrian took a good shot which sent him rolling down the steep slope towards us. The boys were stoked, as these were two well-earned deer! 

Adrian and Richard with the spoils of a massive day
Adrian and Richard with the spoils of a massive day

The hard work hadn’t started yet though as there was a good carry uphill to camp, then all the way out.  Blood, sweat and tears were exerted on the way back to camp with a big pile of venison.


The next morning we had a quick look for a deer then donned the packs and headed back to the road end.  The trip out was slow but uneventful; all were in pretty good spirits.  Richard cursed at me quite a lot this trip, but is coming out again with me next weekend, so it can’t have been all that bad!

Team photo
Team photo

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