Winter Ramblings, taking care of excess Deer. By BJ Holdsworth.

July 14, 2015

So winter turned up with a bit of a vengeance here on the East cape of New Zealand, not only cold but dry as well, with little growth pushing through to feed Sheep and cattle on our property it really became time to cull out a few deer.

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One of the easiest things to do is find willing volunteers to help out with culling and with a few scheduled for June, July and August it was the June crew from the big smoke of Wellington that were first up. Rob, Alex, Steve and Paul arrived in the dead of night in what sounded like a Hummer, it was too dark to see but it was either supposed to sound that mean or they had lost half a muffler on the way up, at one in the morning I wasn’t leaving my sanctuary of warmth to bother finding out I would have my answer at breakfast when four weary Hunters Element clad fellas turned up at the door in a giant Nissan truck .

A light breakfast with a bunch of good ken men fuelled us for a quick fire session on the range where a demonstration of mostly lethality was observed, we would then head out for a look, it was mid morning by the time we saw a few Red Deer.

A bunch of hinds and a couple of Stags grazed four hundred yards below us, this was good , a slight breeze pushed up with the days warming, I didn’t want to bust in right away until we had a wind direction to work with, experience with fickle winds in this valley has burnt me on more than one occasion. The breeze felt o.k. after a good look and a yarn about plan A, (which I was making up as we went along)  we decided to drop in and follow the mob which was now in fact grazing into a feeble South Westerly of about two knots..

It wasn’t long before we found them, they had stopped and were mostly bedding up with the closest being 250 yards below us, Paul and Steve were trying to decide which ones to have a shot at and while its not easy when two guys have to fire two shots at the same time at two different animals our seemingly safe breeze turned ugly and the mob started to bolt for safety ..Fortunately two Deer remained bewildered by their buddies moving off and at the count of three two deer were down with two reasonable shots , as luck had it we would even be able to get a vehicle right there to recover the animals this was the best part as it would mean more time for hunting later that day.

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So with a couple of deer already in the chiller and a bit of lunch we would then head out to the other side of the property as there had been a bunch of hinds busy gorging themselves on calving pasture for the last few weeks, this hunt can only be described as being a Surf and turf as it nearly resulted in a Baywatch Style water rescue. The hinds were in a tricky spot so we had to cut around the back side of the hill, we climbed up a bit also to drop in on them, this was good as they had no idea we were there and we would be able to get in quite close, light was fading fast so we couldn’t muck around. Rob would get a shot but the deer were now coming out near the river below us, it was requested that he go for a neck shot so any hit animal wouldn’t go swimming and Rob did it better than that he head shot one but what happened next wasn’t great. Murphy’s  Momentum somehow had this big old hind in the drink, just as I got down to her she kicked her legs and pushed herself out into the deep dark cold ….Bugger, with that we began to follow it downstream hoping it would come into the edge for retrieval but alas no . It was then I decided in a moment of madness that for the first time in years I was going to expose my white chicken legs and semi hairy chest to a bunch of blokes–mainly because it would be a waste of venison and  good marksmanship but not only that this would be a great way to test out my Hunters Element clothing in dealing with hypothermia ..So while thinking, (actually dreading) of how I was going to leap into giant Eel infested freezing water it was Paul that came up with the solution a rescue plan that David Hasslehoff would have been proud of… A bloody big long stick to catch the deer and slowly encourage it ashore … That he did and we had our third animal.

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So with a roaring fire, good food, wine, whisky and beer the day was celebrated in good form which only could have been better if only these guys could have stayed awake long between Nana naps to squeeze in more hunting tales.

Day two dawned clear this would be a bit more looking , planning and scheming, a deer for Alex on the agenda. After a failed attempt at trying to get close enough to a deer that seemed to be handicapped we headed up onto the top side in the afternoon looking for a Fallow doe, there is usually a few hanging here but it wasn’t going to be easy, lucky for us all Alex is good at distance and proved worthy of all the ballistic figures scribed on the stock of his rifle at a barrel stretching 315 yards his fallow doe hit the dust..A good result for a selective hunter whom had been patient and let all his buddies take the easy ones.

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So another evening of humour a roaring fire and hunting tales, good time to relax and unwind without a care, the truck would be laden with venison the next morning destined for table fare…

 


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