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Thread: Josh James Thermalling???

  1. #76
    Member Micky Duck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Quote Originally Posted by Rees View Post
    So the TREND is,,, Join them.

    join those who make it difficult for everyone Else because JOE JOHNs is doing it, So why dont i.

    fkn Sad
    yes and NO.... and please dont go having dig at Sarvo...he sells lots of things at a very good price and is one hell of a nice guy to deal with.
    yes I see you dont like thermal stuff...fair enough,your entitled to that,I dont particularly like the way it is being used on public land either because it makes my hunting harder...but Sidney would possibly say me using indicating dog makes his harder...and to degree he is correct,the difference is that dog is legal and thermal is not on public land.
    a lot of issues arent as black n white as we would like them to be.i will dig up excellent post flyblown put up a week or so back,please take time to read it and ponder,you mat well see things in diferent light,andrealise things are different here in NZ,different to whatthey were 30 years ago in same place too.
    I spent my teenage years hunting close to where he is talking about..there were NO fallow there then and limited numbers of reds...last time my brother went out for spotlight on sisters farm,they shot 2 deer at first gate and two more in next crop paddock,back home inside and hour with kids in tow,all four mud fat deer into chiller. its nothing to see 15-20 deer on crop of winter feed around those parts.
    stingray and Phil_H like this.

  2. #77
    Member Micky Duck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    here it is...cut n pasted

    23-05-2021, 06:43 PM#1
    Flyblown Flyblown is offline
    Flyblown's AvatarJoin Date
    Feb 2018
    Arrow Stuff that I've learned about deer control
    There has been some discussion on here recently about the huge and damaging deer numbers in the Central North Island, and how recreational hunting isn’t having much of a controlling effect. If we’re honest, I think we know that many occasional hunters prefer to pass up on the easy hind in favour of that dream stag or buck so as to not “spook up” the area. There was talk about this in relation to the tahr control down south as well, and not shooting nannies.

    This approach is counterproductive in the long run, as in the end the decision on deer numbers is taken out of recreational hunters’ hands, and before you know it there’s nothing left because someone called the choppers and pro-cullers and they shot everything. Those with some grey in their beards will remember what this was like in the 80s.

    Righto, so why go down this path Flyblown?

    What follows is just an honest account of what I’ve learnt about staying relevant in the minds of my landowners, as a regular recreational hunter on other peoples’ land. @Phil_H wrote a piece on here recently about making sure you contribute to earn your privileges – a few of us have talked about this subject on this forum. Like how I got in with my main hunting buddies by renovating their cabin and doing the stuff they couldn’t (solar, plumbing, generators etc), and then keeping it up to standard no matter how much they abused it! And a whole heap of other stuff.

    But there’s something else to discuss, and that is what to do in these parlous times, as we head towards the authorities wanting to tackle red deer over-population. What follows is just a dump of my recent experiences and changes I’ve made to ensure that I do the best job I can for those that afford me the privilege of hunting their land, and using their (very comfortable) facilities for free. It’s not meant as a boast or an effort to earn cred, more of a suggestion to some of the folk that struggle to find a way to get onto land that is crying out for aggressive ungulate control. First, follow Phil’s advice and get stuck into the jobs that always need doing. Do that first. Then maybe consider some of the following, this is what works for me but might not work for you!

    As some of you know I knock about on farms in a couple of adjacent valleys in the CNI that are absolutely rammed with red deer. It used to be full to bursting with goats too, but they’ve been effectively controlled by the likes of me and others, shooting hundreds and hundreds of them from the rougher country where mustering is impossible. I’ve got some experience with mustering goats on other properties, and when it’s done right it’s very effective. (The problem is you absolutely must have a staunch boundary fence to the bush, and that’s simply not an option here. In many rough backcountry paddocks, there is no workable fence, the sheep just don’t go in the bush as there’s no feed.)

    I’ve been a ground based participant on a couple of heli-shoots here that didn’t exactly succeed, due to the gradients and amount of scrub that makes recovery very hard, and gives the deer plenty of options to go hide. So that leaves only one option. A good all-purpose rifle, staunch boots, quality all weather gear and lots of ammo.

    This one property has been through a recent change of ownership and is now being redeveloped into honey and a sheep & beef block. It has been badly let go in recent years; the Google Earth imagery since the late noughties clearly shows how quickly it has deteriorated. So now there’s a major scrub cutting operation going on in the lower easier country, which will be returned to pasture, whilst the steeper scrub country out back will see improved access tracks and pads, and left to Mother Nature to continue growing her abundant manuka. Lots of work to do.

    And then there’s the deer. Hundreds of them.

    When I first started coming here, I’d see mobs of 50+ reds cruising around as if they owned the place. They moved between the surrounding properties with impunity, taking refuge in an unbroken chain of DOC owned native bush along the high country watershed. Sometimes, there’s more deer in a paddock than sheep and cattle. That’s not good.

    I chipped away at the deer on this particular property for 4 years or so, but then lost privileges for 6 or 7 months last year when the previous owner had a wobbly before he finally decided to sell. Now I’m back at the behest of the new owner who is a good mate, along with a number of others like me, all tasked with the simple mandate: shoot the deer. Rather than go into laborious detail of each and every kill on this current trip, which would amount to about 15 hours of reading, I’ll comment on some of the things I’ve learned instead.

    Firstly, I’ll be frank about my “long range” phase. In 2017 I jumped on board the 6.5 Creedmoor craze and before long I was shooting deer at 500m as if it was shooting cans in the backyard. I have the heavy rifle in a chassis with a big scope, the works, and I learnt a helluva lot and even got pretty good at it. I made some YouTube videos as you do, and became an A-grade Creedmoor tool, going on and on and on… on forums like this. Before long it was 600m yearlings, then 700m goats, and I started to find the limits of the cartridge. Time to get excited about a proper long-range rifle! I was looking at the big magnums and analysing this and that, and very nearly bought something to shoot deer at improbable range because I thought I would be shit hot at it!

    This, was a problem.

    The productivity of long-range shooting is really crap. In 2018 on this property, there were deer feeding on open clearings everywhere, pretty much all day, and you really didn’t have to go far to find them. All you needed was a high vantage point with a good field of view (and no scrub blocking your view). After much palaver and cocking around with range finders and ballistic apps, rear bags, adjustable everything, wind meters and more, one deer (sometimes two) would be shot and the rest of them (lots) would scarper into cover and be gone. There would be a short hobble back to the bike, laden down by all the gear and the 13Żlb rifle, and a long mission to where the dead deer was, way the hell over there. On a good day you might get half a dozen between two of you.

    I don’t regret it for an instant – I can go shoot like this anytime and know that I’ll enjoy it. There’s some properly satisfying memories of excellent long shots with big wind calls. I’ve instructed others who would never have thought a 600m goat was an option, and enjoyed their success when they’ve flattened it first shot. Setting up the rifles to shoot well enough to do this reliably was very satisfying. But this long-range business was, in hindsight, a complete waste of time for this particular problem, and I could see that if I persisted with it I might not get invited back. These cockies have an eye for what works, and what doesn’t...

    In between times I’d be dicking around with subsonics, head shooting a few deer with my laser beam .223, taking the wife and boys out for a shoot and general activities that amounted to nowhere near enough deer getting shot. So when things settled down post-sale and the new partners had also had their fill of long-range deer shooting (and the Roar rush had been and gone), it was time for me to review of where we were, and what needed to be done.

    The second issue is venison recovery. I know that to many of you, the idea of shooting to waste is borderline criminal. Fair enough, I’ve never really been comfortable with it. It got to the point however that if you were going to shoot and recover every deer, you’d only be getting one or two a day. Why? Because the gradients, chasms of doom, dangerous unmaintained bike tracks and the sheer number of vertical metres up and down, meant that many recovery missions would be hours long.

    Then there is the issue of carrying out the venison in that kind of country. While we all marvel at the achievements of some of our septuagenarian members, unfortunately this middle-aged body ain’t gonna hump deer up and down these hills all day. I’m already missing various organs, have oesteo-arthiritis (hips), dodgy knees and the only thing stopping my guts from emerging from my beer belly is several sheets of surgical mesh. So fuck that.

    The compromise is taking as many backstraps and rumps as possible, to the point at which my bag (TwinNeedle Mollyme) is full. When that back is so stuffed I’m struggling to close it, that’s the weight at which I know I’m taking too much of a risk. I carry an EPIRB, and I really, really don’t want to have to use it, I’ve had my fill of injuries and hospitals thank you.

    And what to do with all the meat even if you could get them all out? All of us involved here have more than enough homegrown beef, lamb, pork, poultry and a ton of choice venison and oftentimes, fish too. There simply isn’t enough capacity to process more than what we already take. I couldn’t give it away last week, I tried three families and all were full to bursting with game meats! I went down to the chiller on the home farm last week and I literally could not fit another beast in there, it was that full of fallow, pigs and mutton. This is a wonderful problem to have really, if you think about it.

    So a gentleman’s agreement has been reached, we’re all on the same page. Take what you can, don’t let it hold you up from the business of shooting deer, be safe with what you carry and don't become an accident, and get on with it.

    The third main lesson I have learnt these past few trips, and in particular this time round, is the brilliance of the KISS principle. God knows we hunters can make life complicated for ourselves. Gizmos, fancy bullets that you can no longer find and cost twice the price even if you could, outlandish whizzbang cartridges that are supposedly better but aren’t really (if you lose a case in the grass it’s a disaster)… and… over-complicated and unnecessarily powerful optics.

    I looked long and hard at my rifle collection before I left home. I have more than I need and more than I can take with me. Which one will actually fit this deer problem best?

    I picked up my Tikka .308 and had a think. I’ve had a couple of Zeiss scopes on it before, first a duplex reticle Conquest 3-12x50, then a Z800 reticle HD5 3-15x42. Neither reticle gave me what I wanted – hash marks that represent range holds in logical increments. Time is of the essence, and dialing was to be avoided. I knew that if I could dial, I would, and the whole point was cutting the time from spotting the deer to shooting the deer to the minimum. Last Christmas I fitted a Trijicon 2.5-10x56 Accupoint, with a mildot reticle and nice illuminated dot. With a zero of 200m, the dots represent 300m, 400m, 475m and 550m. Perfect. And the way that 56mm objective hoovers up the light is remarkable.

    At first I was concerned that 10x power wouldn’t be enough. Cobblers! I’ve come to realise just how valuable a wide field of view is when shooting 300m+, and I haven’t missed the 16x, 18x or whatever at all. But even more important was the 2.5x, and just how useful that is when operating in the tight stuff. And lastly, no parallax adjustment? Yep, you bet, and for what I want this setup to do that’s spot on.

    And of course, the cartridge. Boring, unsexy, ubiquitous, slow…. cheap to run, easy to load for, deadly accurate, hard-hitting .308 Winchester.
    I don’t care if I lose brass in the grass. All 308 brass seems to work just fine, it’s cheap and easy to find.
    A .30 cal 165gr Speer softpoint costs $45 a box, goes where you tell it to, and knocks over big deer.
    I can make the Speer go where I want it to with easy to acquire bulk powders and cheap LR primers.
    I can run a short barrel (18”).
    Another lesson learnt is all about movement. In the past on this property, as mentioned above, there were deer everywhere, all day. Now, you won’t find deer grazing nonchalantly in the middle of the day, as the pressure is beginning to tell. So finding a comfy spot and sitting and waiting isn’t going to work. What I’ve found is it’s all about miles, get the miles in and the deer will be found. I park the bike in a relatively central location, and then walk. I work out what the wind is doing from gully to gully, walk in low to get around it and in front of it, and then work back into the wind at elevation. Some days it is perfect from the get go – the south easterly is the one to have. But for the most part its north westerly or westerly, and that’s in the deer’s favour. So you have to work out your route, use the spurs, the ridgelines and stay above the deer. In scrub country like this, there are heaps of tiny little clearings dotted around, and often the spurs will be clear. Find an old track, or a good deer track, and sidle into the wind above the main slopes, looking down for the most part. It’s amazing how many red deer will be sitting right there – you won’t see them for scrub if you’re glassing from the other side of the valley. Snap shooting deer offhand from above has been very productive, and often they are only 20-30m away so it is easy to quickly take the backstraps and move on.

    Lastly, we come back to where I started. Shooting hinds only. I’ve seen three really impressive red stags this past couple of weeks. It always gets the juices flowing. One I’ve seen pretty much every day, I know exactly where he lives. Another I’ve seen twice, and I damn nearly had a go at him a few days ago. The final one I’ve seen from afar, the kind of stag I would have spent the rest of the trip pursuing if I could. A king amongst stags.

    But that’s not what I’m here to do. And this is where deer culling is separated from hunting that quality head. If the expectation is you’re there to shoot deer, you absolutely must resist the urge to shoot the stag when there are three hinds standing right next to him. I’m not going to lie – it’s bloody hard sometimes. Keep walking up that god awful steep spur to get to the hinds in the next gully, or head into some cover and start stalking into that big head? Bloody hard to resist the urge.

    I made a pact with myself – when I got to 30 hinds, I’d earned the right to take a stag. It was actually over 40 by the time I found one I could easily get to assuming I dropped him right there. Honouring my agreement with myself felt good, felt satisfying.

    What’s even more satisfying is that despite the fact that I only get to about half the hinds I shoot for control purposes, there’s still over 60kg of primo backstrap meat, cleaned, vacuum packed and in the freezer, to be shared amongst us. Feels really good to put that in your mate’s freezer as a thank you. Plus an unknown quantity of mince – the offcuts and rougher stuff goes into dog mince and the clean rumps are minced for us to mix with beef and make our cook ups of bolognaise meat sauce at home.

    So that’s what I’ve learnt. My tips for securing productive hunting on deer infested private land, and ensuring you keep getting asked to come back:
    A simple rig, easy to feed, nothing fancy optics wise. A large percentage of the shooting is going to be offhand snap shots – it’s about 50/50 offhand vs prone for me – so a variable scope with a low minimum magnification is essential. My preference – never thought I’d say this – is now for fixed parallax. Nothing worse than looking through a scope at a deer standing 20m away when mag is on 16x and parallax is set to infinity. I've shot a few very blurry deer in my time...
    Have a well-defined operating range and stick to it – mine is 0-400m for the .308 Win – that’s proven, well-practiced and doesn’t give me any concerns.
    Travel light and don’t take risks when you’re oldish, somewhat wobbly with a load on when really tired and prone to breaking down if you overdo it. Don’t get greedy, if you’re good at it there will be more – much more – tomorrow and the next day.
    Religiously, dogmatically, shoot females only. Make a point of discussing this with the farmer and then stick to it. Show them you mean business – stop the breeding. At this time of year, you’re getting probably 1.75 deer for every deer shot when you include the yearlings. The half dozen mature hinds I’ve recently gutted for a look see at the terminal ballistics have all been pregnant.
    When time is on your side and you're onto a mob, always, always, always shoot the biggest hind with the longest nose first. Every possibility she has two or maybe more daughters with her. Some will run, but others will stay rooted to the spot.
    Like I say, this is what has worked for me. I’ve had to change what I do and drop the fancy stuff, get back to basics. My numbers are through the roof, and I know that’s its very much appreciated. The deer will always be here, just harder to find, but that’s real hunting.

    As a reward for getting this far, here's some photos of recent deer.

  3. #78
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    I love thermal its awesome, since it cant be legally used on public land whats the problem? What happens on privately owned land is none of our business, isn't it? I don't give a damn about sportsmanship when its filling the freezer or sorting out pests. As far as scanning the bush edge with a hand held thermal I don't see much difference between someone using high end spotting scopes to spot with. In my experience the animals are long gone by daylight. I've taken 4 reds in the last 2 weeks with thermal. I have literally shot over 10,000 wallabies, rabbits, deer, hedgehogs cats and so on with thermal over the last 4 years. Its interesting though, the more you use thermal the sooner you realise it doesn't always reveal too many animals. Especially in a true public land bush/tussock environment. Thermal is much better suited to the fringes of pasture and farmland which brings us back to private land. How many of you have tried to move in pitch darkness on public land? Not many, I have, it's fairly spicy work. Hunting with thermal on foot you end up using terrain enablers and get around on red head lamp mostly. The deer bust you pretty quick when you try to move in the open as its impossible to stalk conventionally. Anywhere inside 100 meters and your totally busted even in pitch dark and no headlamp
    Last edited by Speargrass; 26-07-2021 at 10:56 PM.
    Trout, Micky Duck and Fat ninja like this.

  4. #79
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    That’s very accurate @Speargrass.
    @Rees why are you on a forum in a different country whinging about what someone does on private property? Is it illegal to use thermals on private property in oz?

  5. #80
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Southern Alps
    Love watching deer thru thermals feeding towards you in pitch black darkness,no moon,say 200yds away.As long as you are still looking over the broom tops with yr black face on,you are fine.Start walking slowing say 2 mtrs left in pitch black darkness,you are busted.Theyv got amazing eye site(thermal i reckn),even 200yds away and you out in the open standing still.They will stop and watch you for a couple of minuts,check you out.Great fun watching,i dont shoot them all.Just a small eater for the freezer now n then.

  6. #81
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    I usually manage within about 150 meters with disruptive pattern camo head to toe and a cover over the scope backlight. Moving when the moon is clouded. They see us just fine so many rods in a deers eye. I took a few mates for stalks wearing solid colours. Might as well be carrying a disco ball.

  7. #82
    Join Date
    Nov 2020
    Josh does a lot of product reviews, I doubt that thermal was his own or something he uses regularly. He was hunting with a mate of his, that is the first time I have ever seen him talk about a thermal.
    Micky Duck likes this.



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