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Thread: Cavalier Block - Stewart Island Trip August 2013

  1. #1
    Member JoshC's Avatar
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    Cavalier Block - Stewart Island Trip August 2013

    Been a bit quiet on the reports of late, so here's a report from my latest trip.

    Malhunting, Scotty and I did a trip down to the Island last weekend. We had the Cavalier Block; one none of us had hunted before. I'd been to Masons Bay twice and hunted over the hill at Doughboy a couple of times as well but never at Cavalier.

    We flew down from Invers with Stewart Island Flights, the first time we'd gone to the Island by plane. We would highly recommend this mode of transport to anyone considering a trip down there. We left mid day Thursday and within 30 minutes were on the beach with all the luxuries we needed for 5 days. Cost was $300 return each.

    The flight in and out was pretty cool. The island from the air is a hostile looking place. Especially the swamps in the head of Freshwater and the north west coast as well. Both flights were in awesome weather with good vis.

    The Ruggedy's



    Mason's Head



    Rainbow in Masons Bay dunes



    Safely on the beach out from the hunters hut



    We carried our gear to the hut and were not happy with what we found --- guys please spread the word about respecting huts. I know most do, but if you ever see anyone being slack in the way they intend to leave a hut, please let them know.

    Someone had left food in the hut on the bench, so rats had chewed their way in and had shat and pissed all through the hut over the beds, bench and utensils etc. (Mal later speared the hut rat with a flounder spear as it woke him up and then tried to escape back out through its hole...so he was dealt to and the holes blocked up)

    Previous parties had conveniently been able to carry in their big bottles of booze in, but were too f'n lazy to take their emptys out. Not to mention empty beer cans and bottles lying about. And gas canisters! NO-ONE wants your empty canisters! Actually, take all of your rubbish out!

    There was no firewood or tinder to get a fire started, and it is not that hard to get a few loads of wood from on the beaches (maybe this is why the slack buggers don't worry about replacing what they use --- but it is common curtesy). Anyway Mal and I had two fish bins bulging with semi dry wood within an hour, and left them both full plus extra at the end of the trip.

    We took out a big black bag of rubbish out with us, and burnt anything that was burnable. So a lot of rubbish! Please respect these huts guys, they were put there by hunters for hunters
    .

    Anyway, back to the report. Here’s the Cavalier hunters hut. Comfortable with running water and all the utensils you need. Fire goes well too --- with dry firewood



    After sorting our gear out, we had a feed and went hunting. These west coast blocks have huge areas of sand dunes and at the right time of year the deer spend a fair bit of time hooning about in them. So first thing to do was sort out some hunting zones and each of us go and suss out the dunes.

    North along the beach towards Masons Bay



    And looking South to Kilbride



    As it turned out the dunes were pretty much void of fresh sign. I did find a few marks, and the other boys found one dune worthy of sitting on in the evenings, but it was clear we'd need to go bush to find the wee buggers.

    Typical dune type country, which at the right time of year can be productive hunting. Sitting hidden on a vantage point you may see animals right out in the dunes. I suspect many deer would be nocturnal as far as timing for dunes hunting goes, but you never know if you don't try it;



    Fresh sign in the sand



    Typical of most deer species in NZ, during the winter whitetail can be hard to find. Deer slow their metabolism down for winter and do not need to eat so much. So essentially they will find a small area in the bush with water, food and warmth and will sit the winter out. After little luck on the deer front on the first day around the dune edges, we hit the bush on the second day.

    The bush on the island can be great, or it can be a nightmare. Maps don't really indicate what the bush under the canopy is like either. It can really be luck of the draw.

    We all sussed out areas we'd like to hunt for the day and off we went. We all found sign, reasonably fresh but it was irregular in where it was located --- random almost. They give away no clues these whitetail. All of us being fairly competent bush stalkers, we were not the hunters who like sitting in "clearings" and waiting for deer to cross our paths, so much of our hunting time was spent covering ground to "find" the animals. We didn't feel the numbers were there to warrant doing that to be honest.

    I found some really neat spots and some excellent stalking. I'd move quickly through tight or noisy crown fern filled areas, slowing down when I hit sign or open bush. Sitting for half an hour on hot sign where I could see a bit of country.

    By doing so I spooked a couple of deer earlier in the day, only seeing fern and shrubs move. In the afternoon I'd got onto where the deer were holed up and saw two, neither really giving the chance of a shot, but both not carrying any timber on top. Having shot whitetail in the past, I really wanted a buck. I marked the spot on my GPS with the plan to return later in the trip if other areas didn’t produce.

    The other boys had a good day out, finding sign and enjoying being in the bush. Scotty spooked one, but neither managed to see animals.

    This is some nice bush stalking



    One great thing about the Island is the Kiwis. They add an exciting element to a day in the bush, and hearing them rummage through the crown fern can get your heart rate up...especially in areas with hot deer sign. The bird life down there is healthy too which was pleasing. Most places you stopped you would be surrounded by a number of native birds. We saw about 7 or 8 kiwis for the trip, all different birds. I got crap photos, but pretty good video of a couple.



    The third day was spent diving and attempting to catch a fish or two. The sea was flat but we didn't have a boat (due to weight restriction). I'd taken some fins and mask and snorkel down so jumped in and grabbed a feed of paua pretty quickly. I had a poke about for a cray but didn’t find anything handy, and didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks being the only one in the water. There were decent rollers coming in which didn’t allow us to get close to the sea for a fish, so after losing some gear we pulled out and buggered off hunting.

    Scotty found a ridge with some really good sign, some of it very good buck sign. So we planned to hit that up the next day and hunt different areas of it all at once. Next day came and we were all in the bush, bashing about looking for a deer again. Both Scotty and Mal got into some good stuff and managed to find sign, but again no animals were sighted. I ended up bashing about in absolute sh*t bush and only spooked one deer for the day…ironically in the only bit of nice bush I found all day…but was too buggered to be hunting properly.

    The last day came; we still hadn’t put a deer on the deck! We were a little despondent really; it was the first island trip I’d been on that’d been that quiet. The other boys who hadn’t hunted the island before were wondering what the hell these deer looked like! Scotty headed back to where he’d found a bit of fresh buck sign, and Mal and I head back to where I’d seen the deer on day two.

    After a quick jaunt up the walking track, where we had a very close encounter with a kiwi, we popped off into the bush and stalked our way through a series of creek heads and ridges. Within an hour or so we were hitting some good sign so we duly slowed down and stalked properly.

    I put Mal out in the lead, while I tried to stalk 15-20 metres behind and out to the side of him. That way we’d cover the small ridges we were hunting more effectively but safely at the same time. We’d just crossed a steep little gully and were stalking up through some thick crown fern when I caught the movement of a deer out the corner of my eye.

    The wee whitetail had appeared from nowhere on this open ridge, and was silently jumping through the fern on a hidden trail, but within seconds I had a bead on his shoulder and had squeezed off. Mal nearly sh*t himself as the 223 cracked, and as he spun he saw the ferns swishing as the deer disappeared into them. A short search later and we’d found the young deer lying spent under a tree. Like most whitetail shot on the island, it was a juvenile animal.

    Young deer;


    Regardless, we were pretty stoked with some venison and a nice skin to take home. And with only a few hours till pick up, I sorted the animal out, sent Mal on a hunt back toward the hut, then I packed the deer out. By mid-afternoon we’d cleaned up and were waiting on the beach for the plane to arrive, and within an hour and a half were sitting at home wishing we didn’t have to work the next day!

    We’re happy on the inside! Haha;



    Good relaxing trip all round with a couple of good buggers.

    Cheers
    JoshC.
    I'm drawn to the mountains and the bush, it's where life is clear, where the world makes the most sense.

  2. #2
    R93
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    My favorite block on the Island. Managed a couple reds there as well. Kilbride is an awesome spot for a walk and free dive.

    Is the meat safe still at the homestead?
    Do what ya want! Ya will anyway.

  3. #3
    OPCz Rushy's Avatar
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    What a fantastic report JoshC. Well done. I entirely agree with your sentiments about lazy bastards not taking their rubbish out and leaving huts in a mess.
    It takes 43 muscle's to frown and 17 to smile, but only 3 for proper trigger pull.
    What more do we need? If we are above ground and breathing the rest is up to us!
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  4. #4
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    great report, and photo's, I know of a group that were down there about 4-5 weeks ago and they never seen hide nor hair of an animal,
    I will ask about the state of the hut, pisses me of that sort of thing

  5. #5
    Member JoshC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by R93 View Post
    My favorite block on the Island. Managed a couple reds there as well. Kilbride is an awesome spot for a walk and free dive.

    Is the meat safe still at the homestead?
    Yeah it wouldn't be my favourite but it is an amazing part of the island. Long walks on the beach get a bit old when you're doing them twice daily for 5 days

    I like Doughboy alot. And have a couple of favourites on the East Coast. We really missed not having a boat.

    I think there was a meat safe at the Homestead, didn't take much notice to be honest. Had a quick look about, a drink from the water tank and carried on. Hard to imagine it being a farm eh. Tough buggers back then.

    We all found a bit of red sign, not many there these days but obviously the odd one sneaking about. One bloody big stag mark, carrying a fair bit of weight up in his front end too judging by his print.
    I'm drawn to the mountains and the bush, it's where life is clear, where the world makes the most sense.

  6. #6
    Member savagehunter's Avatar
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    Nice trip and pics josh must get down there one day

    Sent from my GT-N7100 using Tapatalk 2

  7. #7
    R93
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    Helps to read a good report properly eh? I meant Masons is my favorite block, sorry. The pics look so similar. And we use the same mode of transport.
    The bush around the homestead at Masons was very good hunting. The swamps out the back hold oodles of animals as well.
    We seen a few animals at Kilbride but as it was not our block. We didnt bring shooters down from masons anyway.
    I much prefer the western side. I dont get too distracted by fishing and have seen as many animals as I have on the eastern side if not more. Always a prevailing wind to help with the sneaky stuff.
    Never hunted it on foot this time of year though. If you didnt see much sign on the sand there cant have been many about that front country, so you's did well to ping one.
    Last edited by R93; 12-08-2013 at 05:27 PM.
    Do what ya want! Ya will anyway.

  8. #8
    Another young huntress
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    Nice trip report fellas

  9. #9
    A Good Keen Girl Dougie's Avatar
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    Awesome!! Wicked about the kiwi too.
    She loves the free fresh wind in her hair; Life without care. She's broke but it's oke; that's why the lady is a tramp.

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  10. #10
    Member gadgetman's Avatar
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    Good on you Josh. My rule has always been "leave it how you would like to find it" rather than the "leave it how you found it."

    Must go back there some day.
    There are only three types of people in this world. Those that can count, and those that can't!

  11. #11
    Member Malhunting's Avatar
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    Yeah it was a great trip and im keen to go back to another block for a look and a dive, here are just a few pics i took whilst there and a cracker vid.
    The Gutter.

    A sunrise.

    Beach walk. Josh and Scotty.

    Calm of the Ocean.

    The Gutter again.

    The Veiw.

    The Butt clench! My favorite vid.

    The climb out.

    The Kiwi.

    So happy to see this fella, if i didnt get a deer the least i wanted to do whilst on the Island was see a Kiwi, they are so cool.
    R93, JoshC, TimeRider and 1 others like this.

  12. #12
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    Nice write up joshc,wets the appetite more to get there one day.

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    Great pics.

    Sid was left at home Malhunting?
    Yeah nah bro

    Rule 4: Identify your target beyond all doubt.

  14. #14
    Member Malhunting's Avatar
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    Yeah, i would imagine you would need Kiwi Aversion training etc etc to take a dog on the island, thats if they let ya take dogs on there at all?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malhunting View Post
    Yeah, i would imagine you would need Kiwi Aversion training etc etc to take a dog on the island, thats if they let ya take dogs on there at all?
    Wouldn't be surprised it they don't. It is a good thing really if there are that many kiwis there.
    Yeah nah bro

    Rule 4: Identify your target beyond all doubt.

 

 

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