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Thread: Dusting off the cobwebs on the old stomping ground

  1. #1
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    Dusting off the cobwebs on the old stomping ground

    Been meaning to do a wee write up of this trip for a while, so here we go...

    Long time fisherman here who got into hunting in early 2016. Got in a year of hunting with regular trips- managed my first couple of deer and a bunch of goats, but at the beginning of 2017 I sold up the rifle to head over to the UK for a couple years for my partners career.. A couple years no hunting, no diving, no fishing, but some excellent travel... got back at the end of Jan. Managed to get out for a few fly fishing trips, and one goat mission with a borrowed rifle. Being a lefty I was hanging out for the right (or should that be left?) rifle to come along when @FRST posted for sale a very tidy single shot Baikal in .270. After too many fishing trips where deer (and a tahr) have presented themselves to find me only armed with a fly rod, I'd been intending to pick up a pack rifle anyway so this was a great option to get me back up and running while I wait for the right lefty to come along (and a rifle I never intend to get rid of even once I've got a lefty).

    Managed to get in a few half day goat missions to a handy local spot, but what I'd really been hanging out to do was a proper trip out to look for some deer. Finally managed to get out in early October to the DOC block where I nabbed my first couple of deer. Went out with my buddy Mark, a new hunter who's joined me on a few of those goat trips and was keen for more.

    We both took a half day of work on the Friday to drive up and hike in. I had a particular camp site in mind where someone has erected a tarp on the edge of a clearing (found it on a quick day trip back in May). Left the van bang on 4pm and start the hike in. Climb the 300m down to the river and the 400m elevation back up to the tops on the other side. Checked a few small clearings along the way but nothing spotted. A touch after 7pm we finally arrived at camp. As we edged onto the clearing I suddenly spotted a hind across the clearing, looking our direction. Literally no more than 30m from my intended camp site. She'd clearly seen me but hadn't registered what I was so didn't spook, so I dropped behind some tussock with the rifle raised. My buddy was still obscured in the trees and hadn't seen her. But as desperately as I wanted to take her (would've been my third deer ever and first since December 2016) I'd brought Mark in with the goal of getting him his first deer, and with her watching me I couldn't get him into position. So I just hunkered down behind the bush for a minute until she turned and made her way off into the scrub. Immediately the packs came off, I handed Mark the rifle and we headed after her, knowing there were a series of small clearings ahead. We'd only got about 100m when I spotted a deer just outside the treeline on a clearing about 60m away. Mark settled down on one knee and dropped her with a clean neck shot. Marks first ever deer on the board within about 150m of camp immediately on arrival (he's under no illusion though that this is normal). Not the hind I'd initially seen but a smaller yearling. Perfect eater and Mark was chuffed!
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    I talked Mark through the gutting process and then we made the (not so tough) slog to camp, hung the deer up, cracked a couple beers and set up the tent. My original plan had been to get up super early Saturday morning to mission over and glass some nice clearings on the other side of the valley, but was also aware we were due for some heavy overnight rain. The rain hit about 4am, and our chosen campsite proved excellent as the mysterious tarp provided some additional shelter from the conditions. The rain let up about 9am, so we just had a sleep-in. Got up about 10am, cooked some bacon and headed down into the bush for a stalk. About 30mins in I spotted a young wild lamb at about 30m. I've had plenty of opportunities in the past to take one but have always passed them up for a chance at a deer, so decided this was my time. She was quite small, so I dropped her with a headshot so as to not waste any meat. My first wild sheep. Again, a quick carry back to camp.
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    After hanging up the lamb at camp we headed back out, moving further out to hopefully find something undisturbed by my earlier shot. At this point I told Mark that next sheep was his to take, but next deer was mine as I wanted back on the board after 3yrs with no deer. We found a game trail and followed it down into the bush for a while. Mark was taking the lead with the rifle and me right behind. He was leading us through some more open bush, but there didn't seem to be a lot of feed around. I could tell that the next gully around was sunnier so being spring I figured it'd have better feed and be a warmer spot for animals, so suggested to Mark he stalk over in that direction. Sure enough, shortly after Mark spots a sheep through some scrub but can't get a clean shot. We sat for about 5-10mins waiting for it to present for a clean shot but it instead moved out of sight.

    We moved in closer, getting within about 10m of where we'd seen the sheep, but it was still out of sight. Mark was about to move in closer when all of a sudden I saw movement out of the corner of my eye about 5m away. ANTLERS!!! WTF, it's October! It'd been feeding and had its head down, but when it raised it's head the movement gave it away. I tapped Mark on the shoulder and whispered "bro, there's a stag right there. Give me the rifle". His response... "haha c'mon man, you just want my sheep"... to which I replied "seriously bro, give me the f**king rifle". As he doesn't have his licence yet and was at my mercy he duly handed over the rifle. He was just in front to my right, so from the position we were cresting the ridge he couldn't actually see the deer so thought I was taking the piss but handed over the rifle. I lined up a head shot and pulled the trigger. It wasn't til the deer rolled right in front of him that he realised I was serious. As the shot rang out the sheep we'd been stalking, plus 3 others we hadn't even seen all bolted off.
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    The stag was a 4pter, still a pretty young animal, but it was my first ever stag! My previous deer have been hinds. Also my first ever bush stalked deer, and at such close range was quite something! Took us about 2hrs to get it back up the hill. Spent the rest of Saturday afternoon chilling back at camp and that night boned the three animals out followed by a couple more beers. Sunday we had a casual start, nice fry up at camp and then slowly worked our way out with heavy packs! Overall one of my best trips, after 3yrs of practically no hunting it was great to put everything I've learnt back into practice and for things to pay off while also putting in the hard yards, securing several firsts along the way. Overall this was my 8th trip into this particular block and third coming out with some meat.
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    Question for those more experienced folk out there... I was under the impression that stags would've dropped their antlers by Aug/Sept... do the younger animals drop later typically or was this an anomaly? I know guys who were in there a month before who'd seen stags already dropped.

    Took another newbie in there a few weeks ago, my little brother this time. I'll post a story about that trip tomorrow!
    hillclima, Tahr, mikee and 7 others like this.

  2. #2
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    Regarding the stag, Older stags do drop first in August to early Sept with others depending on age and body condition following on until everyone has cast including spikers which will be last and finished by the end of Oct.

    For your chap to be so late he must have had a tough winter and lost a lot of weight. His body not having the reserves to initiate antler growth as well as recovering the body weight that he had lost, so it has delayed casting until he has a surplus of feed going through his system.
    What was he like from a health perspective when he was gutted ? Any liver fluke, lung abnormalities etc ? In the photo he looks fine, just a late casting last years spiker that grew brow tines. Stags get a black waxy line between the pedicle and the antler coronet just before they cast

    Great shooting by the way
    Pixie Z likes this.
    'Bother' said Pooh, as he chambered another round ... Wong Far King Way

  3. #3
    Member craigc's Avatar
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    Awesome story and adventure. It had everything a good hunting trip should have; a mate, some animals and bacon.

    You’ll make a mighty fine hunter!
    Shearer and Pixie Z like this.

  4. #4
    Member Shearer's Avatar
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    Great write up.
    The thing I found most impressive was that you carried beer in. That's keen. I hope the empties came back out with you.
    Well done.
    Experience. What you get just after you needed it.

  5. #5
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    @Moa Hunter thanks for the info. He looked to be in perfectly fine health. Didn't even look underfed. Just late to cast I guess. @Shearer haha yep- we each carried in a 6pk. 3 beers each on each of our two evenings at camp. Cans of course, so they're significantly lighter on the way out. Even carried out a few extra empties that we found discarded at what had clearly been a campsite in the bush at some point.
    Hunty1, Shearer and mopheadrob like this.

  6. #6
    Member FRST's Avatar
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    Glad to hear the Baikal's doing the business for ya, was a great little rifle while I had it.
    Pixie Z likes this.
    The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt. Prov 12:27

  7. #7
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    Plenty of meat for you both well done , a great trip by all accounts.
    Pixie Z likes this.

  8. #8
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    Wicked mate, great write up and story. Thanks for posting. I went out with a mate about 3-4weeks ago and we saw to stags still in antler.
    Pixie Z likes this.

  9. #9
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    Nice work! Shes a good slog up that hill back to the truck with a load of meat onboard eh!
    Pixie Z likes this.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hunty1 View Post
    Nice work! Shes a good slog up that hill back to the truck with a load of meat onboard eh!
    Its a grunt up out of there all right.

    Well done!
    Pixie Z likes this.
    "The generalist hunter and angler is a well-fed mofo" - Steven Rinella

  11. #11
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    @Hunty1 @Dama dama you're right about that hill. Even without meat it's a big slog. Weighed the packs when we got back after this trip- 33kg and 34kg.
    @FRST it's a great wee rifle. I haven't got round to doing any loads with the data you gave me yet, but even with factory Hornady 130gr SSTs it shoots great. Enjoyed the write up about your Africa trip too! Looked like a great experience!
    Hunty1 likes this.

 

 

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