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Thread: First time hunting Sika

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013

    First time hunting Sika

    Hello everyone, well I am back from my so called "2 week" hunt in the Kaweka Ranges. The weather was piss poor for hunting with horrendous winds most of the time and Chris from East Kaweka Helicopters said that many people found it tough. However, at the time I just thought high winds like that are normal so it didn't bother me too much. I really did like having windproof gear though!

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    Here is a bit of a recount of the 10 days my legs managed to hold out before I did the unthinkable and left the place without having shot every last deer around.

    Day 1: 3pm - Dropped into my hut, sat beside hut and looked across gully - nothing seen. Wind is high and a bit claggy.

    Day 2: 5:50 am - walked to Venison Tops today, nice walk with well marked tracks. When I got there I had a little rest then walked down the track Mangaturu track then sidled of to the left and back around to the hut. No deer seen and only old sign. Just as I was settling in for the evening of new years eve, 8 Wellingtonians turned up at hut. They brought a party with wine, rum and whiskey. They also had outdoor yoga classes and everything. Not what I expected but it was ok.

    Day 3: - Got up a bit late and went for a walk around the clearing by camp. Had only gone about 15 minutes from the hut and couldn't really believe that a hind was walking straight across the clearing obviously crossing over the track that was walked by other trampers the evening before. Honestly I thought I had little chance given all the people who had walked down the centre of this clearing the day before. I had to remind myself at this point that I was hunting and snap back into reality. The deer was walking (not browsing) quite quickly across the clearing to the left. I whipped up my range finders and ranged it at around 200 metres. I thought why the hell did I bother with that when it was that close? My mind must not have been truely awake because when I put the gun up I could just see it's rear for a couple of seconds and then it was out of view. In my mind the deer was heading back to the bush and had dropped off the side. I decided to investigate a little and began plodding towards where the deer was seen last, not really thinking about anything just walking. I came to a little rise and then a nice cosy little gut and that same deer stood up not 50 metres from me. I was more shocked than it was and it FREAKED!
    It didn't pause and started leaping and bounding towards the bush edge 30 metres away. I threw the gun up, argh can't see it. The scope was still set to 9 power! Looked to see where the deer was again and put gun up. There it is, damn it gun stay on the deer... squeeze the trigger, squeeze the trigger harder.... fire dammit... oh the safety catch. Not used to jump shooting deer like this. Flicked off safety and by now the deer had only a few metres to go. Threw up gun put cross hairs on front brown half and bang. By the time I recovered from the recoil the deer was gone. No blood, no noise, no discernible track to follow. In my ignorance I figured I had missed (little did I know how far these deer can run without a blood trail and mortally wounded. I still spent a good hour looking around below where I shot. I mean really how could I miss a deer at that range!!! It was very disappointing to say the least. One of the girls who led the yoga class made it all better. She said, well at least you did that on the first real days hunting and you still have time to get one. She made sense so I picked up my bottom lip and made new plans.

    I decided that stuffing up that deer meant that I had stuffed up that clearing so headed back to base camp. I arrived back at base camp at 1:30 had a short rest then packed up my gear to bivvy camp in the gully behind the hut. By 5pm I was all set up at my bivvy camp

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    I got comfortable on the spur just up behind my bivvy camp and at around 7:45pm turned my head down in front of my bivvy by the creek and thought I saw a stag running away from me with velvet antlers. Again I put down my binoculars and flicked up my range finders and it was gone. After about 20 minutes of desperately glassing the area where I thought I saw this stag I started to wonder whether I had even seen one a all. It might have been a ghost I thought. I didn't have any other excitement that evening and settled down into my first time bivvy camping in the ranges. The wind blew a little but generally it was a great night.

    Day 4: Got up early and glassed all around the area. No sign at all of any deer so I went for a walk down to the creek to get some water for breakfast. I did see some fresher sign down there...

    After breakfast I set off back to the hut around the ridge top to the hut on the way back I some big heavy marks. This deer had basically followed my tracks from the day before for about 10 minutes leading to the bivvy camp. Was I hunting or being hunted by a ghost deer? Oh by the way do these look like large heavy prints for a sika?

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    After getting back to the hut for a while I started to get restless again. I really didn't know where to go next but I thought maybe I should just climb to the top of the range behind camp and glass across the other side of the gully incase the deer that followed my tracks is still around. By 6pm I was in a reasonable place to view the area.

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    That is not where I glassed from but you get the picture of my view.

    I thought I would glass mostly on my side of the gully because from where I was sitting my range finders would not even reach to the bottom of the face I was on, so any thought of shooting a deer on the other side was ruled out. It would keep me amused though.
    Well, after about an hour I spotted what I thought was a deer. I didn't want to imagine things so I kept the bino's on it for quite a while and then it moved. Yes it was a deer and it was browsing in a little gut not far at all from where I had camped the night before.

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    I looked down on my side of the gully and saw a rocky outcrop. I decided I would try and sneak down there. Well trying to sneak down a steep slope with all that adrenaline surging through my body only lasted about 20 metres then I was at a jog then almost a run. Every 40 metres or so I would stop and take another look up across at the deer. It was happily browsing away not a care in the world. I got to the top of the rocky outcrop and tried my range finders. Again no good. I tried it on the bottom of the river, pffft it couldn't even do that. I looked down below me further. Ahuh, there was another rocky outcrop a lot lower down just past a band of mountain beech. I would try to get there. Running, wiggling, risking, swearing, sweating, dangling at times, and finally I was there. Ok catch my breath a little and crawl out to the end of this rock. Range finders, excellent they registered, not so excellent it said 520 metres.
    I could not go any lower, this was it. I had shot a goat a 550 metres before once, other than that I was only really confident out to about 400. By now I realised this was a stag and there was a lot at riding on this shot.
    I decided to do something I had not done before but I had seen done for long shots by using something to sit the stock of the gun on. I found a rock that just the perfect size and slid it under. Ok now ready for the shot. I aimed about a metre over it's back and accounted a little for the wind and pulled the trigger. WHACK!
    The scope hit me just above the eye.

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    That stupid rock idea made me forget about holding the gun. Blood trickled down my face but that wasn't going to stop me. I watched the deer take a few leaps down to the left and then it stopped. I thought only red deer did that! I can only guess it just realised it was kind of running towards where that loud noise came from. This time I forgot about the rock trick and held the gun properly. The deer was kind of facing me, maybe facing a little to my left. I gave it the same amount of holdover as it was still about 510 metres away and I saw the most beautiful thing. It started cartwheeling down the hill. My excitement was only short lived through because once the cartwheeling stopped it started dragging itself by it's front legs down further into the shrubs. Just below where it was now was very steep with waterfalls and almost impenetrable. I remembered the hind at venison tops...

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    Well as you can see from that photo that 500 metres wasn't going to be so easy. I thought the sensible thing to do would be to leave it there and go back in the morning and look for it. Adrenaline and the fear of losing this animal like the hind I may, or may not have shot took over. The time would have been around 8:00pm now. I decided to go for it. I had to hold on to trees and go around drop offs, climb with both hands and crawl an some points across lose rock slides but eventually I was in the spot where the deer was shot at first. I could not see any sign of it. I decided to check every bush lower than that point and on the fourth bush I found him.

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    Well by now the light was changing in a big way. I reckon it must have been about 8:30pm. I decided to make a backpack out of the hind legs like I had seen Josh James Kiwi Bushman do on youtube so started at that. Oh I forgot to mention the shot had gone through just to the right of the brisket and then through to just above the hip and smashed its back bone.

    Josh James also said you can remove hip bones to make it more comfortable and for me this was actually essential because I had a couple of back vertebrae still attached to the hip bone that I couldn't lever off due to the bullet breaking the deers back there. I hope you can still follow this.

    Anyway I got that done with a lot of hacking and I guess wasted meat and set to getting back to the hut. Somehow i lost my head torch in all that drama so had to use a wind up LED Chrisco torch I had in my pouch just in case. It took me 3 hours to get back to the hut using my GPS and Chrisco torch. So that is right I got back to the hut at 12:00pm. I didn't care though there was meat in the meatsafe.
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    Day 5: Today was spent washing blood soaked gear and having a sponge bath. I also txt Chris from East Kaweka Helicopters to tell him I had some meat that he could pick up. Oh I also enjoyed some backsteaks hmmm yum

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    Day 6: Packed up all my gear and headed to another spot for a bivvy camp. The wind was really strong here and I learned a lot about how to set up a fly camp in gale force winds.
    Failed design below

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    I learned this the hard way by having my fly blow off me during the night (Chrisco torch saves the day again). Yes it was raining too so I had to open up my emergency blanket (Christmas present) and wrap my sleeping bag in that and then the tarp over and under me. It was damp but at no stage was I cold.

    Day 7: Made some adjustments to my bivvy design so that it would be more reliable. Basically it was lower profile and used boulders instead of ropes attached to shrubs. I also put the boulders inside so I could tighten the tarp again during the night if the rocks moved.

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    I had no luck spotting anything today either so headed back to hut. On the way back to the hut I got a txt from Chris saying he picked up the meat and there were flies in the meat safe and that he had left a spare headtorch in my chilly bin at the hut. Incredible huh!

    Day 8: I had a rest most of the day today but in the afternoon I decided to go to the same ridge where I saw the stag from. This time I moved down river a bit more to look over new ground. At about 6:30pm I saw a deer moving from around half way up down to my left on a 45 degree angle to the bush. I had no chance of doing the same trick I did with the stag on this one so left it.

    Day 9: I decided to go and bivvy camp right down in the river pretty must just under where I saw the deer go last night. I found a beauty little spot and made a bivvy I am proud of.

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    At about 5:30 I climbed up about 200- 250 metres and positioned myself just above where I saw the deer yesterday. it was really windy and the dust kept blowing into my eyes. I started cursing the wind gods. Why when I bivvy camp the wind always stuffs things up. I lay back quite a bit behind my pack and rested every now and then peaking down the open clearing to the left and right of me.
    At about 8:10 I saw something different to my right. Yes confirmed the deer had popped out of the bush and was keenly browsing in the shrubs only 200 metres away. I figured because of the 45 degree slope to aim a fraction low if anything but pretty must straight at it. I aimed low just behind the shoulder. It felt really good but the deer took off straight after the shot to the left. In a split second it was out of sight. I skidded down to the place where I felt I had shot it and no sign of blood what so ever. I remember not being able to find that first deer and thinking I had missed. I also remember how far that stag had dragged itself with a broken back and a bullet having traveled through it's internal organs. Argh!!! This was really starting to piss me off. I told myself out loud, it was a good shot, I don't miss from 200 metres! I searched and searched as the light faded. There was NO blood, no obvious tracks either. I started to think seriously about getting a dog before I come back Sika hunting again. At least it could track wounded animals. To be honest I had put a lot of work into this plan and it all came together apart from now I possibly missed this deer.
    I decided to go back up to where I shot from and see if I could really pin point the spot I shot it from. I started around to the right and not moments after that decision was made I saw some furry brown skin ahead. I was completely alone but let out a roar of happiness.

    What relief. Don't you love it when a plan comes together. This beats shooting a deer 100 metres from the truck back on the farms at home for sure. It was there and it was dead. It had a completely smashed front shoulder and the bullet passed through the heart and yet it still ran 35 metres from where it was shot.

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    and the heart

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    So a Sika deer that has been heart shot and had it's front shoulder smashed can run 35 metres and leave no trace of blood. Him maybe head or neck shots are the only way to stop these guys in their tracks.

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    Day 10: I decided today that my legs where about done. Just above my knees really ached from the down hills the uphills I could deal with. I had some meat in the chiller at Chris's and it was probably past it's freeze by date and knowing that there were flies in the meat safe didn't help any. I wanted to stay for 2 full weeks but only got to day 9. I rang Chris and within 45 minutes he arrived and whisked me back to civilization.

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    When chopping off the back legs on the last deer I shot it's membrane and bones didn't look the usual white colour. It was very skinny I think. And now that I look at this photo the thing doesn't look too good does it?
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  2. #2
    Gone But Not Forgotten Toby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Wouldn't you like to know
    Nice story there, hows the eye feeling now?
    Remington700.270 likes this.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Oh yes my eye is fine, it didn't hurt at the time but I don't think I will be doing that trick again!
    Toby likes this.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Dannevirke, southern Ruahines
    Nice one Brother good on you for getting out there by yourself and having a good break,Whats the go with the axle? old rugby injury??.Nice post look forward to the next one

    Remington700.270 likes this.

  5. #5
    Member Nathan F's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Deep South
    Good work
    Remington700.270 likes this.

  6. #6
    Member ANTSMAN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    awesome report mate well done!
    Remington700.270 likes this.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013

  8. #8
    Member JoshC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Fantastic report mate, one of the best I've read on here. Thanks for sharing
    Remington700.270 likes this.
    I'm drawn to the mountains and the bush, it's where life is clear, where the world makes the most sense.

  9. #9
    Muppets Inc. SIKAHUNTER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Awesome report mate

    Sent from my LT25i

  10. #10
    K95 is offline
    Member K95's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    That was awesome mate, the chrisco torch bit was gold haha

  11. #11
    Almost literate. veitnamcam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Great report cheers for posting.

    Heart shots more often than not result in a"heart run" up to 100m.
    Also as it can no longer pump blood trails can be very light.

    Aim halfway between brisket and back this will put it smack in the lungs shock the spine and drop it on the spot
    338 and Hunt4life like this.
    "Hunting and fishing" fucking over licenced firearms owners since ages ago.

  12. #12
    OPCz Rushy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Nor West of Auckland on the true right of the Kaipara River
    What a brilliant trip you had. Well done.
    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!
    Rule 1: Treat every firearm as loaded
    Rule 2: Always point firearms in a safe direction
    Rule 3: Load a firearm only when ready to fire
    Rule 4: Identify your target beyond all doubt
    Rule 5: Check your firing zone
    Rule 6: Store firearms and ammunition safely
    Rule 7: Avoid alcohol and drugs when handling firearms

  13. #13
    Member Pengy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Up in da hills somewhere near Nelson
    Nice report thanks. Good on you for getting out there and learning by doing.
    I need to ask though, what is the story with the flower tucked in your jacket?
    Remington700.270 likes this.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Hahaaa, that is called boredom and extra camoflage!
    Pengy likes this.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    You will do well with your hunting because you are a fast learner and tenacious. And not afraid to ask questions.
    Great story. You really took the reader along with you.
    To be honest, I thought that when you were planning this trip you were maybe a wannabe and full of shit. But you sir, are the real deal.
    Remington700.270 likes this.



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