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Thread: One Proud Father

  1. #1
    Throbbing Member Dorkus's Avatar
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    One Proud Father

    With leave in for a long weekend, the truck was packed and I was on the road by lunchtime Thursday. The Zook’s 1.6L engine singing for its supper as it strained to haul half a ton of hunting gear, food, rifles, a hunter and one very excited little black dog. My excitement built steadily as we made the drive from Palmy up the central plateau into Sika country. This was to be a trip hunting from the truck as a base camp so no need to skimp on luxuries.

    I arrived at the property I have recently gained access to which backs onto the Kaimanawa Forest Park and after checking in with the manager, I made my way out the back to the bush edge where I would hunt. By late afternoon I had sorted out the kit I would need for an evening hunt and had made a plan to head along the bush edge and try and catch a Jap making its way into the open before dark.

    I left the truck and made my way quietly through the open ground glassing as I went. The quartering wind blowing over my left shoulder dampened my hopes somewhat and meant that “Harley”, my 1yr old Lab X GSP, wouldn’t be much use for now.

    The Mrs and I got Harley at 8 weeks old from a hunter just out of Palmerston North. Both her parents are hunters; mum is a 50/50 Black Lab/GSP who primarily hunts deer in the Ruahines and dad is a pure bred Chocolate Lab who works mainly on ducks. I have been training her with the intention of bush stalking over her from the beginning. This has been a long process and has taken a serious amount of time and effort. This is not made any easier by the fact that she is my fiancee’s baby and is treated like a princess at home. It is one thing to have a working dog who is trained and treated like a hunting machine - rules are rules, no exceptions; it is another to have a pet who is doted upon and lives the good life as an inside dog during the week and is expected to perform on the weekends in the bush. This is the balance we strive for with Harley, and I think we are getting there.

    After a short while of glassing and moving slowly along the bush edge the weather started to pack it in. I made the call to head into the bush and hunt back up into the wind, so I cut into the beech and headed down wind to minimise the area my scent would disturb. Once far enough into the bush to allow myself to hunt back up wind, we began to sidle at right angles to the wind with the hope of Harley picking up on a scent. After an hour or so of sidling and nothing to get too excited about, I turned Harley into the wind and began making a track for the truck. We picked our way slowly back towards the open ground, working all the way on Harley’s range and basic handling. She is still a young dog and very much learning the ropes, this trip being only her sixth or seventh hunt so any opportunity to practise needs to be utilised. As we neared the bush edge Harley turned her nose skyward and started winding, telling me there was a deer not too far away. A simple hand gesture from me gave her the go ahead to lead me in on the wind and we were in sneak mode. Harley stopped every now and again to hone in on her target and over the next 10 minutes she led me quietly to within range of the deer.

    A quiet snapping of a branch just ahead of us had me on edge as I knew the deer was less than 10m away but I still could not see it. Harley heard it too and looked back to me for instruction. I gave her a “sit” command by extending my arm towards her with an open palm. She duly sat and waited, both our ears pricked to try and pinpoint the deer. After a couple of minutes of silence another quiet crack and a scuffing of hoof gained our attention. This combined with the steady breeze filled with the deer’s scent was too much for the young and inexperienced dog, she began to slowly edge forward eagerly sniffing at the air. “Hssst” I gave a gently hiss to correct her. A clattering of hooves and crashing of branches as the deer heard my correction and it was all over. We had blown it. I left Harley on her stop for a few more minutes to reinforce the command before releasing her and heading back to the truck.

    In hindsight maybe I shouldn’t have hissed at her, maybe I should have taken a step or two myself to try and get a shot. Then again I have been told by more than one accomplished deer dog trainer that to shoot a deer when the dog hasn’t done everything absolutely perfectly is setting yourself (and the dog) up for failure in the long run. With that advice ringing in my ears I returned to the truck for a feed and an early night knowing I had done the right thing.

    The morning broke to rain and low cloud. My plan for a morning of glassing was out and a new plan was hatched. The Zook packed once more and I was off to hunt some public land where a bunch of mates and forum associates were once again meeting for an annual get together and Sika stag shootout.

    I arrived at super secret spot X (Clements Mill Road main campsite) by mid afternoon where a plan was agreed as to who was to hunt where.* Noting I have never shot a Sika in the bush and the fact that Harley and I are both learning, I was not overly fussed on where I was to hunt.* As a result I opted to just have a wander from camp and enjoy hunting over my dog.

    We made our way up onto a small ridge just above the campsite and began climbing, a steady wind blowing gently from my right. After gaining a little elevation Harley began indicating strongly into the gully to my right. It looked scrubby and horrible, "no way of moving quietly through there" I said to her under my breath and giving her a pat. We continued along the ridge for another 50m or so, with the dog still winding into the gully and the country opening up a little, I gestured for her to follow her nose. She led me round the head of the gully and along another small ridge maybe 100m upwind of the one we had come up. As we crossed the top of the ridge Harley’s demeanour all of a sudden changed as she now picked her way carefully and quietly one or two steps at a time, all the while staring into the bush in the direction we were heading. I followed her as quietly as I could, picking my way through windfall and tight patches for another hundred metres. As we neared the end of the small ridge Harley stopped dead in her tracks, nose slightly lifted sniffing at the air. She then stared intently across the small gut in front of us, every muscle in her body tense. Then lifted her nose and sniffed some more, then stared again, then sniffed but would not take another step.

    Staring into the bush where Harley was indicating I could make out the left shoulder and half the neck of a Sika hind standing facing us. I quietly raised the rifle and eased the safety off. At the sight of me coming on aim, Harley sat and waited for the noise. I shuffled half a step to my right to reveal the rest of the deer from behind a small tree, as the crosshairs settled on the base of the neck I squeezed the trigger gently and watched through the scope as the hind crumpled where she stood. My first bush stalked Jap was on the deck and Harley had her first in the bag!

    I sat for a couple of minutes to let it soak in and let the adrenaline drain so as to not take the next step too quickly and stuff up a good training opportunity. I gave Harley a good pat and some muted praise before giving her the command to continue the hunt. She led me down into the gut between where I had fired the shot and the rise where the deer lay dead. In doing this we lost its wind. Harley switched to ground scenting and without too much trouble led me where the hind had obviously walked only minutes before being shot. The track led Harley and I around up wind of where she lay dead, and in on the ground scent to her final resting place. Another pat and some more praise for the pup before taking some photos and dressing out the deer for the big walk back to camp.

    With the hind slung on my back I pushed my way through the whole 60m of bush to the gravel road and made my way back to camp. The entire hunt took less than an hour and a half including the time to dress out the deer and walk the 5mins to camp. Another big plus (particularly for Harley) is that because of the short carry I was able to bring the whole animal out which means a heap of dog food from the flaps, scraps and bones.

    I am over the moon at how Harley performed and to say I am a proud dad would be a massive understatement. The Mrs is even proud of her baby’s hunting ability – So much so she is going to let me tan the skin and keep it in the house!

    *

    *




    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
    jakewire, P38, Shootm and 39 others like this.
    “The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.” - Thucydides 463BC

  2. #2
    Member sako75's Avatar
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    That is truely awesome. A couple of firsts that will be celebrated forever
    Dorkus likes this.

  3. #3
    Sending it Gibo's Avatar
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    Nice work and great read thanks
    Dorkus likes this.

  4. #4
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    Well done Harley. Cool story


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Member Timmay's Avatar
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    Thank you for the write up and well bloody done!!
    A deer dog is definitely a dream for me one day.
    Keep us posted on your learnings and successes!

  6. #6
    SGR
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    Awesome stuff!

  7. #7
    Almost literate. veitnamcam's Avatar
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    That reads very well.
    Congrats to you both and thanks for sharing.
    "Hunting and fishing" fucking over licenced firearms owners since ages ago.

  8. #8
    Ex stick thrower madjon_'s Avatar
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    Bloody good write-up and well done to you both.
    Dorkus likes this.
    Real guns start with the number 3 or bigger and make two holes, one in and one out." -

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  9. #9
    GSP Mad Munsey's Avatar
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    Rule 7: Avoid alcohol and drugs when handling firearms

  10. #10
    If your not fast your last Shootm's Avatar
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    Nice one Adam and Harley.
    Well done mate.
    Dorkus likes this.

    I Have Sexdaily. I mean Dyslexia! Fcuk!

  11. #11
    Caretaker jakewire's Avatar
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    That was bloody good Dorkus, I enjoyed reading that
    What a great effort you have put into that dog, well done.
    Dorkus likes this.
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  12. #12
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    congrates @Dorkus looking forward to those moments with a up and coming young pup myself later in the year. Is it a custom dog jacket? made out of fleece.

  13. #13
    Throbbing Member Dorkus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbear View Post
    congrates @Dorkus looking forward to those moments with a up and coming young pup myself later in the year. Is it a custom dog jacket? made out of fleece.
    No not custom. Yes made from fleece. It's called the Jones dog coat by Stoney Creek $50 from H&F.
    “The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.” - Thucydides 463BC

  14. #14
    Member ROKTOY's Avatar
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    A well written account. top notch. proof your training is working, well done to you both.

  15. #15
    Member Dundee's Avatar
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    Great read Dorkus and good work on a well trained dog on the go.
    "Thats not a knife, this is a knife"
    Rule 2: Always point firearms in a safe direction
    CFD

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