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  • 1 Post By footsore

Thread: Roar hunt 2016

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013

    Roar hunt 2016

    My Roar was just about over and it was looking like I might go home empty handed again. The first few days had been pretty wet and Id holed up in a hut in the lower valley with just a few brief stalks when the rain eased from time to time. The plan was to move up valley and fly camp once the weather broke and the rivers dropped.

    A couple of restful but unproductive days in the hut

    My patience was eventually rewarded and the rain eased and stopped overnight. The next morning the cloud was lifting with just occasion spells of drizzle. With a touch of cabin fever Id shouldered the pack and made my way up to the head of the valley. The side streams still needed some caution when crossing and I was thankful that I didnt need to tackle the main river which still looked pretty intimidating. At least the ratty whether had kept other hunters out of my valley.

    Finally the rain eased to occasional drizzle

    From the fly camp I had explored the spurs, several side streams and the head waters of the main valley over a couple of days. Most of the sign was on the bush terraces in the main valley, but the animals themselves were pretty elusive. No stags seen and Id only heard the occasional half-hearted moan, always in the hours of darkness. The temperatures were pretty mild for this time of year and it seemed that the rut proper was yet to start.

    Exploring the headwaters

    Lying in my pit on my last morning, the stove humming with a brew in the making, I waited for the first signs of a lightening sky. I thought about my options this morning, last night the stag had roared several times from up river the first full blown roars Id heard. I was guessing he had been at the wallow Id found a couple of days back on the long bush terrace and thats where Id be heading. I have a chance today but it will be my last one.

    This trip had been a bit frustrating so far, it looked like I had been too early for the rut as there had been no roaring and so far only a hind seen with no accompanying boyfriend. Id been tempted to take her for meat but the roar is the roar and I wanted some stag action so let her be.
    I was now able to see the tree tops silhouetted against the sky still pretty dark but time to get my gear together. I had the last gulp of coffee and wriggled out of the sleeping bag. It was cool all right, I quickly donned the fleece that had been my pillow overnight and pulled my beanie down before facing the delights of wet socks and boots. Stumbling to my feet I could feel the aches gained over the last few days nothing too disabling but I knew Id been working!

    I picked up the rifle fed the magazine, ensuring the chamber was clear and put the safety on no point in taking risks- the stags territory is a wee walk up river yet and anyway its still too dark to shoot. The day pack and binos were gathered up and I walked out to the bush edge to view the extensive river flats.
    Before continuing I pause to see if the binos can penetrate the darkness the shapes out on the flats are vague but nothing looks very deer-like. I note as usual the light wind is blowing down valley which suits my plans. Theres a heavy dew, not too far off a frost. Standing there absent mindedly mulling over the prevailing conditions and wriggling my wet booted toes to get some warmth I was pulled from my thoughts by a mighty roar from up river. This fella is going off fantastic.

    I could literally feel the excitement flooding over me Im lucking out at last, Im in the right place at the right time. This is exactly why we keep coming back to the hills every April. Its pretty primeval the way a stags roar affects you- a real natural high. Cold wet feet are forgotten, the frustrations of the last few fruitless days melt away - its on!
    I want to run to the bush terrace that Im pegging hes on but sense prevails and I stalk slowly towards his calls using the bush edge as cover. Hes a good 20 minutes walk up valley but there is no sense acting like an idiot and spooking his ladies or any satellite stags that might be between me and my trophy. The dawn chorus is starting up now and visibility improving by the minute.

    By the time I cross the side stream under his terrace its fully light. He roars again maybe 300m away and almost immediately a second animal on the face above the terrace answers. I feel that surge of excitement again Im buzzing. With the two stags egging each other on I can stalk in on them in silence, with the surety of knowing where they are at all times. Reaching the base of the terrace I sit and empty the water from my boots so I dont slosh as I walk. I purposely take a couple of minutes just to try to relax a little no point letting buck fever cloud your judgement at this crucial point of the stalk.
    I climb to the terrace, peering carefully over the crest, but see nothing but vegetation. I figure the original stag was a couple of hundred metres ahead near his wallow. The challenger seemed to be approaching from the high ground to my right. I expect action at any time now, so as quietly as possible feed a round into the chamber and put the safety on. Nervous about trying to move in through the bush I wait to see if either stag would appear before me. Nothing develops however both are roaring intermittently but seem to be standing off from one another.

    With my heart in my mouth I slowly stalk in towards the wallow area. This is where things often go wrong for me spooking an unseen animal by kicking a stone or snapping branches as I pass, not to mention the vagaries of the wind. I move slowly with a pause every few steps searching for any clue about my quarry. The stag at the wallow has ceased roaring, but I can hear some guttural moans occasionally. I figure he is playing canny with the challenger approaching.
    The interloper is roaring more frequently now, maybe thinking he has won the war of verbal intimidation or maybe he is trying to illicit a response to locate his foe. This fella seems right up slope and heading down my way. I decide to stop, find some cover and have a go at him. If I keep stalking towards the wallow chances are this new fella will end up on the terrace downwind from me and pick up my scent. Im worried hed not only scarper himself but also alert the wallow stag.

    Tucked in behind some wind fall, my eyes are on stalks looking for any signs of movement that might give him away. He too has stopped roaring now but I could hear him cautiously approaching no doubt on the alert for the stag hes hoping to see off. The rustling of shrubs being pushed past and the occasional snapping of a twig betrays his progress as he gets closer and closer. I settle in behind the rifle, safety off just waiting for the stag to emerge.
    Seconds seemed like minutes as the whole world shrank to my view of maybe 30 metres. This excitement, this intense concentration is the addictive factor in hunting especially hunting in the roar when both man and beast get really amped up.

    This was it the point that the last four days of hunting and hardship had led to, the last few short minutes where it would all come together or all disappear. I recalled my last hunting trip where my struggling a few seconds to find a decent sight picture had cost me the animal. Its heart-breaking how the difference between hard won success or abject failure can often come down to just a few seconds. I have to be on top of my game now.
    I see a slight movement of the koromiko in front of me, barely noticeable but a give-away to a hunter awaiting his quarry. This was the moment -my finger had already stated to take the pressure of the trigger as the animal finally broke cover.


    Lets be careful out there guys we are all capable of making crucial mistakes -put your doubts where they should be ... at the forefront of your mind

    tikka likes this.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    I wrote this up on another forum a couple of years back but thought I'd re hash it as it is that time of year again.

    Have a great Roar all, but take care and lets all get home again.

  3. #3
    Member stug's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Oxford, Canterbury
    Good point, had me going there.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Well put, we must not let the excitement of the hunt take over. We must always treat the hunt with caution there could be other hunters in the area. Identify our targets beyond all doubt.
    Well written had me going also.



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