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Thread: The Ruahines - You get out what you put in

  1. #1
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    The Ruahines - You get out what you put in

    Haven’t put up any posts etc for a while so thought I’d talk about the last few trips I’ve done this summer in the Ruahines.

    The first trip was an overnight volunteer trip into the Northern Ruahines in November to service some of the 1000 or so stoat traps in that end of the park. I didn’t bring a rifle as I figured I had a decent bit of walking to do and the traps came first.

    Got dropped at Puketaramea peak by heli and checked and rebaited traps down to Iron Bark Hut. I was part of a group that established that line 2 years earlier and I was happy to see some of my craftily laid traps with dead stuff in them. I spooked a pair of hinds and yearlings in some fern on the descent. They barked their heads off but didn’t seem too bothered as they slowly exited the scene. Nice to see.

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    Arriving at the hut I fixed up a brew and sat on the deck watching the hut slip for the evening.
    A stag fed his way out into it at 6pm, and hung around for an hour before he moved off, his belly full. I started to regret not bringing the rifle by then.

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    The next day I was due to go up onto the ridge and check traps to Lake Colenso, before the helicopter picked me up from Colenso hut. I’d never been in that area before and I had a good time slowly making my way across to the hut through the limestone country. That area is pretty special.

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    I had a few things come up so couldn’t get away before Xmas. I wanted to see NYE out in the bush and my girlfriend wanted to go camping under the stars. I figured we could kill two birds with one stone and so we set off up the Makaroro to camp out for a couple of nights.

    This was the mrs first real experience with river crossings and while being a bit cagey about the threat of eels, she soon got over it and settled into the technique of it, picking her routes carefully.

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    A few bends in the river later I was getting to a spot that I thought would have a deer on it. I was proven right when I looked up to spy a yearling high in a rocky gutter, tearing into a lone five finger with reckless abandon.

    Mrs had seen the deer too, her first wild deer, and she immediately settled in behind me while I set up for a shot. I ranged her at 220 yds. A gimme for my little 7mm08, generally. I heard a solid thwack at the shot and the well hit deer stumbled down the gut before disappearing into a finger of scrub and sending rocks into the riverbed.

    It then dawned on the girlfriend that I’d have to go up and look for it.

    “Is this hunting? Taking massive risks? For a deer?”

    I said well, not always and that I wouldn’t go anywhere dodgy. She was ok with that, and together we planned my route up to where she’d been. 2 hrs later I was perched on the gutter and unable to climb higher as Mrs watched me from the riverbed through the binoculars. It was getting dark and the smart move was to try a different approach the next day where I could actually see my path.

    So we spent the end of 2021 sipping wine and planning the next attempt at recovering the deer. To be fair I did all the planning, and the response I got was “Be careful”. Fair enough.

    The next day I was off downstream of the slip to try come up behind it and drop down to where she had gone to. I bashed through a fair bit of rubbish to get there, only for the dog to tell me in no uncertain terms that she was down a vertical face that I couldn’t access without a rope. 5 hrs of trying every angle possible to get down there later, I couldn’t do it. I was gutted.

    We shifted camp towards the upper section of the river, and I pondered on what I could have done differently. I found no clear answer in my muddled thoughts, and eventually decided to try for a shot at redemption with an evening hunt. The hunting gods didn’t smile on me, and I saw nothing but empty faces and slips as I ventured onward into the gnarled gorges of the Makaroro.

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    The next trip was last week for 3 nights but in reality a year in planning, DoC paperwork, Covid restrictions and herding cats. I’d thrown my hat in to get a chance to repaint a hut for the Backcountry Trust. I got an email back from Megan the coordinator.

    “How would you like to repaint Otukota? Can you get a crew together?”

    The answer was of course I can! So I rustled up a couple of workmates and we were soon in a very heavy Squirrel headed into the Northern Ruahines.

    The first night was a start on the prep and an evening hunt. Our pilot Owen had told us to check the hut face first and we were rewarded with the sight of three spikers skylined on a ridge for a few minutes before feeding away from us. A great start!

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    Day two was 10 hrs of prep scraping flaky paint and making sure we were doing it well. Plenty of rounds of mould remover and sugar soap were needed but we knew what we had to do to be able to get in another hunt.


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    Greg had a hunch about the hut slip so he took off to go sit there, and Dan and I decided to go up one branch of the river to a big slip that looked good on the map.

    A good walk later, with a few deep pools to cross and we were sitting watching the slip. It looked like nothing was happening due to a swirly wind but I spotted a stag step into a hole in the canopy above the slip at 500 yards.

    Dan couldn’t find him in the binos and so he asked if he was any good. I could barely whisper that he was as the stag lifted his head up to check for danger. I could see 6 bottom tines and 3 times on the one top I could see, with decent length and width. Yes, he was definitely good for the Ruahines.

    Together we came to the conclusion that he probably wouldn’t be hard underneath, but by the time we got there the wind had swung and the stag slipped away.

    The third day was getting the buildings primed and two coats of paint on. Another big day, but we still had plenty of time for our last chance at a deer for the trip.

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    The three of us went up another fork in the river. With a perfect wind, Dans dog was very keen as we slowly made our way upriver. Another big slip was spotted and so we parked up to watch it as the dog was getting keener by the minute.

    Dan then spied two deer high on the slip. It didn’t take too long for Greg and I to find them, a spiker and a young four point stag. The spiker looked like the one to go for.

    As they fed in and out of scrubby areas we ranged them at 380 yards or so. Dan didn’t want to shoot, and Greg told me to go for it.
    I wasted no time in getting behind Dans 300 WSM, and as the spiker quartered down the slip I fired at his shoulder. I was rewarded with the spiker running into an small patch of bush and not exiting.

    Climbing the slip just on dark was a bit hairy but Dans dog pulled off a beautiful find and so we came away with some venison for the trip, getting back to the hut knackered at 1am.


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    Day four dawned with fresh deer heart for breakfast and Otukota looked well painted in the light of our final day on site.


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    As we flew out of Otukota I asked the boys
    “So what’d you think of that? Was it worth it?”

    Of course it was. A trip into the Ruahines always is!

  2. #2
    Member Micky Duck's Avatar
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    great writeup...sleep easy you did all you could to recover the earlier deer.... it happens... great job on restoring the hut.
    bunji and RUMPY like this.

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    Nice. What goes around, comes around. :-)

  5. #5
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    What a wonderful place, it is to live 200 years.
    Congratulations on the hunt.
    The bomb likes this.
    There is still gunpowder left, the Grim Reaper can wait.

  6. #6
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    Nice work!
    "Hunting and fishing" fucking over licenced firearms owners since ages ago.

    308Win One chambering to rule them all.

  7. #7
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    Nice

  8. #8
    Member outdoorlad's Avatar
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    Excellent work lads.
    Shut up, get out & start pushing!

  9. #9
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    Man, there are days where I wish I was closer to the Ruahines (and Kawekas).

    This is one of those days. I love it in there.

  10. #10
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    Great post mate, have been reading about the recent work done to Otukota hut. Cheers

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 30late View Post
    Great post mate, have been reading about the recent work done to Otukota hut. Cheers
    The new woodshed is a particular highlight. Been getting a few complaints about the colour but I had no say in it. I was just there to whack the paint on. I think it doesn’t look too bad actually. Certainly easy to see the hut from a chopper now
    Moa Hunter likes this.

  12. #12
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    Well written, enjoyed the read.
    Cheers

  13. #13
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    Great read thanks.

  14. #14
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    @hebe - do you know if the rockfall blocking the Waikamaka river upstream has been washed out or filled in yet? There were stories of a bit of a swim required if heading down river from Wakelings Hut a year or so ago...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickoli View Post
    @hebe - do you know if the rockfall blocking the Waikamaka river upstream has been washed out or filled in yet? There were stories of a bit of a swim required if heading down river from Wakelings Hut a year or so ago...
    I read in the hut book that about 5-6 months after that entry was written the rockfall washed out, but didn’t go that far to confirm it.
    Nickoli likes this.

 

 

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