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Thread: A seven year vendetta

  1. #1
    Member JoshC's Avatar
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    A seven year vendetta

    Old stags are wise and will not grow old by being dumb. An old stag doesn't often make mistakes. If they do and get away with it they learn quickly, they will develop their senses and are all the more careful next time round. A hunter is often the same. As we hunt we learn more about our quarry, develop our hunting skill and senses. From experience we learn different approaches to our hunting, what works and what doesn’t, and sometimes we get another chance.

    On April 8th 2007 I stalked quietly up a prominent ridge on which I had heard a stag roaring on during the night before. Roar hunting wasn't new to me, but as a young hunter I still had a lot to learn. As I crept through the thick undergrowth I periodically stopped, let out a bellow and waited for a few moments before moving on.

    After repeating this sequence a number of times I eventually reached a huge rutting pad, right on the edge of a steep drop off on this ridge. It had an awesome view over a large basin, and put its owner in a very commanding position. I sat down, the musky smell of fresh stag lingering in the air, took a couple of breaths and let out a roar.

    Before I had even finished my roar the surrounding bush erupted! The stag, previously hidden in thick pungas behind me, bellowed his utter disgust at the intruder who had snuck into his territory. Before I could respond there he was, chest puffed out, neck swollen, covered in piss, cum and mud. He had me pinned down; I was in the open and now so was he. He eyeballed me, trying to suss out what this camo’ed crouching thing on his pad was.

    Stags around home don't grow big racks; they're bush stags who live on poor tucker. But while he eyeballed me there was enough time to see he had good length and spread for our area, and a few points. He wasn't old, certainly not in his prime yet, but he was a very good animal.

    Then as quickly as he'd arrived he spun on his hind quarters and was swallowed by the darkening bush and crown fern. Sh*t! I was pissed. I sat down, heart pumping, knees shaking and replayed the whole thing in my head. Should I have tried the snap shot? Should I have slowly raised my 270? Should I have shot him at all? I vowed to hunt him again and get another look at him.



    I had to go back to Uni after that weekend, and didn't return home for a few weeks. I headed straight back to that ridge to try again. The wind was perfect as I anxiously snuck up the ridge towards the rutting pad, hoping he’d be still holed up with some late cycling hinds. No luck though, the pad hadn't been used in days.

    Every roar since that day I have dedicated a couple of days to hunt this stag, and every year he'd return to the same rutting pad, the same area he was so well in tune with. We knew he was a master stag, often he'd bellow an hour or so after dark, and we'd hear him from our house a few kms away clear as day. The other stags would shut up when he roared. We knew his roar; experienced hunters will know what I mean.

    I became very familiar with this stags territory, but only ever got one or two chances at him and every time I f*cked it up, or the environment did it for me. His pad was so strategically placed that it was only accessible from one direction IF the wind was perfect. If not, he'd scent me and sneak off, and once I'd scented the area up he'd move on and lay low for a few days. Where? I don't know, I never found out. The more I hunted him, the more challenging it got. I found his wallows, rubbed up trees, another roaring pad, and his beds, saw his hinds, smelt him, heard him, caught glimpses of him but never laid eyes on him properly for another few years.



    Fast forward to the roar of 2011. A friend and I were sitting high on a hill above the river and opposite the ridge the old stag was held up. We'd heard him roaring at midnight the night before so knew he was around. Right on dark after a long time glassing I spotted him, walking slowly through the tussock clearings several hundred metres below us, in the direction of the bush covered ridge. It was him, no doubt. Same huge body, same antler shape, with the strange throw back....we hit the ground running, in an attempt to get close enough for a shot before he hit the bush line.

    Stags can cover ground so fast, and in the short time it'd taken us to hit his trail in the long grass, he was cresting the hill and the bush had swallowed him up. We never got within 500 metres of him but have time to see he had developed into a reasonable 12 point stag. We sat down, buggered after our sprint and contemplated our options. It was now too dark to hunt him further and risk spooking him so we sulked home, beaten again. As if to rub salt in the wound, he let out a couple of bellows from inside the dark bush and then shut up.

    Easter Friday, 2013. Dad called me to let me know the old boy was back on his ridge roaring late into the night. With the forecasted northerly breeze, Dad explained what I already knew. This breeze would give me the best possible chance to check out his rutting pad and wallows in a silent fashion first thing in the morning. Leaving my home at 5am on Saturday after very little sleep had me parking the truck and tightening my bootlaces right on day break.

    As I made my way into the dark bush the smell of stag immediately filled my nostrils. My GSP winded the breeze strongly. Surely not this soon I thought, but positioned myself under a tree and let out a low moan anyway. An immediate lazy answer below me got my stomach churning. I was so nervous; I knew exactly where he was…his big wallow! I sat for a few moments, waiting for him to roar again, to try and pinpoint his movements. The next roar was an angry one, but he was holding fast. I chose to close the gap.

    At a fast trot I made my way down the well-used game trail towards the hard to find wallow. I knew the route well. Pip, close at heel could sense my excitement and panted loudly not realising the seriousness of the situation, which frustrated me immensely. I tied her to a tree and told her I'd be back soon, and to sh*t the f*ck up! In what felt like seconds I was less than a hundred metres from the wallow. For some reason the bush was deathly quiet.

    I picked out a large tree and sat behind it, then let out a quiet roar back in the direction I had come from. The stag answered immediately and I heard him stamp his way around the wallow on the hard ground. This is it I thought, there's only one way out of this gully and it was past me. In my sweating palms I cradled my rifle, loaded it quietly and set my Zeiss set on 3 power, checked the lenses, then I lifted the horn and roared again. This time I heard ferns moving, and sticks breaking. He was coming.

    Suddenly I felt as if something wasn’t right. There was no noise. He’d stopped. Somehow he knew. I’m sure it was because everything was quiet, too quiet. I scanned 180 degrees in front of me with my scope, expecting him to be peering around a tree at me. No such luck. He had me stumped, I had no idea what to do, I couldn’t stalk forwards quietly enough, I didn’t even want to move, I knew he was close, I could smell him. Then I saw it, an antler, only the top three tines…with that strange throwback, but no vitals for a positive ID or a clear shot. Sh*t! And just like that, a slight breeze wafted over my shoulder and he ghosted off! F*ck f*ck f**cck!!! I could have cried.

    I stalked the short distance to the wallow hoping he’d just gone back to rolling in the mud, but no, all I was rewarded with was destroyed pungas, bushes and wet mud splattered everywhere. So close again. Gutted I headed back out, to find Pip ever so happy to see me return.





    All day Saturday I thought about that hunt. I’d done everything perfectly, yet still he eluded me. It pissed me off. No other animal has ever had this effect on me. Come 4 o’clock I found myself sitting in the winter crop waiting for an easy deer to pop out as evening fell. But I ignored the kale and turnips as I glassed the scrubby faces where the old boy was safely holed up somewhere.

    On the river flats some parries squawked. I glassed through the gloom, hoping it to be a stag upsetting them. Then on the far side of the valley a small mob of lambs parted in unusual fashion, and I picked him up. The old boy, out in the open with his nose on the ground tracking an in heat hind. He eventually caught up with her, letting everyone know his success with a lustful roar.
    I replied to his roar, hoping to keep him excited enough that he would stay in the open long enough for me to close the 1km to his position. After trading roars for a few minutes he was worked up to the point where he kept roaring regardless of my answers. Now was the time to get closer. I backtracked, picking the long way round. Making damn sure the wind wouldn’t f*ck it up for me this time.

    Every few minutes I’d let out a moan, just to let him know I was still about. It was now almost too dark to see further than a hundred metres, but luckily for me my scope excelled in low light. With huge anticipation I worked my way up the scrub face, conscious of the darkening sky, but also of my heart rate and increased heavy breathing. I needed to be able to take that shot.

    After what seemed like hours I had positioned myself at the base of a big Rata stump, below the skyline. A huge full moon was rising directly between the ridge top and me, lengthening my shooting light. I glassed the area he was roaring from earlier, but he was nowhere to be seen. The stag had gone quiet, busy maybe? Back in the bush? I decided to let out a roar. I didn’t even get finished when an earth shattering bellow ripped out from inside the bush edge. He was still there.

    I replied, a little angrier this time, hoping to entice him out. I had barely lowered my roaring horn when I heard the thud thud thud of incoming hooves, then heard him stop and snort loudly. I looked up and could make him out standing silhouetted by the moon on the ridgeline less than 20 metres away. He was staring straight at me. I raised my rifle, my scope clearly picking him up as the stag I’ve been after for so long, and I settled the crosshairs on his neck. For a split second I thought about lowering my gun and letting him go, but instinctively I squeezed the trigger.

    With the muzzle blast in the low light and the recoil of my rifle I never saw the shot, but it felt good and I heard the bullet strike. I knew he was down, so sat and waited for a moment with ringing ears before getting my headlight out and walking the short distance to find him lying expired in the bracken fern. I dragged him into an open spot and sat down with him. What a hunt, and what a way to end so many years of failed attempts.

    He was a grand old beast, built like a horse, but his head was on its way backwards, no longer the pretty 12 I had witnessed two roars previously. The trophy for me is in the experience. This stag taught me a lot.





    Safe and happy hunting this roar fellas.

    JoshC
    Last edited by JoshC; 03-04-2013 at 12:34 PM.
    Wirehunt, muzr257, sako75 and 17 others like this.

  2. #2
    Member stug's Avatar
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    Top effort and a great reward for perseverance.

  3. #3
    Member BRADS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stug View Post
    Top effort and a great reward for perseverance.
    + 1 on that

  4. #4
    Ex stick thrower madjon_'s Avatar
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    And a bloody good story to boot,well done that man
    Real guns start with the number 3 or bigger and make two holes, one in and one out." -

  5. #5
    Member Happy's Avatar
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    Thats wicked. Thanks for the write up hard to stop reading once you start... Awesome

  6. #6
    A Good Keen Girl Dougie's Avatar
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    Great write up!!! Well done
    She loves the free fresh wind in her hair; Life without care. She's broke but it's oke; that's why the lady is a tramp.

    Rule 4: Identify your target beyond all doubt

  7. #7
    OPCz Rushy's Avatar
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    Excellent story Josh and lots of commitment over the years will make that stag one to remember. 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

  8. #8
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    Good work fella. Pleased he was roaring for you. Still quiet down in Te Anau surrounding area.

  9. #9
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    Great story Josh, thank you for sharing.
    Yeah nah bro

    Rule 4: Identify your target beyond all doubt.

  10. #10
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    Excellent story.

  11. #11
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    Awesome write up. Cheers

  12. #12
    Member Scouser's Avatar
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    Josh, i hardly ever use this word mate.....but that was AWESOME.......excellent write up, im praying i could have a hunting story like that.......well done!
    While I might not be as good as I once was, Im as good once as I ever was!

    Rule 4: Identify your target beyond all doubt

  13. #13
    SiB
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    Well done - a very well written piece with evocative pictures. A brilliant composition! - oh and well done getting your stag!

  14. #14
    Member sako75's Avatar
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    Great writing Josh. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it
    Feel like you took out an old foe? Lost an old friend?

  15. #15
    Gone But Not Forgotten Toby's Avatar
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    Congrats Josh
    VIVA LA HOWA

 

 

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