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Thread: A tale of many lessons

  1. #1
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    A tale of many lessons

    Should have typed this up a while ago but better late than never. Newbie hunter and Iíve had my FAL and T3X 7mmRM for 18mths. In the past Iíve a done a few multisport and adventure races including GODZone so I know my way around outdoors and Iím comfortable being in remote areas. Very limited opportuinity to hunt though as my wife has been really struggling with her mental health so hunting has been on hold while I spend time with her. However a couple weekends before lockdown was my long awaited first chance to get away overnight.

    Decided on public land above Pudding Hill Stream, mid Canterbury. Thought was get above the bush and onto the edge into open high country. Tried this forum, phones calls, emails and various website contact forms to request permission to walk in via farm tracks rather than up the stream. No joy so planned a route about 3km up the stream bed (elevation 500m) then up a spur to reach bush edge and open country (elevation 1100m). So approx. 600m of elevation gain involved. Easy I thought. Plan was leave Chch 3pm Friday, get up to bush edge by 8pm latest so that could twilight hunt, setup fly camp, start again first light, hunt until mid morning then head down and back with wife by mid Saturday afternoon. Forecast was 60-70km winds evening, calm morning then rain in afternoon. All good I thought.
    Hereís where the many lessons part startsÖÖ..
    - Finishing work delayed half hour. Not much but lesson is leave with plenty of spare time as you may need it later in dayÖ. Lesson #1 = Have spare time
    - Reached Mt Hutt Retreat and chatted with manager Iíd spoken to on phone. He told me safe place to park and I headed off about 5pm. Walk upstream, 20+ crossings but no problem. First 200m on spur was hard going but then not too bad. Lesson #2 = Use local knowledge if you get it
    - Backpack seemed really heavy. Itís was a 65L Beyond pack from Torpedo 7 purchased about 10yrs ago for family tramping trips on Queens Charlotte and Abel Tasman tracks (my race packs are 20 & 44L so too small for the gear I had). Full of budget clothing and other gear so not the smallest or lightest but still seemed too heavy. Over a hour into my walk I realised Iíd not clipped the waist strap! Oops. Iíd put on bino holder first (Bushbuck) and then backpack. The bino holder had hidden my downward view and with no recent trips Iíd forgotten to clip it. Doh! #3 = Fit backpack properly and clip the waist belt! Lesson #3b Beyond brand means beyond crap. It was ok on family tramps but rubbish with real weight in it. It also squeaked. Have since brought an Osprey Aether 85.
    - Iíd spend some decent money of a pair of Hunters Element Spur trousers. Theyíd been comfy around home but that day they kept falling down. So frustrating. Used some cord to make a belt. #4 = Backpack tends to push trousers down. Wear a belt.
    - My DIY Z sling copy was working ok. Iíd made from a discarded sports bag strap, some webbing and clips. However the unbranded bipod I brought used via this forum broke a third of way up. Jury rigged sling back on. Half way up another part of bipod adaptor breaks. Hand carry rifle rest of way up. #5 = You get what you pay for. My DIY was ok, the unbranded bipod mount crap.
    - Saw lots and lots of sign about half way up. Shit and chewed foliage. Should have camped near there but wanted to be in open and not in bush. Move on upwards. #6 = Be prepared to change hunting plan to suit what you see
    - NZ Topo50 app on phone was giving accurate location but direction sometimes 90 to 180degs out. Realised it was being stuffed up by the magnet catch on bino holder. I knew compasses get effected by magnets but hadnít realised digital compasses in phones also do. Lucky I had my Silva compass to confirm my doubts about the phone app compass, and that I know how to use it and how to map read. #7 = get rid of magnets!
    - Climbing up spur was going ok and I was feeling ok until 8pm when itís getting dark and still have 200m more elevation gain needed to get to bush edge. Couldn't stay where was as there was no flats to sleep on and worse the predicted 65kph wind gusts were occuring with widow maker beeches everywhere. Really noisy too. #8 = donít over estimate rate of travel in bush.
    - Head torch on and keep going as had no choice. Not safe to sleep there. Very tough going and no obviuos route in dark through the 1.5-3m high mixed new dense beech growth and fallen beech. The really dense stuff that at most is 400mm apart. Couldn't risk dropping off spur edge to find easier going as it was steep on each side so bulldozer style pushed through the fresh growth and dead stuff. Moving at 5 metres a minute maximum. Sleeping roll Iíd been gifted by a forum member was wider than the backpack so a nightmare pushing through gaps. #9 = if there in daylight could have likely skirted around but in dark safety first meant push through. #9b get a smaller bed roll.
    - Got one wasp sting on shoulder when I was sprung back onto a tree. #10 = always carry anithistaimne. Fortunately I was. The sting was still sore a week later though.
    - Seemed like never needing struggle unitl got into open. So relieved! But by then it was about 9:30pm and dark. Zero hunting. #11 = have spare time for the delays that will occur!
    - Out in open it was windy, certainly at upper end of the 60-70kph forecast. Climbed up another 100m of elevation seeking a small flat on lee side. Couldn't find sheltered flat so chose to go down to bush edge again and setup fly nice and low at knee height using 1/3 of walking poles onto about 5deg slope sheltered behind a big shrub (hebe?). #12 = at end of day donít waste extra effort looking for ideal shelter, take the first reasonable option
    - Starry night and knew the forecast was wind easing and high cloud morning changing to drizzle late morning so things looking up. Ate and climbed into sleeping bag looking forward to morning. Thought it'd be fine but 5deg slope and slick sleeping bag + slick sleep mat = slide downhill all night and wiggle back up many times. Aaarggh!!! #13 = even minimal slope is uncomfortable as youíll slide off sleeping mat. The bulky Lilo mat itself was ok however Iíve since ordered a lighter smaller JR Gear sleeping mat.
    - Might have heard a couple of animals overnight. Was not sure as a fair bit of wind noise.
    - Alarm at 5:30am as I wanted to be packed by first light. But thick as fog so had slow breakfast. 6am the drizzle started. Wind completely gone so I lifted the fly to full trekking pole height. Could tell by then it would be clag and drizzle all day. Could only see 50m max as light began to arrive. Bugger. #14 = forecasts are not perfect. Weather can arrive hours earlier than predicted. If time is limited probably better to wait until another weekend than try to squeeze in a hunt and it be wasted effort.
    - Jury rigged sling onto rifle again by completely removing the bipod. Better than it'd ever been! #15 = be McGyver
    - Decided no point staying up there only seeing 50m so headed down. More pushing through dense regrowth. Getting soaked from every tree I touched. Really slippery so much bum sliding. #16 = its damn slippery and wet under beech trees when raining
    - About 1/3 of way down to stream level I got a bit of Ďget-home-itisí and not really paying attention so drifted about 20deg off line and started going down wrong spur. Only about 500m distance and about 150m across before I realized but took concentrated effort sidling around for about 1hr to get back onto correct spur. #17 = keep a close eye on navigation.
    - While heading down saw lots more sign. Many bedding down areas with flattened grass, ferns and bracken. With time maybe I could have slowed right down and hoped to find something but didnít have spare time. #18 = keep spare time on way home.
    - Phone had been getting a bit wet in bino holder and started playing up. Back button wouldn't work. I had paper map and compass so not worried #19 = donít rely on tech and at minimum keep standard mobile phone in a zip lock bag
    - Took about 4hrs to get down and back to car. No animals seen. Drive home. Mrs happy to see me #20 = a bad day hunting is still better than a good day in office. An even better feeling is getting home to a happy Mrs.
    - So many lessons. Some new, some reminders, some because of budget gear, some just lack of knowledge.
    Since then have been out a couple of half days. Still havenít shot or even sighted anything. Time to get out hunting is limited but it is beginning to free up. Defeintely got some nights and weekends coming up in coming months. Had been hoping to do a HUNTS course later this year but NZDA North Canty branch course is full.

  2. #2
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    Great write up keep at it.
    It's always easier if you can tag along with someone else and learn a few trips.

    Sent from my CPH1903 using Tapatalk
    uk_exile likes this.

  3. #3
    Member mopheadrob's Avatar
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    Great to hear you got out, and I've also discovered that a 'fruitless' trip is often a goldmine of experience that will serve you well in future hunts... some good reminders in there. Let me know when your next window is - we should try to hook up!
    Pixie Z and uk_exile like this.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for a great write and more important,yr wife pleased to see you home.
    The only way to learn about hunting is to go hunting.
    If you see sign go back again n again.Narrow the area down n time things better.Good luck next time.
    norsk and uk_exile like this.

  5. #5
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    Appreciate yr honesty-we all make mistakes but don't always own them, or learn from them, as you have. Good luck for the future!
    uk_exile likes this.

  6. #6
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    Mate we have all been there when starting out. We all have dragged a heavy pack with all this extra gear and cloths to realize we only needed half of it.
    Still good to get out on the hills, animals will come
    uk_exile likes this.

  7. #7
    Member Boaraxa's Avatar
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    Good wright up , My preference is to use a lightweight tent instead of a fly this time of year , wet & windy is a bad combo .
    uk_exile likes this.
    The Green party putting the CON in conservation since 2017

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boaraxa View Post
    Good wright up , My preference is to use a lightweight tent instead of a fly this time of year , wet & windy is a bad combo .
    I'd use a tent if heading up there now. It was couple of weeks before lockdown so pre-frosts.

  9. #9
    Member Micky Duck's Avatar
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    yip I know where you headed and just how shitty it can get with a little deviation off track...its called character building....
    uk_exile likes this.

  10. #10
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    Just remember those lessons will help in future hunts and if you keep at it the animals will soon come your way.
    uk_exile likes this.

  11. #11
    top of the south
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    One thing to remember if you find a good spot don't let on the location or it'll get a hammering
    uk_exile likes this.

  12. #12
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    Great write up. anyone who hasn't had a "learning experience" like that either has a short memory or tells fibs. It gets easier! Enjoy all the experience including coming home (a little boy once asked Ed Hillary what the best part of climbing Mt Everest was - he bent way down to the little chaps level and whispered "getting back down again"!!)
    Ranger 888, Pixie Z and uk_exile like this.

  13. #13
    MB
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    Good post. As another newbie, I've learnt something new on every trip and adjusted my gear accordingly. Random thoughts. I also use NZTopo50, but carry a physical compass, in fact I carry two. The spare is in my emergency pack. Realise how screwed I'd be without a compass. After getting lost a couple of times, I'm pretty paranoid about checking where I am all the time. I went down the rabbit hole of "ultralight hiking" a couple of years ago. My pack is now half the weight that it used to be. Not talking about doing stupid stuff like cutting toothbrush handles off, just replacing things like cooking equipment with lighter, smaller alternatives. When I'm puffing my way up a bluff and cursing, I can only blame my lack of fitness rather than the pack on my back!
    Pixie Z and uk_exile like this.

  14. #14
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    I've not bothered with 2 compasses. Having done many rogaines with almost of it being contour map reading rather than compass bearings (plus GPS & phones not allowed with rogaine rules) I reckon I'm ok with a combo of phone and a single compass. Enough to prevent shit happening anyway (plus I had a PLB if it did!).
    I love the idea of lightweight however limited budget in foreseeable future so I'll be humping around heavy stuff for a while. No worries though, it gives a handy excuse/reason when fitness is failing ;-)

  15. #15
    Member Rusky's Avatar
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    Good account of events. Reminds me of some of my adventures when younger. You just get wiser and better with age.
    uk_exile likes this.

 

 

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