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Hot Topic (More than 30 Replies) A first deer in the Tararuas (Read 8990 times)
DJAndyJ
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A first deer in the Tararuas
May 12th, 2011 at 10:22am
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After wandering aimlessly in the bush with my rifle for the better part of a year with no success, I was heading into the Tararuas for my first roar. This was it. It was more than just a fleeting weekend visit, more that a couple of days spent sitting round camp waiting for something to happen. This time I was going to put in the “hard yards”, and I hoped I would taste success.

For weeks I’d sat at my desk in Wellington, looking out across the harbour at the Tararuas looming behind the Hutt Valley. Knowing that the weather in those hills is notoriously fickle, and that for every day of fine weather there are two of absolute rubbish, I nervously watched as day after day of blue skies sat over the peaks, using up the quota of nice days. I found myself praying for bad weather while I was at work, to increase the chances of some good stuff while I was in the hills.

D-day dawned grey in Wellington. From the office, I could barely make out the outline of the Tararua foothills. JD at Amalgamated Helicopters told me they weren’t flying that morning because of wind, and my hopes sank. He was confident, he said, they’d get us in that evening, so there was still a chance, and with that I headed out with my hunting mate, MCCambo, Wairarapa-bound. Should point out here that it was he who took all the photos - I can't take any credit there!

After the obligatory money-splurging stops at Hunting and Fishing to buy all sorts of things I didn’t need, we made it to chopper HQ. It was grey and blustery, but apparently it was all go – it’d be a bumpy ride, but they’d get us in.



Loading up the chopper...

In fact, through the cloud the Tararua tops were basking in sun, sprinkled with a light coat of snow from the day before. JD pointed out a couple of likely looking spots, and a before long we were leaping out of the whakatakataka and throwing our stuff into the hut. There is something very surreal about going straight from the car to the tops in a matter of minutes.


...and unloading 10 minutes later

The first evening and next day was spent scouting out the area, getting to know the valleys, and giving a few amateurish roars into headwaters.









Despite the warm sun on the hills after the snow, the deer weren’t out and about, and I finished day one wondering if the tops were the best bet for the roar. That all changed when MCC came back from his evening wander with news that he’d been roaring something in over the hill a bit. After a brew and a few beers, we decided we’d head back to the spot in the morning and see if we couldn’t fire him up again.


A great little hut

The next morning was grey and still, with mist closing the vis down to about 25 metres. We trudged back to the spot in the pre-dawn dark, and reached a likely looking ridge just as the mist had started to lighten. A few metres down the spur, Cambo gave a roar, and through the clag came the response from further down the valley. A few more roars, and a few more replies, the fella seemed to be moving away from us, rather than charging in like I thought he was supposed to. This is not how it is supposed to work, I was thinking to myself. We headed back to the main ridge and dropped down another spur further along, and this time things were looking good. The ground was pockmarked with fresh prints, and scattered with fresh sign. “This is more like it”, I started thinking.



A slight breeze in our faces kept our presence a secret as we made our way down the spur, while the clag obscured us from view. Cambo gave another roar, and this time the reply came from much closer. The previous week I had roared in a stag in the Rimutakas, and had been surprised by how close the animal was when it actually sounded much further away. This stood me in good stead this time around, as I realised that this animal was closing in on us, and fast.


I moved down the hill slightly to a sturdy looking ledge, and propped the rifle up against it. The stag roared again from below me, and I peered through the mist looking for any sign of him. Scanning the scene in front of me, I could just make out the silhouetted head of a stag, clearly looking in my direction but unable to see me. I squinted through the scope, but couldn’t pick out his shape through the mist. In any case, I wanted a clearer target than this – I was aware there were other hunters in the area, and wanted to make 100% sure of what I was looking at.



The stag roared again, and took a few paces toward me, up and over the ledge he was on. Now I was certain I was looking at a deer, and, thankfully, could pick him out in my scope. Wasting little time, I drew a bead on him and squeezed off a shot. Through the scope, I saw exactly what I was after, as the animal crumpled instantly to the ground. At the same time, the hinds he was holding – hiding behind him until now – sprang off in all different directions. The shot echoed around the basin, and then the hillside fell silent.


After a tense few minutes, we made the call to go and find the beast. A few metres down the hill, and one of the hinds – still lurking around after all the action, and accompanied by a yearling – barked a warning at us from about 10 metres away. Cambo drew his rifle up, but considering we were a way from the hut and still had a long walk out, made the split second call to leave them be.



A couple of metres further, and where he had stood only a few minutes before lay my stag, my first deer. His was only a small head of 10 points, but I took it with glee – the feeling of finally being “on the board” was a good one, to say the least. It also seemed appropriate to me that, despite having hunted a little in the Rimutakas, the Urewera and the Haurangis, I should take my first deer in the Tararuas, a place where I’d been coming as a kid to go tramping, and a place I’ve always had a soft spot for.



Informed by Cambo’s experience dressing a few deer, and from watching a couple of videos online, we got to prepping the beast for the carry-out. Harnessed with the hind-quarter backpack and the head slung over my shoulders (dressed in the obligatory blaze vest), we began the job of getting the meat back to the hut. By this stage the Tararuas had reverted to type, and a gusty Northerly battered us as we spent the better part of a couple of hours making our way back. No matter though, because once back at the hut it was beers, whisky and a few slices of heart, all to celebrate getting that elusive “first”.



After reading so much about the “how tos” of hunting, and having come back empty-handed from so many trips, it was a great feeling to finally have that monkey (or hindquarters!) off my back.
  
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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #1 - May 12th, 2011 at 10:37am
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Awesome mate!  planning that next trip I bet  Cool well done.
  
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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #2 - May 12th, 2011 at 10:47am
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I love reading stories of a guys first deer, especially when they've tried so hard for so long.
Well done, and a big congrats on your first deer, and a good stag at that Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley
  
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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #3 - May 12th, 2011 at 11:08am
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those photo's are gold mate, cheers and well done on getting the stag. Cool
  
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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #4 - May 12th, 2011 at 11:27am
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nice dude!
  
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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #5 - May 12th, 2011 at 11:39am
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great stuff, those hills are a great place to spend time - even better when you get your first deer. Well done.
  
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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #6 - May 12th, 2011 at 11:47am
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Good stuff
  
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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #7 - May 12th, 2011 at 5:00pm
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Wicked! Cool

You must be stoked.  A well written report of what sounds and looks like an awesome trip. Smiley
  

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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #8 - May 12th, 2011 at 6:07pm
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Good work!
First one is always the hardest.
  

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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #9 - May 12th, 2011 at 7:05pm
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Awesome stuff  Cool
  
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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #10 - May 12th, 2011 at 7:21pm
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Congrats!
  
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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #11 - May 12th, 2011 at 7:33pm
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Well done, a good read too. Smiley
  
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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #12 - May 12th, 2011 at 7:44pm
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Good on ya. Well done- met you guys at JD's when JD flew us out and you two in.
  
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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #13 - May 12th, 2011 at 7:56pm
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Cool good read and nice pics, congrats on your first stag!
  
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Re: A first deer in the Tararuas
Reply #14 - May 12th, 2011 at 8:57pm
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the old story ,,fish your feet first
good read
  

It is much better to Hit the Animal in the right place, with a Rifle you can shoot well, then to hit it poorly with a Large Calibre..John Nosler
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