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Normal Topic When it all comes together - Story of two first stags (Read 7210 times)
dtchch
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When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Apr 7th, 2013 at 1:10pm
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After last week away on an awesome hunt, which unfortunately ended on an anticlimax (http://www.fishnhunt.co.nz/forum/YaBB.cgi?num=1364469193/0#0) & I had a great weekend of R&R, eating well, surfing and generally taking it easy.

The following week I had a plan to hit the hills again, but this time with my good mate Gareth (Geetz).
I’ve dragged him around a fair few hills, and got him his first deer in January - this time he was along for a crack at a stag in the roar.
Neither of us have shot a stag before.
Seeing as I’d had a go at one the previous week, I’d decided it would be him taking the first shot.

Tuesday afternoon we packed up the truck and headed to the area for the week. We parked up in fading light with a light drizzle and settled in for an uncomfortable night in the Suzuki.
The light drizzle turned into torrential rain over night, we’d expected this (though not on this scale) and we decided in the morning to drive to my mums farm to wait it out.
The rain started to ease so we headed back to suss out the river flows - unfortunately they were totally blown out so we headed back to mums a little disappointed.
The rain had stopped so we decided to return at first light the next morning and hopefully the rivers would have come down enough.

Up at 5:30 and on the road, we pulled up and got sorted out - then were on our way by about 7:30.
The rivers had dropped significantly overnight and we were able to get across without too much drama - it was good to finally be on our way!


We had only been walking about 30 minutes when I heard something, ‘must be the cattle’ I thought to myself.
5 minutes later there it was again... I turned to Gareth who was walking behind me and said “Gareth mate, chuck ya bolt in theres a f*ckin’ stag roaring up there”.
We got our rifles ready, I unpacked my roaring horn and let out a blat - Instant reply from the stag, “are you ready, I reckon we’ll get a crack at him he’s fired up”.

We made our way along and into the bush toward the grunting and roaring stag. He was well bloody worked up, and my few roars sent him off his rocker!
We climbed up the hill in the forest a bit and I picked out an area with a bit less undergrowth where we might be able to ambush him.
The stag was making his way straight for us, I was keeping him rarked up with grunts and I pointed Gareth at where I expected him to appear.

He was only 30m away, you could hear him thrashing his way past bushes and cracking sticks.
The stag had climbed a little and was going to appear above where I’d expected, so I stayed hidden behind the tree and Gareth moved to my right and took an awkward rest around the corner of the tree.
I gave another grunt and the stag replied, he was only 15m away and it got my heart racing - but old Geetzy boy seemed to be keeping super cool.
I couldn’t see as I was keeping out of sight, but the stag and Gareth stared at each other for a good couple of minutes - Gareth whispered to me that there wasn’t a chest shot, I whispered something helpful like “f*ckin shoot him!”, but Gareth waited.
I gave a low groan facing away from the stag and he took half a step forward, at the same time Gareth wriggled 6 inches around the base of the tree.
That was enough.

Boom! The 18” barrel sent a 139gr pill on its way - a couple of feet away from my ears. The stag took off uphill.

Ears screaming. “Did ya hit him!?” As we ran up the hill struggling to regain some hearing. “Yeah, certain!”.
I could hear the stag stumbling and smashing over small trees.

We climbed over a rise and saw him collapse, a mere 30m away from where he had been shot. We gave him one more through the chest to finish him off.

“Go have a look mate!”

Gareth walked down to his first stag, absolutely ecstatic. I was bloody proud of him, he kept his cool and waited for the right shot to present itself. The bullet took out a lung and smashed the front shoulder, great placement!
I think I was just as chuffed as Gareth!





I had to laugh, it was before 8:30 in the morning and we had a stag on the deck!

We took off his head, butchered him, chucked the meat in mutton cloth and hung it up under the canopy. We’d pick it up on the way out a few days later and it was cool enough to leave it.

We carried on our way. “Right, all distractions aside - shall we get to this bloody hut?” What a bloody good start to the trip!


We got to the hut by early afternoon, there were a few other guys there already. They turned out to be a group of real good buggers, and Gareth and I were stoked to meet them. Over the few days we had some awesome yarns, got given priceless advice and had wicked company from the boys.

We turned up and one of the fellas had been pissing off a stag across the river all day. There were a couple of stags up there that sounded more than a little frustrated at the wanker stag causing strife across the valley. It was decided it was time to go have a crack at it, so one of the boys buggered off not to return until later.
We sat around and got to know our new mates a bit, we decided to kick around the hut for the afternoon seeing as we’d already hit a stag on the way in.

Roars were let out every 10-15 minutes to keep the stags on the hill going, while the hunter crept in.

In the cool and fading light of the afternoon, one of the guys noticed a hind materialize on the flat by the hut.
We went out and watched her slowly make her way in toward our roars. In the low light it was difficult to get a picture - but I managed one or two through the binos -



Nobody was considering shooting her, the deer on the flats were off limits which I thought was awesome - every night we could sit until last dark and expect to see one pop out.

She was walking right toward us when BOOOOM in the distance, she took off at a rate of knots.
It was less than half an hour til dark but it sounded like our mate had nailed one of the stags on the hill.

Two of the guys set off to try and find him, and give him a hand getting out of the bush.

They returned well after dark with a nice 8-pointer - which got Gareth and I a bit excited!



We yarned for a few hours, and I stared at the head a lot - hoping I’d get a crack at one.

I really respected how the boys knew who was expected to be where and there was plenty of room in the valley for us all to hunt.
We decided we would slog way up the valley for a night or two to get out of everyones hair - which would possibly work in our favour as no hunting parties had ventured that far in the last few weeks.

We finally hit the sack, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one dreaming of stags.


The next morning broke still and crisp.
Gareth and I had some breakkie, packed up, said goodbye and good luck, and started making our way up the valley.



We heard a few roaring stags on the way, but waited until we were well out of the other’s hunting zones before giving out some roars ourselves.
None eventuated in much, but it was bloody good to hear that a few were going off.

We got to our second home just after lunch time. It was a beaut hut situated near the river with stunning views out the front. We had it to ourselves.
We chucked a bit of lunch together and set off on an afternoon hunt up a side creek.

Plenty of sign on the flats, but we climbed up onto a ridge which followed the creek up. It wasn’t long until we were on a very well used deer trail, plenty of fresh tracks and rubs along the way.

After half an hour or so we heard our first roar. “Shit I love roar hunting” I said to Gareth with a grin. I could get him worked up for short periods of time and then he’d go quiet.
We kept pushing along up the ridge and upstream toward where we had heard him, stopping every 10 minutes or so to try and get a response.

He wasn’t too far off now, letting out low guttural growls every now and again. We decided to drop down off the ridge and try to move in, down through thick windfall and regen it was a bit tricky.

We slowly carried on up the creek bed toward him, still unsure of where he was exactly. I gave out a few hard roars and he let out a real fired up spiel - almost more of a manic scream than a roar.
Unfortunately after that he shut up shop, most likely due to the breeze which tickled the backs of our necks soon before.

We decided to walk back out and down to a shingle fan where we’d heard a stag roar on the walk in.
On the sandy flats on the river bed there were areas which had been turned over and scented up - rutting pads to attract the ladies we figured.
We gave out a few roars but the wind had started howling up the valley, and with it approached a cold and wet front.
Back to the hut without getting too wet. Hopefully this weather would pass. After seeing the power of the rivers and the speed they rise and fall, we knew too well we had to be careful.

We got a fire roaring and sat down for dinner. Soon after, a couple of wet and cold trampers from Tauranga turned up. They were pleased to get out of the weather and approaching darkness and looked pretty happy to see the fire blazing away happily.

We chatted for a while then hit the sack at the Coronation Street-watching, Zimmerframe-wielding hour of 8pm

Sleep came pretty easy.


The weather had passed overnight, it was chilly and there was a breeze heading down the valley. A light coating of snow powdered the proudest mountain tops.



I dragged Gareth out of the fart-sack and into a mug of coffee & some Weetbix.

We waited for a bit of light to appear and set off - originally up the side creek again but I changed my mind after half an hour with the wind blowing up our arse.
So we headed back down to where we’d been the previous afternoon listening and letting out the odd roars as we went.
We weren’t hearing anything, and the wind wasn’t dying down at all.

After an hour or two it was decided to start heading back to the hut, the stags weren’t vocal this morning with the slightly warmer North Easterly wind gusting away.
Gareth’s knee had been playing up and I could see he was eager to go and have a spell at the hut.

I was beginning to worry about whether I’d get onto a stag. We were to walk out the following day, we needed to return down the valley to the hut by tonight to avoid a massive slog on our final day.
Hunting time was running out, and my ankles and knee were playing up a bit from the milage I’d covered the previous week.

And then I heard a good roar up high and to my right. I gave out a good bellow and got a strong response right away.
Gareth was a few hundred meters ahead of me so I gave a roar in his direction but failed to get his attention.
I thought bugger it, now or never and ran across the valley floor to the bush edge. I dropped my extra clothing, binos and gear and began my ascent.

It was shit, and steep. The first 50-100 vertical meters was best described as a mix of free-climbing and tree climbing.
This wasn’t an issue in my mind, because my stag was still replying with intensifying power.

I finally broke through the really steep scrubby bit and found myself on a much more open beech ridge.
I could quickly make my way up toward him except for the windfall. Looking at my GPS I figured he was across a gully to my left and well above me. The wind was cutting from my left to right, so as long as I kept on this side of him I’d be fine.

I kept making my way up, roaring and getting a response then grunting it up toward his level.
At some stage the roars began from my right, now I’m not sure if he crossed over above me and tried winding me or if it was a completely different stag. But the roars from the gully on my left ceased, and I smelt the stink of stag at one point on the ridge - so I figure the boy was being a tricky bugger and quickly cut over me trying to cut my scent.

I got to around his level, and hit a belt of windfall and regen. Impossible to move quietly, I simply kept my stag fired up and smashing my way through it.
I began dropping down the right side of the ridge toward his new position, down through piles of fallen trees and thick undergrowth.

By this stage we were pretty close, I could tell he was pissed off and moving it and I could hear the odd branches snapping.

I came to a bit of a gully where there was a little less undergrowth, so I sat down in a spot where I could see a few different angles off approach. I gave out a roar or two, he responded - deja-vu from last week, playing cat and mouse with a stag trying to pinpoint the other!
I shuddered at the thought of the deer I buggered up the shot on, and if a shot would present itself today, and if I’d perform.

I sat for 5-10 minutes but he wasn’t coming in, so I quietly moved another 15-20 metres closer, down onto a flatter area and I got a roar from pretty bloody close.
The undergrowth had become thick. I had a huge fallen tree in front of me leading down to my right, further below that was thick scrub.
There seemed to be a way around the fallen tree straight ahead around the far end of it, so I sat with my rifle ready for the stag to appear there, set up the camera and let off a growl, I got a reply straight away and after 5 minutes of waiting I decided he must be stuck on the other side without a way through.
I turned off the camera and crept up to the big fallen tree, I tried to peer over it and through cracks but couldn’t spot anything.

I walked back toward the end of the tree and quietly hoisted myself up onto it.

I got onto the tree and sat there, and straight away spotted my stag.

He was about 20 metres away, I couldn’t see his head - but he was standing perfectly broadside.

He was silently watching that same gap in the bush at the end of the log - just as I had been. He was waiting for me to push through there where he’d have time to assess me as I passed through the undergrowth.

But I’d flanked him.

I put the Remington to my shoulder, with my scope set on 2 power I lined up the stags hefty shoulder.

Thoughts of the previous week played on my mind as I held a stag in the crosshairs once again.

I lined up square on his shoulder and thought to my self “No f*ckin neck shots today” and squeezed the trigger.

The stag lurched, and took off. I slid down off the tree and took off after him, waiting for my hearing to return.
I heard crashing and commotion ahead of me, so I kept on him - but I needn’t go far.

I climbed over some logs and there he lay, his big body laid out and his head down a gut amongst some forest litter.
I waited and watched for signs of life - but he was still.

I approached his body and gave him a nudge without response, and I grabbed an antler and lifted his heavy limp head.

I heard my Woohoo’s echo in the valley below, I counted 5 points on the antler I held - and a mirror image on the opposing antler.
My first stag was on the deck, a heavy ten pointer - and what a hunt it had been!
An hour and a half had passed since I ran across that river - my stag had confused me and seemingly switched sides of the ridge momentarily, he’d not rushed in and he’d been waiting to ambush me in the exact spot I’d planned to do the same.

I was so bloody happy and proud of myself. After spending 5 days out last week for it to end in such disappointment and uncertainty, after getting my good mate face to face with a roaring stag and him bagging it - and yet at the same time a bit sad to see the big boy down on the ground.
I thanked him for being a good sport - this was not a dumb animal who wandered into my rifle - he played me, and I respected him.

I reached for my camera off my belt and found it missing. f*ck!

I knew I’d had it only 30 meters away when I recorded his roar, so I set off to look for it before getting busy with the knife.
As I turned to walk away the stags back leg kicked - probably just nerves but it made me think of the spiker I shot a few months ago, which got up and ran never to be found after a few minutes of being dropped hard.
I cringed in bracing myself for the noise and put one more through his chest, smoke and steam poured from the entry hole into the sun breaching the canopy.

It took me half an hour to find my camera, but I wasn’t doing anything until I had - even just for Gareth’s photos of his stag.

I returned to my stag and awkwardly set up the camera for some photos. I could barely move his body so had to make do with the angle he was on.
They need a bit of touching up, but I think they captured it well enough -









A wee bit of the roaring action - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nznpUz-i-3w

With that done, I removed his head - the skin on his neck was half an inch thick, I’m glad I’d brought two blades with me.

I removed his backsteaks next, I hate to be wasteful but it was simply unfeasible to take any more because of where he was.
He was the fattest and one of the best conditioned deer I’ve butchered, a thick layer of fat coated almost his whole body





The walk down the hill with the head and my rifle slung on my back was what I’d describe as interesting.
I heard a creek nearby so decided to take that down, it probably was the quickest way as the bush was so thick and shitty in spots I’d never have got through it.
But it was slippery and dangerous, and I caught a tine in my cheekbone when the head flipped off my shoulders - could have easily been my eye.
I grunted my way down, swearing, cursing every branch which caught my rifle or an antler.

I finally emerged down on the valley floor. It was well after midday by now, I caught a glimpse of my silhouette on the ground in front of me and smiled at the rack hanging over my back.

I only had to walk 100m to pick up the rest of my gear - and I began walking slowly into the cold head wind back to the hut.

I’d been going about 20 minutes when I spotted Gareth heading down toward me.

He’d figured I’d got onto a deer, hadn’t heard the shot - but he had packed up all of our gear, and he was walking toward me wearing two full large tramping packs piggy backed together on his back! He was going to come and wait for me to come down so I didn’t have to go to the hut and pack up - I knew there was a reason I brought you along mate!

We were a couple of hundred meters apart and he noticed antlers over my shoulders - he let out a Woohoo! And I may have howled one or two out too.

I begged for a few minutes rest before having to shoulder my pack, I played out the events of the last few hours seeing as he didn’t know where I’d gone off to. He was stoked for me, and we grunted our way over the next few hours back down to the first hut.
  

Whatungarongaro te tangata toitū te whenua
Man shall disappear, but the land always remains
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dtchch
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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #1 - Apr 7th, 2013 at 1:10pm
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When we got back nobody was at the hut, one of the fellas arrived back after setting up a game camera and was over the moon for me. He gave us a beer each, and took a few photos of the head. You couldn’t pry the smile of my face with a crowbar.
Two of the others had headed out, one of them had bowled a 6 pointer I think.
The other guy had gone to get his son to bring in for the next week.

We had a mellow night, got a ripper fire going and yarned in front of it until Gareth and I were about ready to pass out.

I hit the sack achey and content.


The following morning was still and crisp. I woke up before the other guys and struggled to get my head around the daylight saving shift.

I got up and made a coffee, and stood out in the biting cold in front of the hut. The stag was going hard across the valley again, I considered waking up my sleeping mates but thought better of it. So I sat on a deck chair and listened to him displaying his aggression for all to hear.

The others rose shortly after and we had a slow last morning. I cleaned up my head, which I reckon shaved off a good 5kg.
We packed up, thanked our mate for the hospitality and company - and headed for the road.

On the way out we bumped into the other fella coming back in with his son, I’d hoped we would.
He was chuffed for me too, and took a few photos out of interest in heads of the area he’s hunted for many years.
I wished him luck and hoped his son got a crack at one of the stags hanging around and said goodbye - I hope to meet them again next year!

Gareth and I made good time heading out of the valley. We picked up his head and meat - a whopping 1.4KM from the truck - and were very happy to finally return to the wee Zook.



Sitting here typing after a very long day - it seems unreal that just this morning I woke up in the hut, in such an amazing part of the country - it seems so far away now.

But this is a trip that I’ll never forget; and nor will Gareth.
A trip which started slowly and with uncertainty - then suddenly exploded into action. A trip where we explored vast new country and met some bloody good people. A trip where we both achieved goals and far exceeded them.

It was a trip where everything came together.

Cheers!
  

Whatungarongaro te tangata toitū te whenua
Man shall disappear, but the land always remains
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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #2 - Apr 8th, 2013 at 7:07am
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Woow what an amazing story,well done both of you guys.Great photos and memories to be keeped.
  

Shot a few deer,caugth some big trout and salmon
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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #3 - Apr 8th, 2013 at 8:14am
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Awesome!
  
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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #4 - Apr 8th, 2013 at 10:27am
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Great read mate, a well deserved first stag!
  
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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #5 - Apr 9th, 2013 at 8:11am
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Woo Hoo stoked for ya loved the read!!
  
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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #6 - Apr 9th, 2013 at 9:49am
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Well done guys  Cool
  
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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #7 - Apr 9th, 2013 at 6:02pm
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Good read, congratulations.
  

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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #8 - Apr 10th, 2013 at 7:43am
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A great read and effort.
  
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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #9 - Apr 12th, 2013 at 7:57pm
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Coolcongrats man; you earned it.
  

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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #10 - Apr 13th, 2013 at 1:08am
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what an epic trip! a lot of meat there!!  Cheesy
  

Be fit & be well.
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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #11 - Apr 15th, 2013 at 10:12pm
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Wicked and so well done and bloody hard earned!
  
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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #12 - Apr 15th, 2013 at 10:28pm
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Thanks guys  Smiley
  

Whatungarongaro te tangata toitū te whenua
Man shall disappear, but the land always remains
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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #13 - Apr 16th, 2013 at 12:50am
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what a bloody great read! cheers for sharing your hunts.
i remember when you first joined the forum, your keenness was evident from the start.
and now look where you are, fantastic results for your efforts! Cool
  
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Re: When it all comes together - Story of two first stags
Reply #14 - Apr 16th, 2013 at 1:15am
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Some nice pointy looking trophies Cool
  

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