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Very Hot Topic (More than 100 Replies) SAMBAR SECRETS (Read 42170 times)
ramjet
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SAMBAR SECRETS
Jul 4th, 2013 at 10:20pm
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Hi all.

I'm starting this thread for the benefit of Sambar addicts like myself as well as those who would like to give these brutes a crack at some stage and need some guidance. (Excuse the less than imaginative title!)

The guidelines I've been given are that this thread can include anything 'how to', photos, videos, comments of interest however stories of hunts need to be posted in the appropriate 'hunting reports and stories' section.

I'd personally be very interested in advice people can offer on judging antler length on the hoof.

Don't be shy, no one is asking for your top spots but please be generous with sharing your general experience and knowledge.


Cheers


Ramjet
  
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ramjet
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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #1 - Jul 5th, 2013 at 12:07am
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I'll start the ball rolling.

The most common question seems to be 'how do I hunt Sambar'.

Assuming you have a place to hunt there is no substitute for time in the field. It may take several visits to work out the lay of the land, where sign is concentrated and to learn the most discrete way to approach your hunting block.

Firstly, I don't claim to be the resident expert but my observations are as follows:

Sambar are considered notorious for being difficult to hunt and innately more so than other species. I can't say I entirely agree. Any deer species that lives in close proximity to people, as Sambar often do, will typically become adept at utilising what cover is available and become largely nocturnal in their habits. For instance there are red deer in some of the areas I hunt Sambar and I see them no more regularly than I do the Sambar even though I know they are there. Obviously the amount of hunting pressure will dictate how readily these deer will appear during daylight hours and how consistent their habits will be.

Sambar have the same senses and needs as any other deer so therefore the same basic rules of hunting them apply. Their sense of smell is very good so the first consideration needs to be given to wind direction. ALWAYS hunt into the wind. If wind direction changes so too must you change hunting direction with it.

Their sense of hearing is exceptional so movement should be kept to a minimum and where possible a sit and wait approach is advised. In steeper country where I can get a good view I prefer to sit and watch the edge of cover versus attempting to stalk it. However this isn't everyone's cup of tea, or always possible, so moving quietly and making regular use of binoculars to spot parts of a deer at close range is necessary.

During the day when Sambar are typically bedded down they like to have some height. Even in flatter country like coastal pine blocks they will typically be positioned on top of dunes/ridges. This obviously enables them to be alert to approaching danger and also allows them to catch some sun if possible. Therefore always try and hunt from a higher position down if possible. Like us they like to be warm and it is not unusual to spot them standing or sitting in small sunny clearings to warm up, especially after clear, cold nights.

While it is tempting to stalk more open country because it affords a better view and is easier to move quietly this isn't often where you will sight an animal unless it is moving between areas. They prefer thicker cover, they love gorse, flax swamps, blackberry, lupin, broom, pine thinnings, etc. Sometimes it is impossible to stalk through these areas so your only hope is to stalk the edges of these areas. First light when animals are retiring from feeding areas and late evening when animals are restless and hungry are obviously best. But like any hunting you will seem them when you least expect it!

Another method that could be considered is setting up a tree stand, I understand they use one in the Moutua Swamp. This isn't the common kiwi way of hunting perhaps but could be quite useful in the right situation.

It has been said that unlike other deer Sambar will sit tight and allow a hunter to come very close before 'exploding' out from under the hunters feet, much like a Pheasant but without the wings and a few kilos heavier! And they are right this often happens. But like other deer I have also seen several times Sambar trot out of an area a long way ahead of an approaching hunter that they have heard or smelt.

It has also been said that when a group of Sambar are spooked any mature stag often takes a different escape route to the others. How often this actually happens I'm unsure but I know of a hunter who successfully took an exceptional stag by briskly walking in the opposite direction from where he had spooked some animals and caught the stag taking a roundabout escape route. I also know another successful hunter who sat tight on spooking some Sambar and caught the stag trotting back to join the group of hinds several minutes later, presumably when it thought the coast was clear.

When Sambar aren't hiding they like to eat funnily enough. They are a big deer so need a fair bit of fuel. They eat a variety of things depending on availability, the base of flax and toitoi, blackberry leaves, pine bark, broadleaf, gorse flower, as well as grass and a variety of farmers crops. They will also travel a long way for these things. I have seen locked up paddocks three kilometres from any real cover littered with deer prints. In this case the deer were travelling exclusively at night so unless you are prepared to spotlight then you would need to follow these deer back to where they are bedding up during the day and set up an ambush at first or last light.

Sambar love to wallow and are quite comfortable in the water. I have seen a group of hinds and calves (Sambar young are called calves not fawns) walk out into a lake in the Rotorua district and frolic in the water. Hinds will occasionally wallow as well as stags and they will wallow all year round although it is more prevalent during the rut. Many stags I have seen have patches of drying mud on their coats. Knowing where wallows are located and checking them for recent use will give you a good idea as to rutting activity and an active wallow can be a good place to put a trail camera or stake out. The only stag I have pulled the trigger on came out onto a wallow right on last light. While Sambar like the warmth of the sun they are also quite active in the rain so if you don't mind being wet then don't let bad weather put you off a hunt.

Sambar are peculiar in that they have a long rutting period that can potentially stretch several months. I have personally seen stags following hinds from early May to early October although there will be cases outside this period as well I'm sure. However my experience in both Rotorua and Manawatu is that June is a particularly active time as well as July and August. Again time in the field will be your friend and sooner or later you will come across a hind in season with possibly several stags hanging around. I also witnessed an unusual behaviour last year where a stag was following a hind and it appeared another hind was trying to cut her away from him. I would be interested to hear if anyone has witnessed anything similar.

I have seen older stags following a hind while younger stags are hanging about in close proximity. The older stag seems to tolerate this as long as they don't come too close. While Stags often carry scars presumably from fighting I have yet to witness anything more aggressive than posturing where the larger stag moves towards and 'staunches out' a younger, outriding stag that has come too close to his hind. However, I have often seen younger stags 'jousting' each other but this has just involved low intensity pushing and locking antlers.

If you find a hind/s undisturbed it is worth spending time watching. A stag could very well be close by keeping an eye on her. This applies to all hunting but remember the saying 'white man watches little see's little, indian watches lots sees lots'. Only move as much as you need to and use your eyes/binos'.

I haven't observed it myself but others have seen stags in velvet along with stags in hard antler which gave rise to the belief that some stags held their antlers for more than one year. This has been discounted as untrue. The explanation appears to be related to the elongated rutting period. A stag conceived several months earlier than another stag will also drop and start growing his antlers earlier than the other hence the cross over. A friend of mine who is a very experienced Sambar hunter with several top stags to his credit has seen several stags in hard antler as late as December, I have seen them up to late October but my hunting usually comes to an end at this stage of the year.

There's plenty I haven't covered here but it gives a basic start to this thread. More experienced and successful Sambar hunters than I will hopefully contribute further.

Once you have somewhere to hunt then shooting a Sambar is quite achievable. A top trophy, well that can be a different story again although I know of several hunters who have shot a top Sambar stag very early on in their hunting efforts. After several years I have yet to take a good head but that's hunting for you. The thing to try and keep in mind is that while you are out there you are giving yourself a chance.

Hot barrels and I look forward to everyone's contributions and extending my own understanding of these very cool animals.
  
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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #2 - Jul 5th, 2013 at 5:29am
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Ramjet

That's some terrific well written hunting advice, obviously built up over a few sortes.

To be fair I have not shot one, never felt the urge too, but did spend a lot of time as a kid tagging behind my old man while he was taking photos and sneaking around by myself, this was during the period of the moratorium so there were a few about, I remember sneak in on 10 or so stags in a paddock one day and cornering 30 animals in a small pine plantation that they refused to move out of, got to about 5 m rom 2 hinds and a fawn oops calf, was great stalking practice.

The animals then were under very little hunting pressure (apart from the odd poacher) so were out and about a lot more than they are now, but your advice still stood true then, I also remember that are creatures of habit and liked to access there feed areas on the same tracks, we would wait at certain crossings and catch them returning to heavy cover on day break. The tree stand in Moutua worked a treat, had deer move right next to the ladder, they didn't seem to worry about the ground scent at all though. I have seen stags in all stages of antler growth at the same time. I know that theyare sitters for a hunter with a good indicating dog.


Might have to make a point of getting out for a look again on them, once again a terrific post, a great resource, will help many a sambar hunter young or old.

Heres a few old photos I had in the photo box (taken circa 1986, no digital or trail cams Smiley then)










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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #3 - Jul 5th, 2013 at 6:59am
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Awesome pics!!!
gotta love that flax magical little place ,first sambar hunting in there sad to say the deer numbers are nothing like they used to be when i first started, my grand father said the flax used to stretch frm shannon to foxton and the sambar roamed it all love his stories of big stags weighing down the axels of his old ford, they used to catch sambar on the road in those days
  
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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #4 - Jul 5th, 2013 at 9:08am
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Awesome stuff ramjet, you been talking and out hunting with John. Wink Grin
  
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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #5 - Jul 5th, 2013 at 9:31am
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Great advice ramjet! ive got my trip booked for the being of august cant wait to get out amongst it.
  
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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #6 - Jul 6th, 2013 at 2:48am
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ICEMAN wrote on Jul 5th, 2013 at 9:08am:
Awesome stuff ramjet, you been talking and out hunting with John. Wink Grin


I wish I was half the Sambar hunter he is! Wouldn't mind a couple of the heads he has too!
  
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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #7 - Jul 6th, 2013 at 2:59am
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trusty222 wrote on Jul 5th, 2013 at 5:29am:


that's a solid looking stag there trusty, thanks for the photos. i understand the landscape has changed markedly since the good old days, most of the flax swamps drained and converted to farmland. I get the impression that the planting of big pine plantations has been their only saving grace in the area as well as their movement inland.

there are actually still quite a few around although access is the sticking point for many would be hunters. if you don't have contacts with landowners or other generous hunters then one has to be pro-active is generating these contacts and getting permission to hunt.

in some areas they can actually make a nuisance of themselves. a friend recently shot four out of a locked up paddock he was saving for his cattle because they were just stripping it.
  
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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #8 - Jul 6th, 2013 at 3:13am
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ramjet wrote on Jul 6th, 2013 at 2:48am:
I wish I was half the Sambar hunter he is! Wouldn't mind a couple of the heads he has too!


I think your doing pretty good mate, He has some magnificent video footage, Probably the most dedicated and enthusiastic  Sambar  man in the country.  Certainly has some wonderful top class trophies of many of our deer species, I love his big Red that came from  popular/ heavily hunted public land in the central North island, was over 300DS.
  
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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #9 - Jul 6th, 2013 at 6:38am
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Here's a reasonable picture of a sambar hind. I managed to take it from only a few metres. You can see her features are dominated by her radar dish ears.

  
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ramjet
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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #10 - Jul 6th, 2013 at 7:13am
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And a young stag. Probably first year as a 6 pointer but already built like a mini-tank. Unfortunately it is often stags of this age that get bowled over and never get the age they need to reach their potential. Leave them and shoot a hind!

  
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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #11 - Jul 7th, 2013 at 7:58am
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Cheers man, some good info in there. Have never hunted Sambar so cant really contribute although i always planned on getting into them though just need some more time.

Nick

  
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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #12 - Jul 9th, 2013 at 1:36am
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I've seen  a couple spots   where sambar stags have had a serious go , Ground was torn up , hair all over the place , vegetation flattened. When they do have go , it must be  a decent battle
When I get new hunters out with us  my main advice to them is if they are lucky enough to take a stag and have put him on the deck
Don't be shy about giving him another. Many a dead stag has gotten up and run away.
Their ability to hold their nerve is amazing and sometimes you just about stand on them before they go and by the time you've regained your composure they've gone
They will crawl away as well and that is something to see.
It is surprising over here In Oz how many deer you'll within 200 metres of the road.
Especially if the road is running along the top , I find that still days with very light rain will see them out moving around
  

While there is lead in the air ,there is hope
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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #13 - Jul 10th, 2013 at 3:44am
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The one point that Ramjet said earlier said about moving a little and looking a lot.
This is the main way to go , Those that hunt the BOP sambar must have heard the "squeak"" as they pull out the Cutty grass stem and eat the bulb piece on the stalk, Don't know the plant name. This can be heard a fair way off and will easily give way their location.
Let them do the moving , you do the watching
  

While there is lead in the air ,there is hope
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Re: SAMBAR SECRETS
Reply #14 - Jul 10th, 2013 at 7:33am
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great pics there trusty 222,,i spend some time there many moons ago,,possibly put up the first tree stand,,camera only tho
great learning thread for first timers
saw a monster on the flood barrier one time,,he ran for miles across the open to get to another patch of cover,,right past the cattle yards where the lands and survey manager and stuff were drafting cattle
  

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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