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High country boy
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public land red stag
May 11th, 2017 at 10:18am
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Gday guys I thought I'd share my yarn of the big stag that I got that I posted in the red stags hitting the deck thread. I have written this story for Rod and Rifle but thought I'd like to share it here too seeing it's a roar story. I hope you guys enjoy it

For the 2016 roar me and some mates had drawn a block in the haast ballot. Our attempts were unsuccessful, however it got Dad, myself and my brother Ryan talking on making a real good effort of a roar trip for 2017. Normally we tend to spend these popular periods out of the hills but this year we wanted to give it a shot. We put in a application for the Wanaka roar ballot unfortunately  we got the dreaded unsuccessful email.  However we did have a back up plan to save us from utter disappointment it just meant that we would be sharing the area instead of having a block to ourselves. Roll around April 2017 and the reports of the stags making noises was in full swing so we believed we’d timed our dates well.

Day 1:
Our packs were full to the brim as we had three nights planned of fly camping as we wanted to keep our distance from any huts.  We arrived at our first days campsite at mid day. We quickly set up our campsite and took the essentials for the afternoon hunt and made headway for the top of valley.  This area is devoid of much bush however we have seen animals there before and had reason to believe a stag could be holding here. The afternoon was warm and there was a moderate breeze blowing down the valley. For hunting red stags this wasn't ideal as it meant they weren't in the mood for roaring and furthermore the breeze would carry our attempts at imitating them. It was  getting on to about 3pm and no animals were seen however we were in good country and we hoped as the afternoon rolled on the animals would become more mobile. After spending a good amount of time behind the binos Dad muttered the magic words “ I can see a stag.” We then spent the next several minutes all being useless at trying to work out or tell each other where the deer was but eventually we all located it. It was still bedded down with just its head showing, I don't think i will ever know how he actually managed to spot. I whipped out the trusty Canon Sx60 and evaluated his head. He was a scrubby stag and really wasn't what we were after. It was almost disappointing that he was holding a couple of hinds as he really needed to be culled. But we weren't here for meat or culling so he was left for another day. We made our way back to camp with several glassing stops with no further stags seen. We arrived back at camp at about 5:30pm and got some dinner on. After wolfing it down we decided that a slip coming out of the bush opposite camp would make an ideal vantage point for an evening glass. As darkness was slowly creeping on I spotted a Hind and fawn feeding on a terrace above camp but oddly there was no stags with them. Not long after this dad spotted a chamois buck on another terrace just around the corner. He was too far for evaluation but was evidently a buck based on him being a solitary animal. Fly camping has its disadvantages and one of those is that once its dark you're more or less ushered into your tent which at this time of year at 7pm isn't particularly appealing. Disappointingly we were treated to any roaring during the night.

Day 2: Dad was up just before the birdsong and collected some water for our breakfasts. In the process we could hear a deer that had startled by his headlamp and could be heard clattering away through the rocks and spooked a pair of parries and due to the racket me and Ryan were well awake and were now preparing our breakfast. Just after dusk we took off up the valley where we were going to go up a couple of km and cut up to the tops and then make our way back on a loop sidling through the gullies and back down to camp. By the time we reached where we were going to head up the hill it was light enough to satisify ourselves with a quick glass. On the terraces i picked up a spiker and a hind. Very strange we thought as a spiker shouldn't be holding hinds in peak rut.  We cut up through the bush to the tops. The benefit of being well up the valley was that the climb through the bush doesn't take long so in no time we were met with the alpine scrub band. Fortunately for us it wasn't very dense and we made our way into the tussock without much of a struggle. Dad and myself sat down for a glass as we waited for Ryan. I said to Dad that ill just poke my nose into the wee gut to our right. I made my way over and with every step I took it looked more and more promising for an animal, then what do you know directly below me I spotted a Chamois buck feeding. I beckoned Dad over and we looked him over. Ryan ranged him at 44meters and with him completely oblivious to presence I knew I could really evaluate him thoroughly. Through my camera I made the final call that he had good height but really lacked hooks. We approximated his length at absolutely no more than 9inch. Considering all three of us have shot bucks of this calibre before we decided there was no need to take him and that he would make a much better trophy for someone else so we left him undisturbed. We continued to climb higher and found some fresh deer tracks but no deer were seen. We had a quick muesli bar and began to sidle back to above camp. Half way through our sidling the fog that had been hanging about the valley really decided to roll in and before we knew it our visbility was down to about 50m then to about 15m although we were in no danger of losing our bearings but we couldn't see to hunt so we decided we would try wait it out. It didn't take long and we really started to chill off in the mountain air. After three quarters of an hour the fog finally lifted and we could see again. It was very nice to get the blood pumping again and warm up. Eventually we made it to the gully which would be where we stopped sidling. From here we had a good view across the other side of the valley above camp where we hadn't previously been able to glass. After not long Dad picked up two hinds and fawn across the valley. Again they didn't have a stag with them and we came to the conclusion that the one in this area of the valley had been possibly taken already. So as a result we decided it was time to move further down the valley to where there was a bit more bush. To cement the fact that there wasn't a stag with them they got up and moved closer towards the bush for some reason and no stags were observed getting up and wondering where his harem were off to. We quickly cut back down to camp and packed up for our move about 5km down the valley. We found an ideal we campsite nestled up near the bush line providing some shelter from the wind and away from rushing water so we had the  best chance of hearing the stags roaring. After setting up camp we took out the binos and really began to work the opposite faces. I managed to spot a chamois buck way back up the valley other than that no other animals were seen which really disappointed us as we had expected them to start to move out of the bush after 4pm. We had a bit of a dejected dinner around 5:30pm. Just after we finished dinner Dad picked up the binos again the words deer rang out and Ryan and myself hastily got out the binos and located them for ourselves. A hind and a fawn. A good start. Another I said, as I watched a yearling make its way onto a slip. We decided now was a good time to let a roar rip. Sweeter  music has never hit our ears as a stag replied from up the opposite side of the valley the first we’d heard for the trip. Now we really got the glass working trying to locate him. There he goes says Dad. We all picked him up coming down a bit of a chute. It wasn't until he was halfway down that I could properly see him through the camera. He's a good one I said. He had nice spread was about mid 30’s in length, good timber strength. And peculiarly had at the time what we called a throw back tine. On his left antler something we didn't now existed in the area. Upon doing research later i found that the throw back for the windsor park herd was on the right antlers. So i guess this may have been more of a random tine. None the less it would make it an awesome character head. He was still coming down and he was coming fast. It was all on, we grabbed our rifles and made our way across the valley to try and intercept him and left Dad on the other side to watch. We were supposed to have radios however as they do one managed to turn itself on in Dads pack and was now dead so effectively both were no useless. When we last saw him he looked like he was going to run right into us. Once we popped up on terrace we crept through the matagouri ready for us to meet him head on anywhere. However as Murphys law would have it Dad watched him disappear on the opposite side of some scrub to us, and we would have crossed parallel to him at <100m. If only we had some radios or something so he could tell us… Ryan and myself walked back across to camp and on the way watched a spiker move out of the bush onto the flats and by the time we returned to Dad he was crossing right through the middle of the valley where he was swallowed up by the darkness. Which was our que to hop into bed. Because I knew we would be in bed hours before I could go to sleep I brought a kindle to read off. After about 15min of reading it began. A stag gave out a moan not far from camp and this got everything going. It was unreal. As a kid I've always dreamt of being able to lie in bed and listen to stags roar all night. Even though they may have slightly deprived my sleep I don't think I ever thought Id like them to shut up.

Day 3:
Me and Dad were up before light and the stags were still roaring on the flats as we got changed. It was all on. Little did we know was these deer were well trainned and in the five minutes it'd taken us to get out of the tent it'd gotten a bit lighter and they'd shut up. We started glassing as soon as we could see. It looked like most of the animals had ghosted back into the bush. We then made out a stag about 1km down the valley who actually looked to be making his way right across the middle of the valley to the bush on the other side. We had no other choice but to try and cut him off on the other side. So we made off across the valley. We made it half way and I could see he was steering straight at us, and just like that he cantered off back to where he came from gone into the bush. We returned back to Dad and had a converstation. We had now realised that the deer in this area were well educated and didn't roar during the day time and didn't spend anytime in the open after it got light so deer hunting was effectively off the cards. However we managed to pick up the Chamois buck right where we was the previous evening so it was decided that this was what we were to do today. Walking up the valley we observed the Chamois actually get quite agitated by us and start to make his way around the corner, however this didn't concern us as we were going up there none the less. When we reached the tops and could see again we realised that about 100m above our height was ingulfed in fog. This basically only left us with the being able to look into the floor of the hanging basin we’d climbed up above. We had a little glass and then found ourselves struck with de ja vu waiting for the fog to clear for the second day. When in the valley floor a colour caught my eye. I watched it for a good amount of time but it wasn't going anywhere and I wasn't sure if i could be  bothered getting my binos back out only to see a bush. But anyway I decided I really should just check. And what do you know its a Chamois buck. So out came the camera and I gave it a real good go at evaulating it.  It looked bigger than yesterdays one and I thought it could be 9.5-10 inch. The day was still young and we didn't have anywhere else to go so we dropped down to try get a closer evaluation on him. We spotted a doe and a kid on the face across the basin to him once we got down there and they had spotted us. Eventually he caught there gaze and spotted us and we were forced to make a decision. Ryan ranged him at 270 m and I got my camera out to look at his horns. I finally got a look at his horns with him looking at me front on. At this point I realised that he was only about 8-8.5inch as his horns weren't far above his ears and I passed on the shot to Ryan as he was keen for a crack. He lined up, BOOM! A clear miss.  We both wondered what had happened. Luckily I’d recorded the shot on my camera and it was apparant that his rifle had taken a good knock somewhere along the line as the bullet hit perfectly in line but about a foot in front of this feet. From reviewing the video it was clear this wasn't due to bullet drop as the footage showed the bullet traveling flat. This was unfortunate but thats just hunting. Although it was fair to say he got a bit of a ribbing from me for missing for the rest of the day. On the way back to camp we split up, they went down into the open in the river and i went for a wee bush stalk. Although there wasn't much sign around it was nice just going slow and enjoying being in the bush rather than motoring to the tops as usual. When I rejoined them at camp it was about 2pm and the wasn't any animals out. Dad went for a walk up to the bush line on our side whilst me and Ryan kept our eyes on the opposite faces. About bang on 4pm the yearling walked out just below where I watched the previous evening. Once Dad returned we had an early dinner at about 4:30pm so we were prepared if we were to see a stag in the next two and a half hours of light. Not long after we got to glassing Dad spotted a stag that had just walked out of the bush and was giving a poor beech sapling a thrashing. The excitement was high now. I checked his head through my camera and found he was a very young stag with his first head after spiker we estimated. So we just watched him climb way up high and eventually out of sight. Things went a bit quiet and but we were getting the occasional moan in reply to our roars. A spiker with huge length stepped out of the bush and then started harassing a hind but no other stags were being seen. At about 6:30pm Dad tapped me on the shoulder I couldn't believe it, standing in the middle of the flats looking at us was a stag. He too was a young stag but had good length and would be a great potential animal give 3-4 years. He provided a good opportunity for some photos as he wandered past us  completely undisturbed by us and continued miles down the valley. Its amazing how quickly they wander when they are on a mission. No more stags were seen that evening which was dissapointing because given we had to be out early the next morning it didn't leave much time for any hunting. Just after dark the spiker piped up for a couple of roars and that was it, silence for the rest of the night.

Day 4:
Dad got up just before dark and I was making noises like I was too. Dad said just stay in bed if you want. I lay there and contemplated it for a couple of minutes but thought how disappointing it would be if I missed out because i didn't get up. So I got up with Dad and as soon as it was light we began glassing. Nothing… how disappointing. I took my eyes down off my binos and was looking around when a dark shape that hadn't been there before caught my eye. I checked with my binos and confirmed it. A stag! He was on the same side of the valley as us about a Kilometre down. I grabbed my gun and took off down the valley on my own to try get him before he reached the safety of the bush. He was feeding on a gravel fan that came out of the bush. The fan formed a V in the bush. This provided me with the opportunity to move swiftly along the bush edge while he was in the V and I was out of sight. Once I was within 200m of where I assumed I would be able to see him I slowed right down and controlled my breathing and got my rifle prepared for shooting. Once I was within 50m of where I should be able to see him I crept up into the bush where I was hoping I could cut into the middle of the V hidden in the bush and get a closer shot without him seeing me. This was difficult as the bush was very dry and I struggled not to make noise so I just stayed 5m inside the bush to provide a little cover. Through the trees I spotted him. I couldn't believe it he was still there. Now the adrenaline really kicked in and I was consciously making sure I wasn't going to get buck fever. I was trying to creep to a dead tree where I could take a prone rest when for whatever reason he spotted me. I never really thought much about his antlers but I remember thinking they had good length shape and strength and that was it I just knew he was a shooter. The best thing I could do was rest up against a tree. I lined him up in the scope and he went from broadside to quartering sharply towards me and the only shot I could take was in the front of the chest which was less than ideal. BOOM! he didn't drop. He took off running down the fan and then turned hard at 45 degrees towards the bush on the other side. From the back I could see his big rack disappear over the lee of the fan. I took off to try and see where he was going into the bush and get a shot at him. When I got over there I saw an arse end disappear into some really really thick beech regrowth. There was a wee rise to the right of this in the bush which I went up on top of to look into the bush for him moving away. Nothing. I listened for the thrashing of a leg or running.Nothing. I was really getting worried now. Meanwhile back at camp they had heard the shot and were pretty excited. I quickly looked around the area but couldn't find a dead deer. I found two hoof prints in the gravel on the other side of the bush and followed it along the route where he'd come from after I shot. Not a speck of blood to be found. I walked very dejected with myself back to camp. How could I miss?! When I returned to camp Dad asked how I went. “I missed…” You're kidding me came Dads reply. And unfortunately I didn't think I was. The tables had now turned on me and I was now on the receiving end of the ribbings for missing.  Over breakfast I explained to Dad the story. We both agreed on the fact that he did take off down hill which is a trait of an animal thats been shot. So we decided we were going back to check for blood to ensure there wasn't a wounded animal there. When we got there I showed him where he was and we followed to where he roughly went into the bush. We split up to have a look around. Suddenly the breeze swirled around and the unmistakable billy goat smell of a rutting stag caught my noise. As quick as a whippet I followed the smell. My heart was racing could it be possible? I then found some bent over beech stalks where something had moved through. “ Guys come quick I think he's in here.” I took five steps and in a wee clearing in the extremely thick bush lay the stag dead as a stone.  “IVE FOUND HIM I YELLED.” Dad and Ryan came running down. I grabbed his antlers and rolled his head over.  Holy shit he's a 14 pointer. Then came the congratulatory hand shakes. I was stoked, I just couldn't believe I’d found him after for the last hour or believing I’d missed him and he was gone. We took some photos and took meat and the head. We found the bullet had actually hit him right where I placed it and travelled down the length of his body with no exit. The bullet had ruined his left shoulder and taken out the bottom of the lungs and he had bleed out internally hence why there was not a speck of blood to be found. Ive now boiled up his head and cleaned and bleached it and it now makes a nice euro mount sitting on the wall of our living room as a memento of an awesome trip with an awesome result.


Some hinds and yearlings we glassed on day 2


The chamois buck from day 2 that we let go


The stag from the evening of day two with the throwback which can be seen below the yellow flower. If there's anybody who could give me further insight about it I'd be keen to know


The chamois buck from day 3 that Ryan missed


The curious 7 pointer that came into our roars


The stag
« Last Edit: Jul 26th, 2017 at 9:46pm by headcase »  
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JoshC
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Re: public land red stag
Reply #1 - May 11th, 2017 at 11:43am
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Ripper mate  Cool Cool Cool
  
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Re: public land red stag
Reply #2 - May 11th, 2017 at 1:43pm
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Very nice piece of bone
  
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Re: public land red stag
Reply #3 - May 11th, 2017 at 2:28pm
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Good timber there fella.  And good job you took the option of a second look.
  
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Re: public land red stag
Reply #4 - May 11th, 2017 at 4:02pm
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Nice stag there, look forward to reading it again in the magazine Smiley
  
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Re: public land red stag
Reply #5 - May 12th, 2017 at 9:01am
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Cool Cool Cool Cool
  

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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Re: public land red stag
Reply #6 - May 12th, 2017 at 9:13am
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Cheers guys. Yea certainly was good we went back for a look
  
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Re: public land red stag
Reply #7 - May 12th, 2017 at 10:32am
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Beautiful stag. Any idea what he scores?
  

Keep the wind in your face and your freezer full.
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Re: public land red stag
Reply #8 - May 12th, 2017 at 10:56am
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meathunter72 wrote on May 12th, 2017 at 10:32am:
Beautiful stag. Any idea what he scores?

I tried to roughly do it myself and it scored 286 but i was a little bit lost going around the tops so it that's only a pretty rough number
  
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Re: public land red stag
Reply #9 - May 12th, 2017 at 12:34pm
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What a beautiful, even head.
Congrats
  
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Re: public land red stag
Reply #10 - May 13th, 2017 at 7:51am
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Well done HCB,he s a wall hanger for sure.My twelve had a 292 D/S,so your 14 might tip over the 300 D/S,the magic number. Wink
  

Shot a few deer,caugth some big trout and salmon
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Re: public land red stag
Reply #11 - May 15th, 2017 at 9:12am
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Trout wrote on May 13th, 2017 at 7:51am:
Well done HCB,he s a wall hanger for sure.My twelve had a 292 D/S,so your 14 might tip over the 300 D/S,the magic number. Wink

What was the length on your 12? My stag was only 33" so that held it back a bit
  
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Re: public land red stag
Reply #12 - May 17th, 2017 at 5:46pm
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High country boy wrote on May 15th, 2017 at 9:12am:
Trout wrote on May 13th, 2017 at 7:51am:
Well done HCB,he s a wall hanger for sure.My twelve had a 292 D/S,so your 14 might tip over the 300 D/S,the magic number. Wink

What was the length on your 12? My stag was only 33" so that held it back a bit

Stag was left 37" right 38" Spread 34".Browzs 15"
That will give you something to work with. Wink
  

Shot a few deer,caugth some big trout and salmon
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Re: public land red stag
Reply #13 - May 23rd, 2017 at 11:27am
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Nice
  
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Re: public land red stag
Reply #14 - Jun 1st, 2017 at 10:51pm
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Bet you're glad you went back for a look!! Congrats!
  
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