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Stretch
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a tale of two halves
Apr 13th, 2018 at 4:37pm
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Hi team,

Havenít posted in ages, about a year or so. Iíve had a bit on my plate, moved to a new town for work, and invested in a pup for deer so I havenít done so much hunting in the last year! A few deer off the south side of Ruapehu (Thanks ICEMAN for the info), a couple of walk in hunts on the eastern side of the Ruahine (Thanks TLB for the continued info there) and a 5 day fly in into Manson Hut was my last winter effort.

Over spring and summer I spent a lot of time with the pup doing all the things you do when you have a young dog, with a few evening hunts close to home where I came home empty handed for lots of reasons.
But my feet were getting itchy for a decent stint in the hills.

So as the pup hit four months old, I decided that he could use a few days apart from me, and so I flew to Invercargill and left him in the care of my Mum and the family dog. It was time for two weeks of chasing reds in the south!

Dad was keen well before I talked to him about it, so we arranged a fly in to the Takitimu Mountains to a spot neither of us had been to hoping to find a big fella. My goal for this roar was to shoot a mature animal. I didnít care about the antlers, I just wanted to outwit a cunning old stag. The flight was pretty rough, with the pilot letting the strong wind blow him over the main range into our chosen hut. We wasted no time in getting out and about that day, checking out the flats for any sign trying to gauge if they were using the valley floor. There wasnít much happening and it was blowing an icy cold wind down valley.


This was the theme of our trip in there, it just blew and rained and blew some more. Our original plan was to get up onto the tops and glass into a few creek heads for ten days but the constant wind combined with the steep nature of the country we wanted to look at meant tops hunting would have been miserable if not a bit dangerous. So five days of bush grovelling, hunting high and low throughout the wider catchment, led us to one lonely hind, with very little sign seen anywhere at all.
We heard one stag moan a few times one day at distance but he never opened his gob again the followingÖso we got up to the tops, got blown around, called the helicopter company and arranged to get out of there early on day seven.















We had a good look around but the animals just werenít there in any numbers or making enough noise to pin them down especially with the constant wind. It was still a nice walk about and a spectacular bit of country to look at.

So after getting out of there early, we took a day off hunting to do a bit of admin trying to figure out where to go next with the weather coming. After much indecision we eventually chose an area where we have had a bit of luck in the past and looked to have less rain coming than anywhere else in the south. A few hours drive the next day and a few hours walk in led us to a nice little spot on some public land near Te Anau.

On the way in, along a rough track we came across some fresh rubs. I gave a bit of a moan and got a very close but lazy reply. A couple of twigs snapped and a young 8 pointer came in, picking his way along the track, ears windmilling trying to find the intruder. I wanted something a bit older than him so I let him be and he finally caught our wind at twenty odd metres. Not a bad start. I turned to Dad.
ďThe freezers pretty empty, shoot the next one you see for meatĒ. Good as.


Another few hundred metres go by, and more stags start to open up, from all points of the compass. But we kept walking, and I bumped a yearling hind on the track. Seeing a short face and spots on her coat, I picked this one to be a perfect candidate for the parentís freezer and a quick neck shot had her down. After dealing with her for pick up on the walk out, we decided to camp not far away on a little clearing that we hoped would have a few animals hanging about. A quick evening hunt and that was usÖand the stags roared all night long.


Creek on the way in

The next day dawned, frosty and cold and the hills were alive with the sound ofÖ..stags! Some were more worked up than others, but after smashing a quick cuppa and porridge we wandered after the closest one. 100 metres from camp, I roaredÖ.and got a reply but the bugger had two hinds and pushed them away through a band of mountain toatoa at speed. After listening for a little bit to all the stags around us, the next closest one had a roar that was about an octave deeper than any other stag we had heard. He was only roaring very occasionally and didnít need any encouragement from me to do it. Tiptoeing through the beech and a couple of scrubby gullies to where we thought he was parked up took half an hour andÖ.heíd shut up and gone. We were right in his patch and everywhere you went stank of rutting stag.

Coming up and over a little rise that was packed with manuka and toatoa, we heard another close roar. It was the big boy! Following his roaring we ended up doing a big loop back to the clearing we camped on.
I can see him, Dad hissed at me, and we were catching glimpses of a hind and a body of something through the beech running back and forward, onto the clearing and through the bush and all over the place. Heís not very good Dad muttered. I never got a good look at the stag but then the hind stopped in an open patch of beech on the edge of the clearing. She started walking forward slowly and the stag followed. I saw a very wide set of antlers, and a big old body with plenty of muscle up front. He was no scrubber! I made up my mind to shoot him, and as the hind trotted through further into the bush I picked my spot and shot the stag behind the shoulder as he followed.


It didnít drop him but I knew the shot was good. Dad thought Iíd rushed it and didnít mince his words in telling me what he thought of me! I saw him stagger and fall a couple of seconds later..and going over to him I laid eyes on one of the biggest animals I had ever seen let alone shot. I counted nine points with plenty of length and width. Dad came over and I lifted his head up from where he was lying. I couldnít quite do it, and together we pulled him up. A tine came loose out of the ground and he turned into a big old 10. He was exactly what I had hoped for, with big shoulders, and pedicles that were right down low into his skull. He was in his prime, and with no bez tines he was probably never going to grow them at that age.


The big boy




I was rapt!

He was just massive to me, and I could barely turn him for butchering. It ended up being a two man job. I couldnít see why Dad thought he wasnít a shooter, but Dad had been watching a scrubby 6 harassing the hind to begin with. The big guy must have smelt the hind and stolen her away.  So after all that we carried him back to camp which was a whopping 350 metres away.




It was Dadís turn now, and the stags hadnít really shut up with the shot. So off we went in a different direction chasing more stags. He didnít want to pull the trigger on just anything and the rest of that day was full on. We kept getting close to hinds and yearlings with the stags being tougher to get in on. That didnít stop me from managing to roar up a stick antlered 4, a spiker, a scrubby 8 who was quick to run and a young 6  parked up in some kanuka who had a roar that sounded like a man. The bigger ones must have had hinds with them as they would shut up and move away.

The next morning Dadís alarm never went off.  I donít wear a watch so that meant we got up at 8 and emerged to falling snow, and that eerie quiet that comes with it. The stags must have been a bit too cold as nothing was making any noise. We still managed to attract the attention of a big spiker, an older stag who took off with his three hinds very quickly and an 8 who caught our wind as we were sneaking in on him.

It didnít stop snowing and sleeting, and between us we decided to get out of the cold and get home. I had my mature stag and his meat to give away, and Dad had his yearling for the freezer.

All in all, it was an awesome ten days hunting, and to fulfil a goal of mine to get an old boy was the cherry on top. I ran the tape over him at home out of curiosity, and he went 31" long with a spread of 40". Wicked.

Now to hopefully chase sika at the end of the month for a weekend!

Hot barrels,

Stretch.
  
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Re: a tale of two halves
Reply #1 - Apr 13th, 2018 at 5:25pm
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Nice looks like a good trip.
  
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Re: a tale of two halves
Reply #2 - Apr 13th, 2018 at 6:34pm
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Nice stag, well done
  
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Re: a tale of two halves
Reply #3 - Apr 14th, 2018 at 9:29am
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Nice stag Stretch. Good to see the second trip was better than the first half.
  

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Re: a tale of two halves
Reply #4 - Apr 14th, 2018 at 10:15am
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nice one
  

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Re: a tale of two halves
Reply #5 - Apr 14th, 2018 at 10:36am
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Nice detailed report Stretch, wide spread on that old boy. So, finally, a happy hunt was had by all.  Smiley
  

Get as close as you can, then get a bit closer.
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Re: a tale of two halves
Reply #6 - Apr 15th, 2018 at 8:01pm
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thats a head to be proud of,even better you had Dad along with you.
  
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Re: a tale of two halves
Reply #7 - Apr 18th, 2018 at 10:55am
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Cool man, cheers
  
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Re: a tale of two halves
Reply #8 - Apr 18th, 2018 at 6:55pm
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Absolutely brilliant young fella, that is a very impressive Head mate, plus to get that hunting with your dad is truly the icing on the cake.

Those memories last a lifetime, even those trips like your wet and windy affair stay with you. Look forward to seeing plenty more posts from you in the future, a year is too long, lol
  
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Re: a tale of two halves
Reply #9 - Apr 21st, 2018 at 11:47am
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Awesome mate, well done  Smiley
  
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