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Normal Topic Winthar (Read 3047 times)
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Winthar
Aug 3rd, 2018 at 2:33pm
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In the buildup to my 59th birthday I decided that a 4 day winter Thar hunt would be a good way to test myself and get some much needed bush time.
It wasn't hard to sort a destination. I'm a soft bugger now and my winter hunting is mostly done from huts with the occasional overnight tent trip.    And for huts, the MacAuley is supreme.  Built and maintained by the McKenzie Alpine Trust, it's double glazed, fully insulated and has a mountain radio hooked up to the solar system.
A big firebox and supplied firewood too, so it's all good.
Not to mention that the scenery from inside the hut is simply spectacular.
Day 1 was via Headcases place in Tekapo, wet blowing and miserable and was spent driving in and glassing from the hut while the rain and some sleet made the welcoming fire a miracle of comfort.
I've seen plenty of animals from the hut, but not that day, so an early night and early rise was the go.   
At 6.30 the sky up the valley was overcast, dark and ominous in the early morning light.   Downstream the weather picture was lovely.  Light overcast, enchroaching sunlight and way less snow too. 



 So, obviously, upstream in to the maelstrom was the way to do things for a real test.   Besides, I wanted a long walk and some earnest hard slogging to remind myself how lucky I am to be able to pick up a rifle, walk out the door and go find something to eat.   Nothing like snow, mountains and dangerous country to make me feel alive.
So I walked out the hut at 7.15 and started the walk up toward the glacier.
The walk up the river from the hut is easy going, even though the mild frost had frozen the snow crust and the footing was lethal.  Crampons on till the sun hits.
I was glassing every 30 minutes, concentrating on bluffy, Tharry looking areas and watching for movement.
On my 4th or 5th stop on the true right of the MacAuley I took a seat, grabbed a snack and some water and really put some time in looking.  It was time well spent as, way up in the bluffs above the valley, I saw a mob of 5 -8 mixed age group bulls.   I don't normally target bulls, but with shite weather on the way and also with the general accessibility of this mob, it was stalk on.   From where I was the stalk approach was fairly obvious, especially as the wind was blowing straight down the valley.   It meant a bent over retreat down and across stream and then a  careful ascent, checking periodically to see if they were still in residence.



Problematically, as I was watching them, I was aware that they were paying me some attention too.  However, I had to negotiate open space between me and the nearest cover on their side of the valley floor and that is always tricky as their eyesight is 8 X binocular and they are very quick to recognise movement and danger.   Their weakness is that they don't seem to recognise other quadrupeds as danger, so , staying bent over at the waist and keeping my movements slow and purposeful I was able to gain visual shelter from them, at round the 1100
metre mark, to the valley floor at roughly 650.   Keeping out of sight meant a mean wee climb up a nasty, snow clogged, alpine shrub shrouded gut.   Sheltered from them and the 50 - 60 kph winds, I was able to make slow progress.  The patches of snow amongst the tussocks had up to a metre of snow and it was a real battle to gain precious height as I wanted to come at them from above as they almost always are focused downhill.  It was slow and hard going but by 1.45pm or so, I was adjacent to where they had been, but I couldn't see them.   I spent a precious 1/2 hour just immobile and glassing,, but with nothing to be seen, I started the last part of the climb to get above them positive but wary.
In another hour, I was above them and, thankfully, there they were.  Still looking downhill, they were unaware of me, so, watching my footing and them, I started the descent to them.   The range finder said 230 metres, which is perfectly within range for the 7/08, but I wanted to see how close I could get both for the challenge and also to help overcome the effect of a fairly strong wind.   
Slowly sliding , crouching and snaking my way downhill, I closed the distance, palpable excitement building in me as close became closer.  It doesn't matter how many Thar I've shot, and that's a few, stalking these magnificent creatures in their environment is challenging and exciting.   As a plus, they taste nice!
So, a breather and some prep.   Screw scope to 6 X, set parallax at 100, and creep closer, loaded and safety on.
A downhill and very controlled stalk meant my breathing was even and level, pulse was low and slow and I was ready.   Creeping, feet first sometimes and leaning on my arms and at other times slithering on my gut had me, finally, around 2.00pm, to get within 30 metres or so.   Yet still, they looked downhill, dozed or dreamt.
taking a seated position with elbows locked in to knees gave me a suitable platform and then I waited for at least one of them to stand  as downhill on a lying animal is not a sight picture I value.   20 minutes later and colder by the minute, I needed change.
A slight cough raised one, but he was looking downhill for the source.  Another cough and he turned around and faced 3/4 on, looking for me.   Now, I could have shot him then, but I waited.  All he had to do was take 2 steps and he would be at the top of a very long slide from the top of a snow chute.   It was shite country with a load on, so I waited and, nek minit, he took those steps, I fired and over he went, dropping out of sight!
Bedlam!!  Thar this way and that and, as I wanted a packfull of meat, I lined up on another who, mysteriously, was still looking downhill!  One of the benefits of a suppressor and being higher than they are.   I lined up, let fly and he just disappeared.  I knew the shot was good as I had seen fur flying so I was confident he was a gonner too.
2 shots gone so I reloaded the mag, just in case either needed a finisher, and strode down to find them. 



 Looking over the edge, the slide marks in the snow were a dead (yes, that's right) giveaway.  The second animal had been standing atop a roughly 80 metre vertical drop.   I couldn't see the animals there, but there was only one way they were going so I followed.  This was tiger country with steepness and snow loaded snow grass and nasty drops to contend with.  My descent was careful, considered and cautious.   When I finally did catch up, the two were barely 5 metres apart and virtually on the valley floor.  They had hit the same snow chute and, being the same size and shape, had reached the same endpoint. Neat, and no heavy carry downhill, just downriver!



The second animal had extensive damage.  There was about a 6 inch section of his spine missing about a third of the way from his back legs.  The shot had gone in through his spine just behind the front legs.  There was one intact limb, a rear leg, but the others were busted and twisted and there was gut protruding from his arse too.  That's what happens when you hit 195 kph (roughly terminal velocity).   Both back steaks were munted and the fronts had kind of collapsed and compressed.   Bit of a bugger however the first one shot had munted fronts, an exploded heart but everything else was useful so I took it.
The 3 hour walk back to hut was, as always, a pleasant pain with the hut a very welcoming sight.
There nothing like lifting 20 or 30 kg off your back at the end of a hard hunt.   Surrounded by extravagant beauty and having conquered the terrain, the weather and the senses of a wary animal, I was quietly chuffed.  Stalking them to within such close proximity is also a buzz.  Senses on high alert, the smell and sight of post rut bull Thar at close quarters is exhilarating.
With a crap weather report for the following day I decided to pull the pin and head out to HC's place.
Very pleased I did.  He's a great mate and generous host.
And I got to try his night vision equipment for a night shoot on a farm property near by.   Lethal.
A great 4 days and, yes, at 59 I can still manage a solo winter Thar hunt and come up trumps. 
That'll do.


« Last Edit: Aug 4th, 2018 at 3:34pm by headcase »  
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Re: Winthar
Reply #1 - Aug 3rd, 2018 at 6:33pm
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Well written. Just like being there.  Smiley
  

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Re: Winthar
Reply #2 - Aug 3rd, 2018 at 10:32pm
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choysa,,keep reminding me of what im going to miss
  

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: Winthar
Reply #3 - Aug 4th, 2018 at 5:33am
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Good reading, really enjoyed that!  Cool I am just not sure if I would put you into "soft bugger" group mate...  Grin Thanks for posting!  Smiley
  
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Re: Winthar
Reply #4 - Aug 4th, 2018 at 11:23am
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Well done Ash,you old fart.Its might have been you and HC I tooted to the other night out bunny shooting.
  

Shot a few deer,caugth some big trout and salmon
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Re: Winthar
Reply #5 - Aug 4th, 2018 at 5:24pm
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Very enjoyable read thanks
Hope to get back up that way come november
  
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Re: Winthar
Reply #6 - Aug 4th, 2018 at 5:27pm
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Awesome.
  
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Re: Winthar
Reply #7 - Aug 4th, 2018 at 5:32pm
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Good.
  

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Re: Winthar
Reply #8 - Aug 4th, 2018 at 8:58pm
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Very nice...59 aint old  Cool
  

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Re: Winthar
Reply #9 - Aug 4th, 2018 at 9:26pm
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cool write up, and good effort, for an ol bugga Smiley
  
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Re: Winthar
Reply #10 - Aug 4th, 2018 at 9:30pm
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Thats not a lot of snow up there for this time of the year.
  

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”
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Re: Winthar
Reply #11 - Aug 5th, 2018 at 7:25am
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Well done and thanks for the write up and photos.
  
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Re: Winthar
Reply #12 - Aug 5th, 2018 at 10:29am
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Good report Ash, You're a lot more hardcore that a lot us younger folk.
  

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Re: Winthar
Reply #13 - Aug 5th, 2018 at 5:29pm
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Good stuff Ash
  

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Re: Winthar
Reply #14 - Aug 5th, 2018 at 5:44pm
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What happened to the photos? Can anyone else see them.
  

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”
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