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Stretch
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A good roar with my kuri
Apr 29th, 2019 at 6:12pm
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Like every year, I was stuck in a state of indecision about where I’d end up for the roar. Last roar I ended up in some old haunts of mine in Southland and I secured the best and oldest stag I’d ever taken. This time around I made a decision pretty late to stay up north and have a good go at a few places with some of my mates.


The first trip was a week long fly in to Ruahine Corner with three mates, Liam, Reuben and Ben. The goal for this trip for me was for my dog to have a good trip. I wanted him to travel well in the helicopter and get me in on a roaring stag.


The hut itself was a cracker. I had read of it as a kid in some old Philip Holden books I found at the library and had always wanted to visit it. Standing on the deck of the hut looking across the golden tussock some fifteen years later was quite surreal.










We had formulated a bit of a plan for us to hunt in pairs.  With Reuben and I being more experienced than the other two, we would play at guiding a little bit and see what we could get onto.
The first day was a bit of a write off getting the lay of the land and listening for groaning stags. Finn led Ben and I onto a dopey yearling who’d chosen to bed down in the middle of the track towards the old Waiokotore Biv site. She wasn’t that dopey in the end as she made a hasty escape. Reuben and Liam had heard a few going in the Ikawetea so they were keen to get in there after them, and Ben and I were going to give the Mangatera heads a bit of a nudge.



The next day was atrocious hunting weather. It was basically raining sideways with a stiff southerly blowing but given we went there to hunt, there was no other option but to get after it.
Ben and I hunted some rubbishy scrub heading towards some likely spurs. It was hard to hear anything and the dog wasn’t interested in much. We had sat down for a snack and a lazy roar or two when a stag shouldered his way through the leatherwood into where we were sitting, spun around and exited the area as quick as he arrived. It gave us a hell of a fright and realistically I shouldn’t have even roared there as neither of us had a good view of the area.


An hour passed and Finn had started off on a scent coming from a short sidespur. He took us a couple of hundred metres to a steep face covered in crown fern and locked up on full point in front of me. I heard rustling in the ferns and a young stag popped up and met the dogs eye. With no time to spare I drew a quick bead on his neck and fired. The stag turned and ran with no sign of a hit. Long story short, Finn and I tracked that animal for over 1 km finding next to no blood and I concluded that I had slightly grazed him. Shit.


It was time to get out of there, so after moving straight through the area where I had been looking for the stag we climbed another ridge aiming for a large plateau we could see at its peak on the maps. If there was anywhere a stag could hang out with ease, it would be here. It had everything. There were significant spurs leading onto it on at least three sides, which would be good feeding and bedding country, and a big flat plateau for a stag to tend to his girls without too much effort. We got up onto it to discover prime stag country. Tall toitoi, some nice openings amongst it and some truly massive beech trees. There had to be a stag here!


After five or so minutes of stalking we heard a roar. It was close, but sounded suspiciously human. After a quick whispered conversation between us, we decided to try cut around behind it to get the wind right and move slowly. The dog would give us an idea if it was a deer or not, until we spotted it. If either of us got too uneasy, we would retreat. I roared once to be greeted with a lazy gurgling moan in reply. After following Finn up onto a fallen tree, I roared a couple of times, with Ben positioned at my feet. The replies became closer still and even more human sounding. I thought I’d try one last half arsed roar before we got out of there.


“Hellllloooooooo” I roared. Ben dropped to the ground, Finn started winding like mad, and the something I couldn’t see pushed through the grass. I watched Ben slowly raise his rifle, thumb the bolt down and squeeze the trigger.
A few steps later and a young 7 pointer lay at our feet.







Everything had panned out perfectly, Ben had his first roaring stag, Finn had done his job and I had been there to see it all. It was a good reminder to us as well, of how strange a stag can sound sometimes and that you should never assume anything in the bush. After getting onto two more stags on the way out thanks to an overly keen dog we ended up at the hut at 11 pm after a 17 hr day, knackered but stoked!

Reuben and Liam had had a less productive day, getting stuck in thick bush in the Ikawetea and spooking a stag that had snuck in quietly to their roaring. After our success, they chose to head back to the same area we had just hunted while Ben and I retrieved all of the meat from a stream where we had stashed it in our exhaustion the day before.


While we were retrieving the meat there were stags going fairly well all over the place. One in particular in the area immediately under Potae peak had a full lion like grunt and we actually got a glimpse of him through a gap in the jungle as he moved down into a punga covered gut.  However the main goal was to get the meat out to the meatsafe and after that was done it was too dark for an evening shot. Reuben and Liam came back into camp a bit dejected, and hadn’t heard or seen a thing.




Day Four was my turn to take Liam for a stroll, and Reuben and Ben decided to go for a hunt into the Waiokotore area. We all went along to Potae for a listen, and after hearing nothing in the Ikawetea or Mangatera it was decided Liam and I would try for the stag I had seen under Potae the previous day. It was nothing but frustration for Liam and I as we couldn’t make any progress into the bush lawyer ridden jungle below Potae. We didn’t see or hear a thing for the rest of the day and the only thing of note that happened was finding an old exclosure plot as we made our way toward Black Hill.










The final full day of the trip came and it was looking good. I had made a deal with the boys at the beginning that I’d get at least one day to hunt solo and this was it. After a big few days of covering ground and hunting hard they wanted to take it easy, sleep in a bit and go up Black Hill, looking into the back of it where it was rumoured to be good hunting. I wanted to be in the Waiokotore area where the map showed some nice terraces that looked like good stag country. At the end of the day my goal was to get the dog some work and I had a good feeling that he would work even better with just the two of us.  I got up a little later than I had hoped, and made good time into the Waiokotore. It was quiet along the top as I dropped down onto the Waiokotore track, with the dog trotting along at a good range in front of me. I was excited.


We had probably gone a kilometre along the track when the dog stepped off the side and looked over his shoulder at me. I moved him on with a pat and we picked our way a few metres into a little hollow under the beech, surrounded by pepperwood. The dog was winding pretty well, but the silence was deafening. I gave out one roar and immediately spotted a big black body in the pepperwood turn and move towards me maybe twenty metres away, along with some antler. It got to the edge of the pepperwood and all I could see was a big neck and three white tipped tines. No face, no body, nothing more than a neck and the three top tines rising above the red tinged leaves. I could feel Finn leaning against my leg shaking with excitement. I waited for nearly ten minutes for something to happen but the stag never fully emerged and slowly moved into the thicket where I had no hope of following him quietly. I waited for a few minutes, gave Finn a heap of praise and decided to move back to the track.


We hadn’t gone fifty metres when Finn found a well used wallow in the middle of the track, and looked over his shoulder again wanting me to follow him. The dog led me down a beautiful open ridge full of rice grass, but the noisy travel through that stuff spooked three hinds that had been bedded down in the middle of it, and they snuck off quietly down into the main stream. The wind swung again and I had to leave my open ridge and head into a series of shallow guts. That ended up being quite productive as Finn led me to yet another deer, a yearling who stood there peering at me. With all the time in the world I got a rest, already thinking that it would be an easy one. I was wrong as the deer turned as I fired at its neck, and took off unscathed. Still, I had to praise Finn for leading me onto the fifth deer of the morning.


As we sidled through these shallow gully systems, the dog got yet another wind and we went to the crest of a small saddle that split into two flat ridges with bluffs on the ends of them. As I approached the saddle I heard roaring, and it was bloody close! The wind had begun to swirl as the saddle was interfering with its direction and so I snuck around through the saddle on to the left hand ridge practically running to get the wind right as the stag roared from the foot of the other ridge maybe 100 yards off. As I crested the ridge to look onto the other one I spotted him! A big bodied animal with a reasonable set of antlers, staring up at where I roared from last, waiting for something to happen. He held his head low in line with his backbone and looked old enough so I wasted no time in putting a round through his shoulder. He staggered slightly, shook himself like a dog and began to turn towards the main stream where I would lose him if he made it into the gorgey stuff. I reloaded and shot him in the chest and this time he was down for the count.

We made our way down to find this fella lying there.





My first Ruahine stag, my first roaring stag with the dog, and a last chance stag to fill the freezers of the team. So after taking everything I could get from him and his head it was an easy 300 metre climb back to the track. It would have been anyway, if Finn hadn’t led me to another two hinds a few metres off the top to make eight deer for the day. Unreal!
It was a happy group of hunters who cracked open a celebratory bottle of rum that night, and we exited the hills with 40 odd kilos of prime venison for our weeks hunting.



Easter rolled around after a day or two back at work, and I got stuck in the mental quicksand of indecision again. Did I brave the crowds? Or did I let some gift days for hunting slide on by? I wallowed in the quicksand for a day before trying to get to the Lakes carpark for an evening hunt. Upon arrival there were 22 cars in various stages of movement in and out of the area! I’d seen enough and went back to town. However I needed to scratch the hunting itch and so I went down to the Ruahines again to flycamp for a night on a front country ridge on the eastern side.



All was very quiet and I didn’t hear a single roar that night. The next morning Finn led me onto two deer, one of which must have been the oldest hind in the park. I didn’t really want to take her and she busted us before I got a chance to see the other one with her.


Another couple of days went by and Reuben and I went for a 4 day walkabout over Anzac weekend in the Kawekas hoping for a sika for Reuben. We covered a bit of country in the Mangaturutu and Makino catchments, getting bluffed out, squealed at, stung by ongaonga, discovering well made bivvies (some of you will know where I'm talking about) whistled at by multiple pairs of whio, and generally being given the run around by the cunning sika deer.








The closest I got to a shot was on a stag that the dog indicated in a shallow gut. He climbed up the other side of the gut, I tracked him through the scope and he disappeared behind a big beech tree. I thought I was certain to get him as he exited out the other side but he never came out from behind the tree, turning and escaping while hiding himself behind the bulk of the trunk. It was pretty amazing really. After seeing a couple more hinds which never presented good opportunities it was out to the car to end the roar and to end a solid 14 days of hunting for me.

Hope you all had a good roar and the freezers are full.

Cheers, Smiley Smiley

Stretch
  
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Shayne
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Re: A good roar with my kuri
Reply #1 - Apr 29th, 2019 at 7:01pm
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Thanks for that, fantastic read. I love visiting that area.
  
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Re: A good roar with my kuri
Reply #2 - Apr 30th, 2019 at 8:33am
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Excellent report thank you. Your dog sounds like a beaut.
  

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Re: A good roar with my kuri
Reply #3 - Apr 30th, 2019 at 9:03am
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Good write up, sounds like some good hunting there. Good dog, leading you to so many deer. Must be hard for the dog when you don't shoot them sometimes.
  
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Re: A good roar with my kuri
Reply #4 - Apr 30th, 2019 at 4:48pm
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Thanks for yr report Stretch,a good read.Yr dog gota good noise,praise him well. Wink
  

Shot a few deer,caugth some big trout and salmon
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Re: A good roar with my kuri
Reply #5 - Apr 30th, 2019 at 5:55pm
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Good read, thanks
  
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Re: A good roar with my kuri
Reply #6 - Apr 30th, 2019 at 6:36pm
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BC wrote on Apr 30th, 2019 at 8:33am:
Excellent report thank you. Your dog sounds like a beaut.



I hope he's half as good as your Tilly some day!
  
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Re: A good roar with my kuri
Reply #7 - Apr 30th, 2019 at 7:29pm
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he disappeared behind a big beech tree. I thought I was certain to get him as he exited out the other side but he never came out from behind the tree, turning and escaping while hiding himself behind the bulk of the trunk

I've had the same thing happen once. Makes you wonder if they know what they're doing.

Great report Stretch. You certainly had a few good roar hunts.
  

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Re: A good roar with my kuri
Reply #8 - May 1st, 2019 at 5:26pm
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Yeah a great read thanks, love that part of the Ruahines, both those stags looked to be in good condition especially the first one. Had a chuckle when you mentioned the bush lawyer in the jungle below Potae.
  
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Re: A good roar with my kuri
Reply #9 - May 15th, 2019 at 4:26pm
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Outstanding, a very enjoyable and  entertaining write up young fella. Following your hunts is nice for those of us who can no longer climb into the big country. Thanks for sharing
  
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