Jump forward to 2015. On a property I had hunted for the previous 22 years and had for the last 3 years had three Game Cameras set, it was time to chase the big Fallow Buck I had long desired.
The cameras had captured three or four representative stags over the years but no record book specimens, not that that mattered to me; it was all about the hunt. The evidence had stacked up in the images, mainly young bucks and does frequented the property with the bucks growing out their heads by early February when they always seemed to disappear, no doubt to greener rutting grounds. By early May they, and a small number of more mature bucks, began to reappear, likely to put back on condition lost blueing over the girls.A three day hunt with Matt was locked in for mid-May. It started out well but then headed south at a huge rate of knots. On the first afternoon, whilst sitting just below the ridge top, upwind of a big bowled multi-gully system where I had heard a few half-hearted grunts from belated ruters. Then before the bottom of the sun hit the western ridges I heard something making his way towards me through the scrub below. I watched a big boar slowly work his way up the gully and eventually, out of sight of me, he exited onto the open plateau top behind me. Whilst I was making my way slowly back to the plateau the loud familiar ruckus of boars fighting broke out. Handy, I thought, for some video which I did, although only of the victor and of poor quality in fading light.So Mr. Victor after feeding for a few minutes, starts wandering back down a game trail to where he must have originally emerged from the bush, but then hitting the bushline he turns and follows the plateau edge towards me. Being all self-consumed in this great opportunity I video on.
In a micro second he hits full throttle. I drop the camera, swing the slinged rifle up, knock the safety off and boom, shoot straight over his back as he closes the last four metres. It is just enough persuasion to turn him left, down into the gully. But as the shot echoed across the gully I fear I have put an end to successful stalking in my targeted location.I walk back to camp pissed at myself but allay the anger with knowledge I have some great video. In reality, it turns out that using a camera with gloves is a pretty poor idea as I must have either missed the record button or double pushed it starting then stopping it, and alas have no footage of the boars’ approach on me at all.
The next morning after a pre-hunt meeting, Matt persuades me to stick to my original plan.
After several hours of contouring and glassing, generally across wind, it is time to drop a bit of elevation into the bushline and turn 180 degrees back looking for fresh sign. Forty five minutes later I am on good sign and contouring back in the original direction. The sign is gone and I am standing on the top edge of a lush protected bowl at the base of a rock face that would bluff out any vertical climb.
I stop and glass. 200 metres beyond the opposite side of the bowl I glass a cow, no wait, it can’t be, it is, a spike Red Stag. I can’t believe it. He is very alert bashing a bush. I drop to my belly remove my camera and proceed to video him. Fifteen minutes pass and he slowly moves off after pissing all over himself.
I wait, then glass all round, attempting to avoid that rookie mistake of not knowing your surrounds in case other game has moved in. The little wrens and finches are still chirping and hopping all round me, within metres. A good sign that the bush and it critters are comfortable with my presence.
I stand and glass again. Nothing. I take four steps around the rock face. I am stunned. Two Red Stags, a 6 and 8 pointer of about three or four years are grazing 70 metres in front of me and a little higher than my position. I have always wanted a Red but never even seen one in the flesh on this block; only a few hinds and spikeys on the Game Cameras.