I dig some leccy tape out of my pack and sort-of reattach his tines. Many pics are taken. Tom capes him (and discovers that my second shot appears to have jarred & broken the big boys neck; that’s why he dropped) and I take as much meat as we can carry out. Tom takes my rifle but the head and cape are my load to walk down the hills with. And I love it.
We take him straight to the taxo who has a laugh about it but reassures me that yeah, fixing those points won’t be an issue. Now it’s Bevan’s turn. Back up into the hills we go. Soooo much easier to walk the hills without a rifle and ammo, just a pack, water and camera. Should do it more often.
My shot has pushed everything into cover though and we don’t see much but hinds and fawns, however the monster 11 pointer appears again, on a different ridge just before dark. We head back home for a short night. And to again confirm that yes, beer tastes good after success. And Rum tastes even better. As is my habit now, I had snagged a pair of bottles of Bundaberg Liquor in Duty Free. Because you can neck that stuff straight out of the bottle. We all enjoyed the quick celebration. And some venison. Mmmm.
So now it’s Friday. The last day of our hunt and we are on the Redeye next morning. We need to find Stags. And once again, till midday we see nothing but hinds and fawns. It was far hotter and the sky is clearer. Bevan and I are melting in our thermals and fleecy camo, so we both strip out of the thermals and get dressed again. Then, the cloud rolls back over the mountains and the temperature falls by ohhh… 15 degrees. And we are cold again.Finally, a Stag appears. We are on the same point as day one, as far out as we can go. And a heavy 6x5 walks into a tiny opening at 465m. Bevan closes the bolt on his .257Wby Vanguard.
A .257 Weatherby is a flat shooting laser and his is sighted only 4” low at 400m. However Bevan is shooting downhill. At 465 metres, and we are frankly guessing where it’s going. We know where it should go in theory, but practical experience would be better. And it’s a shit shot to take. There are some leaves, and the brief look we have shows the Stag with his head turned feeding behind his opposite shoulder. The 100gn monolithic copper projectile will likely exit at that range… and the Stag’s head is in the firing line. Tom gets Bevo to hold fire and then the Stag takes a few steps to feed and is gone from our sight.
Bevan is stressing now. Did his one chance just walk off? There is no guarantee he can ever do this trip again. Tom promises an identical booking next year just at day rate with no Trophy Fee but Bevo is understandably under the pump, contemplating “failure”, through no fault of his own. He asks if we could go after the 10 point bush Stag in the pen. Tom wants to deliver the promised free range hunt but Bevan convinces Tom that he will be perfectly happy to hunt in the pen, on the last afternoon. Because there are financial realities he can’t ignore, and time is now real short. We spend the afternoon walking and glassing, and find the breeding Stag and a lot of hinds, and a few young Stags… but no big old swamp donkey.
Then, at 5pm Tom looks down into a likely overgrown gully from a different angle than we had tried before and there he is. Old bastard has been watching us look for him. And he backs into the bushes in the gully and proceeds to wait us out.
We wait, and wait; we can just see the royal tops on his LHS antler and nothing else. In contrast, you can very easily see the weight on Bevan’s shoulders. At 7pm I offer to walk around the ridge and down the head of the gully to flush the stag out. Tom says no, the Stag will bolt and that’ll be it, all over. Bevan has been lying down behind the rifle 300m from the gully where the Stag is holed up for 2 hours now. Finally though, at 7.10pm he finally steps out up onto the bank. Bevan hits him from high, quartering down through the lungs and opposite shoulder in another perfect shot and I have a great view of it in the Bino’s. The others are wondering does he need a second hit but I am confident it’s all over. He can’t move uphill, staggers and falls, rolling into another gully. And doesn’t move again. Bevan’s relief is huuuuuuuge. Job done.
We take pics and Tom capes again, Bevo gets the carry out experience and we roll straight to the taxo. Barry Ryan is a nice fella and doesn’t seem to care that we take him away from the Rugby Union at the pub. We drop off Bevans Trophy and pick up mine and my mate Cameron’s Tahr skulls and tanned capes (our November 2017 hunt) from there for me to take back to Australia in just a few hours.Our hunt is done, and we are both happy. I was the lucky one, getting to shoot a stonker first after Gita shortened our time on the ground.
Editor Note: Great Sentiments Alan.Decide that one for yourself. But I will return to NZ. I booked a Tahr Rut hunt just before I started to write this. I confirmed a few other things though, whilst over in Kiwiland.
Finally, all Kiwis seem to have an attitude toward hunting that Australians in general could use. What reception do you think three stinking, half cammed up and splattered with blood blokes would get at a servo in Australia in a city late at night.Bet it wouldn’t be