The bush goes silent, even the wind stops, as I hear the young Red crash to a halt on the bench at the bottom of the bowl.
Five arduous hours later Matt and I are back in camp celebrating with a well-earned drink.Forward 13 months and I am hunting Sambar in the Nor-east of Victoria with good mate Sol. A man with some very unique perspectives of the world and the country we live in. It is fringe country, back into the ranges and beyond, a mix of private, leased and adjacent public lands. Conditions are very wet, clouded-in with finicky light winds.This is Sol’s home range, a dedicated and thoroughly proficient hunter in every sense and aspect of hunting. He knows the country like the back of his hand. And he achieves all this with a permanently and badly injured left shoulder that leaves him with the ability to expertly fire a rifle with only his right hand and arm.
After two days of hunting and plenty of week old sign, nothing fresh is sighted. Not even a honk. The reason becomes evident with a report from one of the owners that they had surveilled poachers that evening working their way through the northern lease country with a spotlight.Day three arrived and I decided it was time to travel light to the south in steady rain.
Right from the edge of the fringe the sign was good. Once inside the bush line the only noise that could be heard was the blood pulsing in my head, the unavoidable breaking of the odd twig, boots squelching in boggy ground and gurgle of the large creek to my true left.
I zigged and zagged through the more lightly timbered creek flat, from creek edge to the base of the ridge. One set of fresh tracks kept appearing in boggy ground and then disappearing in grassy and stony ground cover. At times the mud could still be seen swirling, slowly, in the water filled hoof prints.
I knew the game was on. It was just a matter of how well I played it. The breeze was still gently pushing towards me but the slightest swirl or a call from the birds of the bush telegraph could ruin it all. I decided it was time to start moving up and under the heavier canopy closer to ridge base to lessen the oversight from birds and remain in the shadow.My spidy senses, as Sol calls them, were tingling, I was close. Honk. Was I spotted or had I been scented? Standing stock still, I knew there would be a second. Honk. I locked in on the direction, raised the rifle, there he was. The hunt was over and breaking up the carcass and carrying out the meat had begun.