Friday, 6 April 2012

Hunting the 2012 rut

Just back from a marathon hunt in the ranges bordering the Liverpool Plains of central New South Wales, an easy five hour drive from my home in Sydney. Having gained access to 10,000 acres of cattle country, I was very much looking forward to what promised to be some exciting hunting with a number of species roaming this block; wild and free and low-fenced. I was primarily hunting fallow deer but was really open to anything. In terms of game, the place turned out to be a hunter's wonderland!

Glassing and stalking I reckon I saw 150-odd fallow with at least eight shootable bucks amongst them. I caught two stags battling it out in the creek - a black and a menil. I spent some time watching from 40 yards until the black buck limped off and the thick-necked menil strutted about in front of me, racing along the banks of the creek, troating away; it was quite a show and a very exciting few minutes. Meanwhile, I sat there considering whether this was the stag I was looking for. Boom!
Decision made.

On another hunt, the cocky and I headed up into the hills and sat near a rutting stand with the bushes and saplings around it thrashed to bits...

We started rattling and on the third set a monster menil appeared on the opposite ridge in a small clearing.

He headed uphill into the timber and we were left wondering what would happen next. With my rifle at the ready it was about five minutes before the stag came racing up the steep face from below our position; he'd dashed into the scrub and doubled back to approach us from the other side! 

At 30 yards, moving fairly quickly with his thick neck bobbing up and down, I hit him in the chest and as he lunged forward I shot the buck a second time.  An awesome stag and a brilliant hunt!

I caught one monster red stag out on a scrubby face but at 560 yards on the final morning of the hunt; I pursued him with no results, he'd just vanished. Also spent a bit of time chasing chital and about 40 animals were seen. Most of the stags had cast so no joy there. I did get to within 100 yards of a 22" stag with six does in tow but he had way too much growing to do. Had I wanted a chital doe, I could have shot any number of them.

Feral goats were everywhere. With all the deer about they didn't really inspire me on this trip but I did note seeing them on every steep face I glassed. I had a few very close encounters when stalking the tops but just left them to watch the stalking Dagga!!


Pigs, pigs, pigs! Conservatively I would have seen 200 hogs as I stalked the mountains and gullies. Red ones, black ones, white ones, spotted ones and mixtures of these were everywhere. In most encounters, sounders were made up of a few sows, a juvenile boar or two and a load of suckers.

I shot one 90kg boar on the plain in a cropping paddock after a long stalk from about 60 yards offhand. 

Bumped a wallowing mob on a high plateau and collected a 100kg boar with broken tusks on the trot at 120 yards.  An 80kg boar broke away from the mob and veered hard to my left; the .300 rolled him at 200 yards. 

The final boar I shot was camped in a scrubby gully in deep mud. He made a break from 20 yards but didn't stand a chance as snap shot from spitting distance is my favourite shot! Unfortunately he had one tusk broken off at the gum - no ivory on this hunt!

On this trip, my .300 Weatherby Magnum was the only rifle I used.  Load details were noted in my previous post and as always, this round proved to be very effective; rifle was a Weatherby Vanguard Sub-MOA topped with a Leupold VX-L 4.5-14 x 56mm.

If anyone is interested in hunting this block, the owners are opening hunting for a very limited number of trophy hunters each year - bow or rifle hunting. Hunting will be guided and opportunity for success looks great to me, but nothing guaranteed as this hunt is not behind wire; 100% wild and free.

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