My idea of shooting milk bottles in trees in lieu of elephantine targets worked well. Six from six off hand, from 25 to 50 yards. I put another three rounds into a stump at 50 yards and they were within 3"of each other and close enough to "smack-on" that I was happy. I didn't want to do too much shooting; less is more I say!
That night I found myself alone around the fire and all I could hear was foxes barking in the gullies around me. While not a trendy dish, the bastardised apricot chicken I assembled in the camp oven bubbled away over hot coals for a couple of hours - chicken, onions, apricots, a tin ofapricot nectar, a generous shake of nutmeg and some stock - well seasoned with a fluffy cous cous... a perfect feed on a night when my water bottles would freeze solid by dawn. I knocked down dinner and got ready for a night of lamping.
I hooked up the Lightforce 240 to the permanent control in the cab of my Hilux and rigged up the amplifier to the TOA megaphone mounted on the bullbar. By 3:00am I had played my foxy tunes across every paddock but none of those foxes would be enticed within range of the rimfire; should've brought the Swift.
So I packed up my gear, locked the front gate and hitthe Castlereagh Highway up to Mudgee. Just outside of town and past the coalmineson Ulan Road I pulled over for a nap. An hour of shuteye had me raring to go forthe last stretch of bitumen, and then onto the dirt and the 10,000-acre I'd behunting for the next few days.
For the next 6 hours I stalked the northern slopes ofthe main valley that cuts east-west along the property. Fallow were scatteredall through the timbered gullies; a few big old does but mostly recently weaneddeer, independent but not too bright. I snuck up on goats on the escarpment;these made the weaned fallow looked smart, so the only shots I took were withthe Canon DSLR.
Coming down from the escarpment I got caught up in atangle of scrub and blackberry and chose to use the pig tunnels to slide downthe muddy slope to more open country. It was messy and slow and painful but Igot out alive. No pigs. I headed north up a feeder gully and pig sign waseverywhere; fresh droppings, turned clods of fluffy dirt with fresh weeds intact and turgid, and sharp tracks from earlier that morning.
200 yards up the gully I spied a pair of golden ears in the thick tangle to my left. The 150 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip made short work of the medium sized sow...
I had a spot of lunch - bread, boiled eggs, sheepcheese and tomatoes - before stalking another heavily timbered gully were Ionly found deer; nice, but not what I was looking for today. I hunted till darkand headed back to the house for a well-earned shower and a great dinner withSam and his family.
Dawn on Saturday was bitterly cold when Sam and Iheaded up to a high plateau in search of pigs. The wind was terrible but we didfind pigs in a few quiet spots. I missed a shot at a boar that sprinted up theother side of a gully. In a small hollow we came across a sounder of hogsfeeding quietly. Taking a rest on a fallen tree, I dropped the biggest pig inthe group, a black boar. As the mob ran forward, quartering towards us, Imissed the next shot but knocked over the next biggest boar with my third shot.
We walked a fair way before we came out of a scrubbygully and a spotted boar feeding out in the open caught our eye; the wind wasblowing hard from the pig to us so we walked straight at him. I fired at thepig from 15 yards and seemingly unharmed, he bolted into the gully andvanished. No blood, no sign of a hit, but Sam heard the impact of the bullet.We followed up as best we could with no result. I suggested we head back towhere I took the shot so we headed up the hill and started again. Sam calledfor me to come over and there he was, a thickset boar lying dead on his side bythe fast moving creek. It was great to have found him down and out; I'dbeen feeling terrible about losing a wounded animal. The shot was spot on;the boar just had a lot of ticker!
Not much further along we spotted a couple of sows inthe distance. I left my rifle and daypack with Sam and headed towards the pigswith camera in hand. The last 30 yards were done on hands and knees and I gotwithin 10 yards before they heard the shutter and headed off. The rest of theday was spent helping out in the garden around the house. A quiet dinner, a fewdrinks, a good night's sleep and back to Sydney.
Sam from VPC Hunting lines up for another photograph of the best boar of the trip.
This was my second visit to Sam's place this year.