Quite a hike from Sydney to Coffs Harbour but it turned out to be well worth the trip. I had no expectations from this year’s Hunting and Outdoor Show presented by SCI Down Under Chapter; I thought it would make for a fun weekend with the kids. My two little girls and I left home at dawn and made the trip up with one fuel stop at Kempsey. Slim Dusty country.
With the beach a priority on the girl’s mind, I wasn’t sure how much time I was going to get at the show without interruption. Two and three-year-old's aren’t known for long attention spans.
“Daddy, daddy, daddy, when are we going to the animal show?”
Hmmm. I thought about it for a sec…
“We are at the animal show love.”
“Yay! We’re at the animal show! We’re at the animal show!”
They held hands and jumped around in circles – the professional hunter I was talking to smiled and continued talking about tracking elephant between Victoria Falls and south of Bulawayo. I felt like a kid in a candy store!
It's great that even for our small safari hunting community - small by American and European standards - the Down Under Chapter puts together this annual show and manages to bring outfitters from Africa, the USA, New Zealand and a few of the local lads as well.
It wasn’t a huge show, but certainly worth a casual stroll for a tireless nimrod with a passion for hunting and more than a passing interest in the tools of the trade. The usual suspects were there: Game Council and the Shooter’s and Fisher’s Party both had a table. The NSW Firearms Registry had three representatives and it was good to see them mingling with some industry people and talking guns, optics and hunting! The long established Nepean Hunter’s Club also had a team up from Penrith in Sydney’s west.
There were a few highlights for me. I met Markus Michalowitz at his awesome Down Under Taxidermy display. He had both local and African game heads on display and the girls loved it! The scrubber and water buffalo were outstanding trophies and exceptional mounts. Markus and I chatted about taxidermy and I discovered that he also operates guided hunts for Red Deer in the Mary Valley. A very strong possibility for the 2013 rut!
Next door I met Bob Pretty of Trijicon. I just picked up a Reflex RX06-11 (just arrived today actually) to fit to the Remington 7600 I bought for the old man - his new pig rifle. He had a few samples mounted onto rifle stocks that hunters could shoulder and get a feel for; lovely gear. I’m thinking about whether it needs a polarising filter and Bob was kind enough to extend an invitation to his place and try his filter on the rifle and see if it works for us. Thanks Bob!
Matt Graham from Hunt Australia (formerly Bob Penfold’s outfit) spent some time discussing opportunities for deer and buffalo, but more time discussing doubles. Matt has a very nice Verney Carron in .450 Nitro Express and is looking at getting measured up for a .500 NE. A man after my own heart. Love the gun; love the chambering; but double rifle? Or elephant hunt? Double rifle? Elephant hunt? Weighing up options… Elephant hunt wins. Maybe another time then?
Tony from TSE Engineering had a great display of barrels in various profiles and a few different custom guns he’s worked on; one of the rifles he built from scratch – action and all. We discussed The Hornet Project and together we agreed that I would stick to a stainless steel barrel and probably maintain the barrel blank profile: Ø1¼” at the muzzle.
Around the corner I found the Vortex Optics table; funny as I was only looking at the Vortex Viper scopes last week and hadn’t really heard much about them before. Goran Pehar is a great guy with a lot of knowledge and some excellent hunting stories to tell. We went through the pros and cons of the 4-16x versus the 6-24x. Goran also showed me an excellent set of binoculars and with a bit of scanning out of the windows I decided that they left my Steiners for dead. Bugger.
Markus from Down Under Taxidermy joined us for a chat – turns out he and Goran hunt together – sounds like the Red Deer hunting up at the Mary Valley is well worth the investment and sharing a campfire with these guys could be a load of fun, whether we drop a stag or not.
We did an extra lap so that the girls could point and shriek at the zebra pedestal mount some more before heading off to the beach. What a wonderful place. And if you do head up to Coffs for a couple of days, be sure to visit the Ex-Servicemen’s Club and order the venison from the brasserie. Unexpectedly perfect!