Sunday, 16 February 2014

Getting back into it

My eyes are stinging as the salty sweat pours in. It’s hot. Really, really hot. 43°C kind-of-hot. My morning hunt started before first light peeped over the horizon and I had expected to be done well before lunch. The only relief from the intense heat is the cold shower in the shearer’s quarters; as I tap away I stand under the running shower every five minutes or so. It could be worse, but it could be a whole lot better.

It seemed the goddess of hunting was looking over me all morning and game was plentiful everywhere I went. It was 3:00pm by the time I got back to the shed for lunch; totally parched having finished the last of the water I was carrying a couple of hours earlier. Like I said, I hadn’t expected my morning hunt to run so late into the afternoon.

Everything was set the night before – the .300 Weatherby was good to go, a couple of boxes of ammo at hand, binos, knives, water, my pack – all ready to go.  I was hunting pretty light to cover the ground without too much effort.

The 3.0L turbo diesel held the Toyota back as it inched down the steep slope toward the pasture at the northern end of the property. It was swine-o’clock and I was pretty keen to get amongst a few pigs.

On the flat I spied a sounder of nine heading for the scrub. They had not spotted me but I didn’t have much chance of catching up to them.  I headed straight for them and was thinking of cracking off a shot when another four pigs caught my attention – all bigger bodied and feeding slowly in the same direction as the others.

I jumped into a deep wash-away and raced towards a big tree I’d put between us.  I was 60 yards away when I ran out of cover and while the range was a non-issue, there wasn’t going to be a lot of time for follow-up shots given the lay of the land.

With the scope dialed down to 4.5x I lined up the bigger of the two boars and he dropped to the shot with a bullet through the spine, high in the shoulder.  The other three pigs ran hard to my right and I had a split second to get a shot off at the largest pig in the mob – a sow.  She cartwheeled as the Weatherby's boom rolled across the flat... then all was quiet.

I headed up into the high country in search of goats late in the morning.  Goats were everywhere, big mobs on every hillside, in every gully. I shot a few meat animals up on the plateau where it wasn’t tough going to get the carcasses back to the Toyota.

Shortly after I glassed a really big mob – close on a hundred goats at a ground tank way out in the open. The drought has hit this country hard and the feral goats could be found wherever there was a drop of water. There were a couple of respectable billies in the mob; certainly worth following up.

They were a fair way out in open country and spotted me before I had time to make a plan.  As they angled towards some rough country I ran with them to see if I could intercept the mob before they dropped into the steep gully system at the end of the paddock.

My plan worked perfectly and I was in thick timber as they came through a fence and filed along a wide game trail into the scrub.  They slowed and started feeding so I stayed high and walked with them to see if I could spot the billies I had seen earlier. As the goats moved through the bush I sat down and settled the cross hairs of the big Leupold on a clearing some 150 yards away. The big old stinky came into my filed of view, I spotted the long curl of horn then fired, sending him tumbling down the steep incline.

He was a grand old goat, the kind of goat I enjoy spending days searching for – and he had a broken horn!  It happens.

The cocky and his family had left for the city to watch The Ashes – the 5th test played at Sydney Cricket Ground. I would be hand feeding the weaners in their absence; they were doing it tough with next to no feed available. There were also a couple of poddy calves that needed tending to and the station dogs, all kelpies needed a feed of goat every other day, skinned clean, a shoulder for the smaller bitch and a leg for the other two.

The days rolled by and the hunting was great.  Plenty of goats fell to the Weatherby while hundreds and hundreds of them dotted the property.  A few pigs fell to my long range rig including a boar I shot while staking out a wallow that had been made by a trough in the breeding bull’s paddock; I was sitting on the top platform of a grain silo for a couple of hours before he came in.

It seems a bit of quiet time was all I needed.  The weather eased off a bit and I had plenty of time with my thoughts to ponder some of the greater questions in life. There was also time to just enjoy the moment, practice being – nothing in particular – just being. I need more of this.

1 comment:

  1. Glad (and a little jealous) to see you're back in the field! Sounds like you got to burn some powder and thin the invasive stock population a bit too.