This hunt all started for me about 2 weeks ago when i took my cousin down to the fallow hunting property i hunt in NSW.
We showed up to the property a little later then i would have liked but the deer were still out feeding , I quickly spotted a stag on the flats but he looked young and only had short antlers. I thought to myself that i would still like to have a closer look as he was still over 1 km away and it was still reasonably dark.
I drove down the road to the next gate into the property and glassed a hill where only this year i have seen deer in any real numbers. Be for i even got my bino's up i could see a large black stag in amongst all the does , as i glassed over him the binos revealed long palms.
We floored it down the road got out of the car and climbed the ridge behind the stag and 30+ does. I have hunted this area an filmed enough animals along this ridge to knew which game trail they would use to walk to the bedding area so sitting with a great vantage of the escape route we waited.
That's were the best layed plans went to poo. Unknown to me the property manager was going to clean out the dam just behind the deer in the paddock and as they entered from the road with an excavator the deer bolted .
The shot that presented was an easy of hand 60m shot for most of us at a deer that was walking at a brisk pace , but for my cousin an his bout of buck fever it was not going to happen so we watched as he walked past .
That haunted me for a week all could think was "i should have shot him"
''he is 1 of the best stags you have seen there" " you could have hit him with a rock".
Well Friday morning i was back on my own and right on time as i came down the road this time it was to dark to glass the face so i stopped the car and listened . Nothing and then the beautiful sound of a big fallow stag grunting awsome the poachers didn't get him was my first thought but he sounds further down the ridge.
From the sound of his grunting and the fact that about 3 weeks prior to my first sighting of him i had found a large rutting stand just inside the trees from where he sounded now i had a good idea of his postion so i moved fast and began to climb the ridge again.
Once in position no futher then 200m away i listened to him grunt and waited.
Slowly as his harem of girls filed into the bush along the game trail near his rutting stand i videoed from above gun ready and expecting him to be last in line or at least near the back. Frustrated they all past by un-alerted to me and without the stag . I did not see or hear him again that day.
Back at the managers house and i was talking to 1 of my mates who had lived and worked either on this property or neighbours all his life but never taken a decent stag . After a short chat a plan was made to pick him up at 5am and then try and move in on this stag .
Sleeping was made hard that night as all i could hear on the hill above was the grunting of the big stag and the reply of another in the distance still i managed a few hours of shut eye.
Soon enough the alarm went off and i walked to his house and got him out of bed. We drove down the road in the dark parked the car crossed the fence and then had to cover 200m of open ground to a finger of trees that would hide our approach .
Moving slowly and glassing forward in the almost pitch black was made alittle easier with the binos but i was still paranoid about getting caught out by a doe.
We reached the trees and then cough a hind coughed off to 1 side my heart sunk i thought we were done we were still over a km away from the stag but if she ran up the hill we were in trouble.
I decided it would be foolish to move any further in this dark so we would wait till i could see just enough and then move, but for the moment i would kill just to hear him grunt again as he had been silent since the hind coughed at us.
20min passed and then a massive wash of relief ran over us as the big boy gave it a go again as the light improved "lets move".
Using the trees we made distance very quickly and were soon on the right hand edge of the finger watching the deer but with their heads down it was hard to tell who was the big boy . Then grunt grunt grunt he came out of the bracken fern shacking his head and chasing a doe i immediately turned to my mate and said "that's him"
he said " how do you know "
I said " look how bloody long he is "
He said " good point "
We both laughed.
Range finder said 170m which was great but we had a sheep fence with chicken wire covering his chest and had to wait for him to clear it .
We waited and waited and he was moving away the whole time along the fence and not offering a shot . I said to my mate that was a small rise coming up and a spiker standing on it ,he wont tolerate a spiker that close to his girls he will move off the fence range 448-447-448 so 448m it is exbal gives me 5.25 Dial and with barely any wind coming towards us at 11 o'clock i dialled .25 windage .
Behind the rifle Bruce is rock steady i ask how it all feels he says great tracking him well . The Stag turns off the fence and climbs the small rise "safety off".
Crack .......... Whack.......2 steps and then face down into the dirt. I was so excited that i was slapping Bruce on the back and he keeps asking did i get him , he just could not believe that an animal could be shot at that distance accurately.
We waited for the other deer to leave so they do not associate the shot with humans and then walked up to claim the stag. Bruce was so happy i swear he was almost in tears and he thanked me for what was 1 of the most memorable hunts in my life.
You don't always have to shoot them yourself !