Finally found time to post up another long-range hunting trip, this time to a remote area in the Kaweka mountains in the North Island. The boys and I do a trip in here every year at the end of their summer school holidays. In this area there are too many sika deer for the habitat and a government body called the Department of Conservation (or DoC for short) fly around in a helicopter shooting them and leaving them to rot. When we go into this area, we try and shoot as many hinds (does) as we can and recover all the meat. We don't shoot stags this time of year as they are still in soft velvet and shooting hinds is a more effective way of controlling the population. Unfortunately, DoC shoots everything they see, stags and all!
This area is covered in dense beech forest but there are little clearings here and there and this is where the best feed is. Over the years we have found some good lookouts that give us a helicopter's eye view into these areas, but the range is always long.
This year we had along Jamie's new 7mm Fatso, Willie's 25/284 and a couple of my 7mm/404's, a light one and a heavier one.
The weather was generally fairly kind to us with not too much wind but some rain and low cloud which made visibility difficult at times. We had one frustrating day when the cloud kept coming and going giving you tantalising glimpses of deer and then obscuring them before you could fire a shot.
Jamie topped his previous best with the 7mm Fatso shooting 162gn A-Max’s, with deer at 706, 760 and 800 yards. The longest and only shot I fired for the trip was at 1001 yards with the 180 grain Berger in the 7mm/404 and I was pleased to hit right where I aimed, right in the crease. The dog tracked her for about 15 yards before finding her dead.
The 25/284 accounted for the most deer as usual, ranging from 490 out to 615 yards. This little rifle shooting the 115 grain Berger never fails to amaze me just how capable it is.
After five days of hunting, we flew out by helicopter with enough venison to fill a medium-sized freezer, and a very good time was had by all!
Sunset on the main Kaweka range
The DoC search and destroy helicopter, shooting deer around us. At least the deer we shot weren’t wasted!
Jamie lined up with the 7mm Fatso at 760 yards
The only time I got behind a rifle on the trip, one shot at 1001 yards, right on the money
The 25/284 in action at 560 yards
And the result, Willie with two for two shots
A sika encountered while dropping down to recover Willie's deer but we had no gun, only a camera, and only 15 yards away!
Willie's mate Tom with his personal best, 748 yards and was he pleased!
The new record for the 7mm Fatso, Jamie at 800 yards on a day when the cloud came and went.