More from the diary........
The incidents occured consecetively over the three days, and were very similar,which proved to me that the sika stag during the rut ,is a totaly different animal to the rest of the year.......more prepared to fight than run. This particular day, on closing the hut door, to heavy overcast weather, gun metal Grey sky, with more than a threat of the vertical moisture. Windy too, picking up all the time, and cool enough to be wearing the ole swanny all day. Which is a sure indication winter is round the corner, and the easy days are behind you. Anyway, the dog and me decided [telepathically] that we would be better off down East creek. Way down, out of this swirly wind. Anyway creeping along, Indian like [and that was only the dog], for there was fresh sign a plenty. Deep down into east creek,we were now out of the worse of the wind, here there was a gentle breeze, blowing the right way,which was in your face!! Although looking skywards the clouds were fair scudding along. We were following not too far behind a sika stag. Then the unmistakable stench of deer, like a wall of smells you physically had to push yourself through. Toby warned me with his eyes, as we eased ourselves out of a small, only trickling creek “Watch those big size 9’s boss” he screamed, in the noiseless-pollution. I warned him back just as noisilessly. Barely moving, side by side we eased into an open corridor in the bush. And there, standing at the end of it stood our stag. No more 20 yds separated us. He was looking me right in the eye; I would have had a bowel movement if I’d thought him similarly armed. I eased the sako up slowly but fluently expecting him to take a hike any second, the crosshairs found his head. Christ am I really going for a head-shot? Why not it’s filling the scope pressure on the trigger, ....click.!!! Still looking at the deer in the scope, my mind racing,....... and a misfire? I don’t believe it . I don’t believe that the stag is still there looking at me. Trying to be as fluent as possible, expecting the deer to move anytime. I managed to reacquaint myself with his image, once again. Ejecting the offending round and chambering another, again the trigger squeeze. A little more emotional pressure was experienced this time. I was rewarded with a Boompha. The dog the deer and myself didn’t move a muscle, the report still ringing in my ears.! I worked the bolt, levered in a fresh round, and put the rifle back to my shoulder. That’s when he took off Breaking branches just crashing headlong through the scrub. The dog gives me a withering look,....... I don’t remember reading that in the script he muttered. I was understandably shaken. You do not miss from that range. I could still hear the stag clattering away, albeit further with every stride . It must have been pure frustration cos...... I sent the nasty one after him, with a ‘GET HIM’. Toby vaporized he just didn’t go, he simply didn’t exist for me. That dog didn’t usually have to be told to go chase deer. So when he actually heard the words, well let’s just say he never said what? Pardon? Say again? I was mentally thrashing myself with the biggest branch I could find, when I heard the barking. Quite loud, which sounded very much like a bail. I jerked myself into the present and steamed off down hill in the direction of that wonderful barking. Under and over logjams, tearing through bush lawyer and the like, in and out of creeks. The barking would often stop and start again further away, so I would go as fast as I could toward the noise stop then listen then go again. Eventually breathless and battered, I arrived at the river. The barking was deafening in the confined space. Looking downstream I was rewarded with a wonderful action scene. The stag, head down was charging Toby, in the middle of the stream. Toby was half swimming the water was splashing everywhere the sako was up in a blur. Too fast cos the .222 round found the space between deer and dog. A geyser of water leapt upwards between the animals. They neither batted an eyelid, although I suspect the dog’s thoughts on my marksmanship are unprintable. Finally the next time I drew a bead, marked the end for the stag. I reached them; the stag half-immersed in the river slowly drifting downstream, with Toby hanging off its rear end. I just had to examine the head for my own piece of mind, sure enough a hole straight through both its cheeks.
Day two, again I give rein to the dogs natural instinct to chase , though more this time ,to curiosity rather than frustration.
The weather pattern was much the same, as was the locality of our hunting, and again I had the box seat to the action.
On a face across the stream.I watched as the stag flat out sped across. Half a dog length behind was the mutt. The range was around the 80 yd mark ,I was leading plenty ,and at neck height .Twice I sent smoking empty .222 brass cartwheeling towards the bush floor,it made little difference to the action in front ,jacking in a fresh round ,the stag turned sharply and executed a 90‘ turn,and galloped straight toward me ,across the stream ,and disappeared under the bank I was standing on,that’s when the real commotion started ,scuffling of foliage ,breaking of branches, and of course barking ,it only took a few steps to peer over the bank to witness the scene,similar to yesterday ,but close this time so close I could just reach out ,the speed of the stags thrusts were impressive from where I stood ,i’m sure the dog was equally impressed,whilst the antlers where in his face the dog had no choice but to retreat,but the minute the deer raised his head for a look ,Toby regained a little ground, with one hand I reached out ,and the sako ,with it’s abbreviated barrel,was an inch or so from the heaving neck of the deer , a beckoning motion of the index finger,against the canjar trigger,boompha ,and all was quiet yet again in bush city.
I was in a different watershed all together ,for the final of this triology,the deer scattered in all directions,a stag and four hinds,to everypoint of the compass, that jacksy ripping wind again, don’t you just love it ?
Blurred grey bodies and laughing white tails, Go get him! I said to canine ,i think I managed ...g in go and I was on my own!
At the time I was at the head of a couple of different creeks, and after waiting around ten minutes , with fairly blustery wind howling ,the ears start to play tricks on you.Is that barking ,very faintly ,no can’t be ,try walking along a bit ,have a listen in different location, wait for the wind to die down a bit, listen again ,oh hell maybe ,i was beginning to wish I hadn’t encouraged ,the dog to do his favourite..... chase.. them round the galaxy job. I finally made a decision to head down a spur fifty or so meters, then sidle slowly along ,and zig-zag ,that type of pattern until ,......
Are the ears playing tricks on me ? Was that a bark ,the wind was now scuffling leaves along the bush floor,and rustling the branches overhead,mouth open now [supposed to inprove hearing!],i move further towards the sounds ,yes a definate bark,quicker now .i pick up speed ,,the barking gets louder,obviously a bail . I pull out allthe stops and run down hill throwing caution to the wind.And I stumble right in to the action.
The stag is imprisoned , his antlers are caught up in bush lawyer ,and he is frantic ,he is kicking out in all directions ,the dog going in where he can.Upon seeing me the stag makes an almighty lunge ,and frees himself enough to rear up on his hind legs ,towering above me front hooves flailing at the air,although still caught up in the lawyer, and supplejack.
I level the .222 from the hip and direct my fire toward the chest region ,boompha ,he convulses and falls sideways ,it’s over.
.....Those three days educated me in ,the fiery nature of the sika stag, and how in the roar at least , he is prepared to stand his ground and fight ,rather than other times in the year where perhaps descretion would have been the better part of valour rule. ...He would have been long gone.