hunting link

On the tops

On the tops

Winter time

Winter time
Time for doing


'Begin doing what you want to do NOW ! We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand- and melting like a snowflake'

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Echos from the past 3

? Roberts and Earl Marshall taking a breather on the main range.

...More from the diaries
The summer season did finally arrive, and the Tararuas were, where it was meant to happen.
We were taking in the view from the track that winds down from Winchcombe bivvy,up towards the Tararua Peaks......... I remember Earl saying, “if it’s all like this I’m packing it in”. Meaning those hills look bloody rugged.
They indeed were, but neither he nor I packed it in…or at least not that day.

Gary Hansen and I had spent four eventful days at the old Alpha hut. The last day before we were to head off across the main range, dawned fine but with clouds banked high across the length of Marchant ridge. It could only mean one thing, a North Westerly, and when they blow, you might as well stay indoors, ..and stay indoors, Gary and I did. But when you are keen, and it’s your first season to-boot, and the skies are still blue then you do as I did, and that was what I was getting paid to do,... hunt.
So therefore when I left the dress circle and headed for home a few hours later, with 3 redskin tails on my belt and a load of backsteaks, I was one very pleased hunter.
Although the wind had been wicked all morning, blowing first one way, then the other.
The fickilness of it, made me certainly entertain thoughts, that were far from complimentary to my mental state of health.
...... That is until I stumbled on a hind, yearling and young one, in a deep sheltered gut. With the sun glinting off the ejecting rounds,.....I laid them low with four shots.
The day before, saw me half way down Quoin ridge in the headwaters of the Eastern Hutt River. Glassing the surrounding countryside. When I spied a stag, sporting a good rack of velvet. The range was I guess around the 500 yards mark. He was on a slip, feeding and enjoying the morning sun.
Now that’s long range by anybody’s standards. It was easy to cut the distance down, due to all the depressions in the landscape between the deer and myself.
The range now was about 70 yards. But even at that short a distance, and with the .270 still reverberating around the surrounding mountainside. ….. I had that sure feeling I’d missed. No tell tale thwock, nor any other obvious sign of a hit. Just the stag making a headlong dash, to the creek bottom and out of sight.
Now the Mauser model 2000, is a fine hunting rifle, but unfortunately has no half cock arrangement, although it did have a click safety. There was no excuse for what was to follow. Although the deer didn’t show any signs of a hit I have always made it a policy of mine to follow up on every shot regardless. So it was in this vein, that saw me quietly sneaking down through the thick undergrowth on my side of the creek.
The last thing I remembered was seeing this huge rock looming up before me, .......then I was blind and on my back in one movement. The echo of the shot was fading into silence.
Finding myself in this situation instantly convinced me that I’d shot some part of my anatomy. I stayed for some minutes mentally scanning my body, and waiting for the pain to short circuit all that.
Putting the pieces together afterwards told the story. Pushing through the heavy scrub, I was holding the rifle in my right hand at arm length pointing forward. When I guess a twig or piece of branch had entered the trigger guard and set the round off. The bullet hit the rock, sending rock fragments back into my face, with enough force and shock to send me over on my back.

Winchcombe bivvy was the next venue .It was dawn and I had elected to hunt the headwaters of the Hector. Gary was to hunt the bush on the Waiohine side.
On arriving at Winchcombe the evening before, we’d spied a red stag way down in the Hector, headwaters. Too far away for a hunt in the light that was available that evening, hence the dawn approach.
This was first light, on a beautiful clear day. The sun was an hour or so away from rising so Gary and I went our separate ways. I was away through the thigh high snowgrass, back up the ridge we’d traveled the day before. My plan was to travel for 20 minutes or so, then drop down the hector side into the headwaters and make my way to roughly where we had seen the stag. Making my way down the steep dew soaked tussock in the early morning was exhilarating to say the least. The need for stealth and speed. Was of paramount importance Before the morning gets too late.
The draw back of morning shooting in summer is just that, always trying to beat the clock. But the plus, is just the sheer excitement of the new day and what might lay ahead.
Within about 100 yards of the valley floor, I spied a movement around 300 yards. Bino’s up, sure enough deer A stag in fact, was it the same one?sure looked like it.
He was Reaching high into the tree, to feed, the sun just starting to bathe the valley floor with it’s warming rays, bringing to life the soaking tussock stems, festooning them with sparkling diamonds.
I vaguely took in the rich tapestry that the elements were providing for me.
I was quickly planning my stalk, the hardest part being the initial 100 yards, which was very exposed. Fortunately the stag was quartering away from my position and also my side of the valley was still in deep shadow, so making use of every advantage the contour would afford me, I skipped forward soon covering the first leg of my journey.
There was a couple of dry creek beds and some stunted trees and assorted scrub between us.Easing out of the last one I estimated mentally that I should be in a very comfortable shooting position [range wise]. I edged my head over the lip, and the stag was still there, full bodied ,grey velvet head thrown back occasionally balancing on hind legs and thrusting himself upward in search of the more palatable pickings. He was indeed a fine sight, standing there, belly deep in tussock, deep red coat contrasting with the vivid green of his dinner table.
I almost missed the hind on my side of the Hector stream. It might have been embarrassing. So intent on the stag was I, that I had completely missed her.
Her cream rump patch led me through her right front shoulder, crosshairs wavered then settled, bang...thump....’ she was down.
The stag’s rump was disappearing out of sight I, was up and chasing after him as soon as I’d recovered from the recoil. Splashing across the Hector, grabbing fistfuls of tussock on the other side, heaving myself up just in time to see the big fella, being swallowed up by the stand of bush. I dashed along the flat, veered left, and climbed swiftly to a grassy knoll, overlooking an almost circular patch of bush about the size of a tennis court, completely isolated in the tussock landscape.
Unless he’d sneaked out the other side whilst I was climbing the knoll, I would have him trapped, [at the narrowest point he would only have had to make about 20 yards to reach the main body of bush]. A branch snapped in the middle of the patch, and I relaxed a little, I wasn’t going in, he would have to come out, I was holding all the cards. After much hollering and shouting and lobbing stones, he emerged. Cautiously stepping out at the further most point, 10 big points of velvet. A head, neck, then the whole body looking over his shoulder at me all the while.
The sun was well up at this time and the whole valley floor was bathed in luxurious sunshine. He had reached past the last line of stunted leatherwood, when the .270 spoke.
I tailed both animals, took two sets of backsteaks, and started the long hot climb out of the Hector. It was maybe a half hour later and my rifle was slung over my shoulder when a hind, who was obviously hiding up until then. Lost her nerve and bolted downhill on an opposite spur to me. It seemed an eternity
until that Mauser was settled into my shoulder and my first shot kicked up rocks behind. Ejecting the empty case, and sending the glinting brass out and to the right of me. I quickly sought the hind again in the 4x Pecar scope. This time leading even more ahead of her I touched off another 130-grain emissary. A solid thump, a couple of cart wheels and she was rolling against a rock in a cloud of dust, mortally hit.
We had a good couple of days at Winchcombe, the weather was good and the hunting was likewise.

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view from "Riverstone Cabin"

view from "Riverstone Cabin"
Hope River