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'

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Broken Horn

The stars twinkled overhead in the frosty morning, as I pressed the latch home and locked my main gates. The heater in the Nissan was on full and the blower was blasting out air, but I was yet to feel the benefits. It would take a few klicks more before the heater was working to its full potential. The weather window was good, at least three of four days of a high system hovered over the South Island.
Exactly ten minutes later a quick glance in my rear view mirror confirmed that the Senator silver shark was still affixed to my toe ball, as I pulled off the gravel road and joined up with S.H.6. The further thirty minutes of travel was uneventful.

Not far out of St. Arnaud, I noticed with some concern the manuka at the side of the road was swaying with some violence, and it was with some apprehension that I drove down the remaining stretch into Kerr Bay. The wind was howling and waves were crashing onto the pier with regular monotony. The ducks too had unanimously and unashamedly decided that the wooden jetty was the place to huddle en-masse, and there must have been at least twenty there wing to wing. I was stunned to say the least, and just sat in the car hoping things wouldn’t look as bad when the light strengthened.

I swamped the boat on the first attempt at launching, then retired to sulk in the car for a couple of hours in the hope that the wind would abate. Nothing doing and the morning was getting on. Attempt no. 2! I backed down the concrete ramp, as soon as the boat began to float I ripped out of the driving seat and hared over to the boat and pushed until it cleared the trailer. By this time the boat had taken a good few waves stern on and there was a good six inches of ballast. I grabbed the long rope and ran down the jetty turning the boat to face the oncoming tsunamis. I made a few half hitches on the nearest post and rifled back to the car to park it up. Just coming to a halt, I looked to see the boat been hurled onto the concrete ramp. The rope had broken! Racing back to the boat with heavy pack and rifle, I dropped them both on the jetty. With each successive wave, and by pulling on the remaining rope, I was able to inch the boat back into deeper water. Securing it once again I proceeded to load it up. I gunned the motor, unhitched from the post, and was as good as launched. Christ I thought what a start. Just then the motor died and the boat immediately swung around. Straight away it began ingesting huge quantities of wave material i.e., water. My eyes glazed as I frantically sought to find out what had caused the motor to cut out so suddenly. The jetty was looming menacingly nearer. Then I noticed the fuel line had come adrift. JESUS!! I almost parted company with the craft, in my haste to reach the parted umbilical cord, as a wave crashed into the boat as I was midships.

.I finally gunned the motor and was once again heading into the maelstrom. Sudden gusts would render the steering useless and I slew across the lake. Eventually I reached the sanctuary of the Mt Robert shoreline, from there I hugged the coast on the remaining leg of my journey.

Pulling into the Coldwater hut on the glass like surface of the water, it did cross my mind to wonder if this was still all part of the same day. I faced the boat in the direction of travel for the return leg and moored it securely. I then slipped my arms into the straps of my pack and heaved it onto my shoulders. I Picked up Mr. Forester and filled his belly with .308 cal. Rounds, slipped the bolt over the topmost round and left the bolt in the half cock position. The way ahead would be easy, I mused as I entered into the bush. It was around midday.
My spirits began to soar at the prospect of a few days hunting, new country to explore and seemingly I was not going to share it with anyone…hows that for selfishness?
I was at my destination in the late afternoon and it was with some relief that I shrugged off my bondage that was my pack, and threw my rifle on the top bunk. I never tire of the delight of reaching a hut and brewing up with a biscuit and evaluating the hut book entries. Soon however, and with evening shadows lengthening it was time to look around for some firewood, there was a ton of branches and assorted twigs in the wood box, but it would take some axe work to maintain the fire once alight. Lying in my bag later that night, the fire embers glowing, and casting their eerie shadows around the hut, my mind “time travelled” back over the years at warp speed and conjured up a collage of like memories, of huts and campfires up and down the country. Different faces of dogs and humans alike, clamoured for recognition and status. It was amidst these visions that I snubbed out the candle, and then tugged the sleeping bag tightly around my neck and closed my eyes.

Climbing high in direct competition with the early morning sun (I hoped it was breathing at least half as hard) I casually glanced at my pathfinder watch and realised I had put an hour of travel behind me since leaving the hut. Looking over my shoulder down to the creek, from which was the start of my vertical stress, I noted it still in deep shadow, and also seemingly miles below. I took a rest and again scoured the creases and folds of the undulating hill above me. The little Leica 8x20’s gaining more and more definition as the day wore on. Satisfied, I again bent my shoulders into the hill and pumped ole shanks.

It was perhaps no more than twenty minutes later when the chamois buck lifted his head in front of me. Our eyes locked for the briefest of nano seconds, before he decided “you can overdo confirmation!” He was up and away from his lying up position and cresting the ridge behind him before I could close the bolt of my Sako Forester. Shit! Breathing raggedly and without an overdose of too much optimism, I eventually reached the ridge, a very poor second. I did a double take, because the animal was still there and only fifty yards further on, completely bluffed in some particularly nasty sheer rock faces.
It was at this point that he should have put his hands up and then taken into custody.
The rifle recoiled against my shoulder and at the shot the chamois buck sailed spectacularly out into the void and away from the dizzying heights out of view. It was quite a few seconds later that my ears picked up the fact that he had indeed landed. It was quite a scramble, to get down to where the beast lay half buried in scree. It was also hugely disappointing to discover that one of his hooks had splintered and broken off; his skin too was much the worse for wear. I removed the back steaks and rued the decision I made in pulling the trigger.
I sat some time on that scree in deep contemplation. The thoughts ranged through hunting and life in general. The sheer magnificence of my surroundings was not lost on me either. It was though, the ever increasing warmth of the suns rays that eventually broke the reverie. Urging the hunter on, before the day got too much older.

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view from "Riverstone Cabin"

view from "Riverstone Cabin"
Hope River