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, May 19, 2009

Decisions !

“Let’s get out of here” I silently screamed as the forecast predicted a four day fine spell. Mmm, well, err, yeah ok, I muttered as I poured over the map. An hour later my destination was resolved. It was a brave decision. A phone call to the local DOC office and the good oil on my eta to my hut was in effect a full day’s travel . That left me with two days hunting and a full day travel out.
According to DOC, the track had not been maintained for awhile, and what, with last years snow damage and all, it just might turn into an eventful trip.
I was ruthless with my pack, but still had to include my bivvy bag and sleeping mat, in case I didn’t make the hut, in the time allotted.
I was motoring along the gravel road, no more than 300 yards from my main gates when, without any warning, I was confronted with a white apparition. It stood gawking at me as I rounded the bend. Too big for a goat, was my first impression. Ye gods, I exclaimed it’s a deer. It then performed a graceful 180 and bounded down the road in front of me. My stubby barrelled Sako was propped up in the passenger footwell and two spare rounds of .308 cal. were slotted in my chest pocket. I made no move to grab either. I narrowed the gap between us to twenty yards and sat on his tail. He jumped a few imaginary fences as he bored along. It gave me plenty of time to properly assess this gift from the gods. He was a fallow and judging by the small protrusions on his head, was a spiker. He was pure white, and as I followed him down the road, I wondered at his longevity. Not even into his teens, I mused, if he carries on like this. He was lean and fit, and seemed to find no effort in pacing the Nissan down the gravel road. There was plenty of opportunity for him to jump sideways at anytime and be gone. Maybe he was training for some Olympic event, who knows. This course of events continued for around two to three clicks before he decided enough was enough and swerved to the right, taking a low strung fence in his stride. The last I saw of him was of his mouth agape, keeping abreast of the car and swerving amongst some pines and at last on a route away from the roadside.
The things you see, I thought to myself. Here am I planning to take myself off on a four day hunt, covering untold miles of wilderness in the search of a deer or chamois. I have just snubbed up the chance of taking the most, tender of meats, all on my doorstep.... Alfie!.....what’s it all about? ....But I made the decision.
I thought a lot about that deer in the days that followed [fallowed].
The stream was gentle, in regard of its contours, but long. The crossings were numerous, the orange triangles less so. I called a halt at one p.m. and took a lunch break. I picked a sunny, tree dappled spot on the true right of the stream. I saw my opportunity in the form of a windfall for a cosy seat. I then took out of my pack and ate the best part of a pork roast, some bread and two freshly picked apples. The sound of the stream toiling its way seawards was all the company I needed.
The inner man had stopped grumbling so the pack was hoisted and the trail was again engaged. A couple of hours travel and I was at the base of the long climb to the tops, glimpses of which I would at times, tantalisingly see. I bent my body into the hill and toiled ever upwards. I think it was Keith Severinson who described the quest for height the best....putting one foot in front of the other as often as you can. The words bounced off the walls of my mind throughout the climb.
Eventually the bush gave way to scrub and tussock and visibility was extended to kilometres instead of metres. There now stretched in front of me a long and steep tussock clad ridge, dotted occasionally with waratah posts. A half hour later saw me complete a loop and reverse back into a stream filled gulley with a large tarn and the hut situated on its western shores.
I took off my soaked through boots and socks with some relief and viewed the wrinkled albino feet and curled toes with some sympathy. The now steaming mini kettle atop my stove completed the highlights of the day.
The insides of the hut were chilled. It was with little regret that I stepped out onto the frost carpeted ground the next morning. The air was still and the last of the stars twinkled valiantly. There was a yellow band of light that was ever expanding atop the distant eastern mountains. The shroud of night had already fallen. The new day was gaining muscle.
I made lengthy strides in order to warm the body and also gain altitude quickly. There was no particular plan for this day other than to have a good look around this new piece of country.
I suppose 20 minutes had passed when I spied the animal silhouetted against the now blue backdrop of sky. He was on a sharp ridge that was running in a westerly direction. I froze in mid step and we eyeballed each other for an eternity, which was in fact a couple of minutes. He seemed to turn his head a fraction. That was my cue to sink slowly to the ground and be out of sight. I took my pack off and rummaged inside. With Binos now in hand I slowly raised myself and focussed on the chamois. The range I estimated at close on 3oo yds. The Leica’s image confirmed a young animal. His hooks were around even in height with his ears.
Camp meat was the decision. The one serve dehys could do with a supplement.
I contoured further and used a long depression for concealment to close the distance between us. Just ahead was a rise. I carefully raised my head over the top. There were now two shammy on the thin bladed ridge. The range now was around 130 yds. They were both looking my way, and one of them appeared to stamp his foot. I slipped back and again took off my backpack, this time for a support for my rifle. I eased back to the top of the rise, pushing my pack in front of me.
The short barrel was pointing behind the left shoulder of the near side on shammy. The duplex reticule was cast in stone. Kaboomph...there was a definite flinch and the left leg lifted momentarily off the ground. They both dropped off the ridge...but on my side !! They closed the gap between us, although slightly higher and running across my front. The first sham slowed, but looked comfortable. So I again engaged with the Sako. The 4x scope found its mark and another 150 grainer sailed away. He took off again. Meanwhile sham 2 stood stock still. I carefully arranged my Lapua spent cases in front of me, then chambered another round. Kaboomph...his knees buckled and he hit the ground hard sliding down out of my immediate vision.
Redirecting my sights to sham 1, I saw him try to negotiate a spur, when suddenly and without warning he slumped to the ground, and slid out of sight behind some rocks. I took all the meat I needed and stashed it for my return.
Upon reaching the ridge where I initially saw the two animals, I looked further upwards and spied a third. He was standing proud on a rock outcrop around the 200 yard mark. I watched the animal for sometime, also capturing his image on film. Eventually, though, he dropped over the other side and was lost to view.
Higher up the ridge we crossed paths again before finally, and not before time, he lit out for pastures new. The rest of the day was spent sightseeing on the high tops before returning back for the meat and eventually back to the hut. That night, with half a dozen pieces of back steak cut a half inch thick sizzling in my pan, life was good.
The next morning I was labouring up a sheer face, by way of a diagonal fault line that I had observed through Leica the day previous. According to my map it would eventually see me on the main ridge heading south. Somewhat short of that ridge, daylight proper caught up with me. I can best describe it as when you switch on an energy saving bulb, and you have light, though it takes some minutes later for that light to intensify. So it was that, without feeling the sun on me, my next stride took me into that brilliant light.
A bit further on I breached a saddle and was able to look into a different watershed. I was now on the ridge proper. I was looking toward the headwaters of a creek. It was a sight that sent a slight shiver through my body. It was much darker down there, the sun would be a good few hours longer climbing in the sky before it chased away the heavy frost that lingered in that valley.
Just then a stag moaned, his anguished utterance resonated off the bluffs far below and reached my ears, high up to where I lay in the alpine meadows. He moaned continuously for ten to fifteen minutes. A decision was needed, either to pick my way downwards in search of the wily stag, or to continue my way southwards to the inviting basin shown on the map. I elected to keep my altitude and wander southwards. Although nothing in the way of animals was sighted on my sojourn, the day was enjoyed nonetheless.
I think the hunter is at his best when he reacts instinctively and decisions are made, without really being decisions.

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view from "Riverstone Cabin"

view from "Riverstone Cabin"
Hope River