We’d been walking for about five hours and had just stopped for a water break. The property we were on had some really steep, well-forested hills that were getting the better of us.
The evening before, the four of us had quickly set up camp as soon as we arrived. I hadn’t been on a trip in a while and was super keen so I had headed off for an evening hunt straight after setting up, knowing full well that daylight and time were against me.
A tiny flicker of possibility was more than good enough for me.
I returned empty handed, but had been rewarded with glorious views of the lush green hills. Upon returning I was greeted by the smell of bacon and potatoes roasting over the camp fire.
It seemed my companions hadn’t held out much hope of me bringing dinner that night, which was fair enough. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner and were beginning to settle in with cold beer in our hands. My partner Ruchi soon said needed more wood. We were all quite prepared for the cold but the temperature was already at 2C, and could drop below zero in a few hours. I got up, grabbed my flashlight and set off to find more firewood with Ruchi’s brother Ruben.
We were on our way back to the campsite, and save for the lights on our heads the night was pitch black. Suddenly Ruben said: “What the hell is that?” He was pointing to the ground straight in front of me. I looked down and shone my light closer to the object he was pointing at. It was a tiny baby hare, all dark brown and furry and huddled underneath foliage for shelter against the cold. Before I could form my next thought, Ruben had run back to camp and got the girls. Ruchi came running over asking to see the ‘bunny’ and immediately crouched down to scoop it up in her arms. I began to tell her that it would just run off before she got the chance, but the hare stayed in place and the girls held it for some time before letting it run free again. Even though nothing major had happened, we all went to bed feeling like we were already on an adventure. I was getting up at the crack of dawn the next day, and sleep came to me before I knew it.
The next morning Rhea and I geared up against the cold, made sure my Berserker Evolve bow was set up properly, grabbed plenty of water and headed off bowhunting for boar and fallow deer. I am the type of hunter who likes to cover great distances and get in the thick of the action wherever possible. I find I don’t have the patience to sit and wait in one place for hours in the hope that something will happen, even though I respect hunters who do. I like to make it happen. It was a good day for my kind of bow hunting. Though it was still winter, the Australian sun can be very strong. This day was partially cloudy and at times it looked as if it would rain on us. Fortunately it did not.
My aim was to get either a boar or the elusive fallow deer. The property had a healthy population of fallow deer, and on a previous trip I’d had the good fortune of successfully hunting one. That trip was a few months prior to this one and my freezer was still full of the venison I’d got while on the property. Extremely agile, always on alert and with incredible senses of smell, hear-ing and sight, fallow deer are hard animals to hunt. They will communicate any threat or danger to other deer in the vicinity, alerting them of a nearby hunter. Hunting other animals seems like child’s play compared to hunting one of these.
I waited patiently until the boar gave me a perfect quartering away shot opportunity. It seemed time had slowed just a tiny bit and all I could hear was my own heart beating and the faint noise of my breathing. I released my arrow. It was quickly followed by a thud and I could see it was a well placed shot. The boar only made it about 40m before he rolled over and expired. I had hit him exactly where I wanted, through both lungs, and he had died in well under a minute. Shot placement and patience are super important for ethical hunting. After taking a couple of photos we removed both back straps and made our way to camp. That night we grilled the marinated back straps on the fire. They weren’t bad but I usually slow cook wild pork as it can be chewy.
The next day was our last. I got out early that morning for a quick walk into the hills. I saw heaps of deer but it wasn’t my day. The closest I could get was 40m, and that is just out of my comfortable shot range. Deer are generally regarded as the hardest Australian game to hunt and I would certainly agree. Even if you are hunting in an area with an abundance of deer it can still be hard to close the gap as they are super alert. Many hunters take off their shoes and commence the rest of the stalk barefoot or with only socks on their feet.
As we left the property we said our goodbyes to the very friendly owner. He was pleased to hear there was one less boar damaging his land and that we’d had a great stay. My mind was fixed on planning the next hunting trip during the five hour drive back to Brisbane. In the next edition you will hear from Robbie Austin who has been on a bowhunting trip in Africa.