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Sometimes You Get Them Easily: by Bill McLeod

20/04/2021 8:36 AM | Bob McMillan (Administrator)

Years ago, Andre offered to show me around his favourite hunting area in State Forest 90 now more commonly called Clements Mill road. No more than 10 minutes down a bulldozed track he stopped and pointed out a little knoll about 20 metres off the track where he had seen a deer last time he walked along the track. He moved off and I was about to follow him when I glanced back and saw a deer right on the little knoll. Andre was too far away for me to signal to so I took the shot. He hurried back and was very surprised to see the dead deer. We gutted it out and took it back to the car. We split up and continued hunting. He came back that night with another deer. Packed up next morning and drove back out the road. As we passed the Te Iringa carpark I saw a stag in the carpark. I said to Andre stop the car. I had to repeat myself several times. Got my rifle and one bullet and went back. I could barely believe that I had seen the deer. There it was, right in the middle of the carpark which was fortunately empty. The stag fell to the shot. Andre came back saying what are you doing. We both could scarcely believe it. Took the picture, gutted the stag, chucked it in the boot and away to Auckland.

I took Arnold, my fishing mate, in to Otanatea for a hunt. I don’t know if he had shot any deer before. When we got out of the chopper and moved into the hut I could see plenty of stag marks, prints and big droppings on the grass around the hut. I took Arnold for a look upriver. It was evident that he was not able to tackle anything strenuous in the way of a hunt. He was very tired that night and was not keen to go out the next day. I started the breakfast and he went out for a leak. He rushed back super excited. He said a huge stag had been feeding on the lush grass between the hut and the river. As he watched the stag slowly ambled its way down and across the river and into the bush. He didn’t do any more hunting on that trip, he was over the moon to have seen one that close.

Simon and I set up a tent on one of the frost flats on the northern edge of the Hanamahi clearings. I’d hunted this area back in Forest Service days but had not explored the Mangaehu Stream. Went for a big hikoi in the morning. Big mobs of nothing.  Headed back down the big ridge running along the Whakatane River. As I was coming down the steep spur toward the swing bridge my knees started trembling. This was a sure sign of fatigue. Having been there before, I knew what to do. 10 minutes rest, 10 minutes march, 10 minutes rest, 20 minutes march, repeated till I got back to camp. Simon was there, he made me a brew. He asked how far I’d got. Said I’d been over into the Pukareao. He said bullshit. I had to show him my marks on the GPS. Lying in the late sun I slowly came right. Simon told me where he’d hunted. I said I think I’ll shoot that one over there. I’d glanced up a slip across the river to see a rusa come out to graze. I made my way painfully across to where I could get a steady shot, about a hundred metres. The deer was hundreds of metres away. Very steep uphill angle. Figured out the hold and made the shot. The deer collapsed and rolled halfway down the slip. I said it was Simons job to go and get it. He called me some rude names but forded the river , climbed the steep as slip and retrieved the deer. He left it on the other side of the river. In the morning he went with Derek in the chopper to pick up the carcass. I’ve never shot one out of the hut window, that was the closest I’d got one to camp and for me the easiest carry.


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