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The Maungatutara: by Bill McLeod

24/01/2023 1:34 PM | Bob McMillan (Administrator)

Danny Brister and I choppered into the Maungatutara, landing at a shack referred to as the green hut. To call it a hut was vastly overstating its condition but it was late spring with no rain forecast so it would do fine. Danny brought his pig dogs, he was wanting to catch some pork with new dogs, while I was more interested in looking through the catchment for any potential spots for a roar hunt. On the first evening I had a stroll up the valley, not too far, just looking for marks. There was plenty of sign along the river flats both pork and venison. First thing in the morning I was up and away leaving Danny to have a sleep in and then  a pig hunt. Sure enough not a K from the hut there was a spiker wandering through the scrub along the river. It went down to the shot. I was back at the hut with the deer before Danny got away. He put in a solid days pig hunting while I went trout fishing. Lazing around in the late afternoon, nothing much to do except have a swim in the river, I commented how does your rifle shoot. He had a Winchester 44 Magnum lever gun. He said he’d never fired it. That was most unacceptable to me so I found a grocery box and set it up about 25 yards away. The first shot barely clipped the very top of the box. Miles high. Danny said that’s right he got the gun with no sights and he’d just bashed some on. I put the rear sight slide as far up as possible and tapped the front sight over a bit. Shifted the box to 50 yards. The next shot was still well high, actually off the box, but much better and correct for windage. Should hit a pig at bail up range. 

Next day I went for a big hikoi right to the head of the valley. Stopped in at the Maungatutara hut and made a cup of tea. I’d been to the hut once before but had walked over the top of the range from the Mangaokura. I started to stagger as I made my way down the river still many kilometers from home. Only one thing to do. Ten minutes rest, ten minutes travel, ten minutes rest 20 minutes travel and repeat till I got to the shack. Bit buggered. 

Next day, our last, I decided to keep Danny company on his pig hunt down valley. I didn’t take a rifle as we were pig hunting. Got well down the valley without finding any pigs. I saw a nice stag standing on a river terrace. Said to Danny Shoot it. He said No you shoot  it. I said No You shoot it. He took his rifle off his shoulder, levered a cartridge into it and thrust it into my hand. Any more of this bullshit and the stag would run away. I made some calculations based on where the rifle had hit the box, held well low of my intended strike area and made the shot. The stag dropped on the spot. Danny is a big unit so he carried the stag back to camp. 

The rifle I was carrying on this trip was my Sako 300 WSM, a rifle I had carried a lot and shot a lot of game with. Some at long range , some at short range. I had carefully reloaded my ammo with high class bullets and verified that it shot accurately. This was in total contrast to Danny’s rifle which was of unknown accuracy, dubious sighting and a mixture of ammo. There was a huge difference in power between the two rifles. The deer did not notice any difference, they both went down. Sometimes I think we can get a bit carried away with our rifles, some of the most unlikely candidates can do well, just give them a fair go. 

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