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Bulls, Bulls, ahhh those Bulls: by Bill McLeod

02/03/2020 10:31 PM | Bob McMillan (Administrator)

 From Bill, 2 Feb 2020.

           Kit and I were summoned by our boss to move north to the Puketi, Omahuta, and Waipoua Forests. The objective was to shoot as many of the remnants of the feral cattle herds living in these forests as we could. Local stockmen had been asked to round up as many as possible using dogs and horses.  This was the only muster method feasible in this steep, thickly vegetated country. The remnants were mainly mature bulls - seriously time consuming for conventional muster techniques and seriously dangerous for horses and stockmen -  which I was to find out years later while mustering on North Cape. We were there to shoot these bulls.

            Our first encounter was a complete disaster. Greg, Kit and I found a big old bull in the Waipapa. I’d come off a deer block; Kit and Greg out of the King Country. We all had confidence in our little guns. This was totally misplaced. I can still see the bull busting out of the thick veg, crashing through the river leaving a spray like a jet sprint boat, with the dogs encouraging it. I gave it a mag full of 222s aiming for the lungs, Kit admitted later he used 20 rounds of 222.  Greg fired his last shot down the poor bulls ear hole when it was stuck in a tomo after he’d fired 40 rounds. This was clearly not acceptable. We changed to heavier rifles, Kit a 303, I used my trusty 308.

            Greg moved back to the King Country leaving Kit and l to do the hunting. Kit was a beef cocky from Raglan; he knew the power and danger of these bulls. He refused, quite rightly in hindsight, to go in on the bulls when the dogs bailed them in thick cover. Me, being stupid, loved it. Our dogs would start a fight with the bull, usually solitary, in the kauri grass. To say the bulls bailed was a complete fallacy; they could crash off whenever they chose. The trick was to sneak in and pop them when they were interested in chasing the dogs. I quickly found that only a clean brain shot or an atlas joint neck shot was effective. The closest shot I fired was at about three feet. The bull was galloping down the same tunnel that I was on in the dense kauri grass. He was not charging. He did not know I was there, I just happened to be in his path. Had to jump behind a kauri tree and give him one as he went past. Significant relief when he went down.

            I went to Auckland with the full intent of buying a 458, the only one on the market had just been sold. I had to make do with the 308. It worked but your heart was in your mouth a lot of the time.
Hunting some spurs along the Waipapa one day I heard a deliberate series of shots from up on the ridge where Kit was working. The shots went on and on.  I made my way up to find Kit looking a bit frayed. There was a dead bull twenty metres in front of him. He showed me where the bull was when he first engaged it, a bit over 100 yards away. He said on getting the first hit the bull started moving toward him and kept on coming. He fired a full magazine from his 303 finishing up at 20 yards. From memory that one was the only one he shot. Sensible.

The Puketi was our best hunting ground for bulls, Omahuta and Waipoua were much quieter. Years later I hunted and shot bulls and buffalo on North Cape, Raukumaras, Chatham Islands, Northern Territory of Australia and Botswana. I would have loved to have had my 375 for the earlier hunting.


  • 03/03/2020 10:41 AM | Miles Wei
    This article is awesome. I am also eager to try. It is said that the recoil of the 375 is much stronger than the 308. Is it true? Thank you.
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    • 04/03/2020 9:24 AM | William McLeod
      The only opportunity for cattle hunting in New Zealand at present that I am aware of is in the Wanganui region where some landowners with mustering difficulties offer hunts. One bloke I know tried this and was very happy with his results.
      Another option are the scrub bull safaris in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
      The 375 kicks, of course it does, but I found it very manageable, it won’t kill you. In preparation for my Botswana hunt I fired several hundred rounds in practice and used it hunting
      In the Urewera. I found my one noticeably easier to handle than my 416.
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