Sika at Clements Road
Saturday dawned fine and still, but oh so dry. Silent running was going to be difficult with conditions so dry and crunchy underfoot.
With the morning breeze getting stronger as the sun rose higher I slowly made my way up the ridge. After about 300 metres, a squeal from my left. Frozen to the spot, eyes peeled, but can't see this deer. Just crash crash through the ferns, and it's gone. Bugger.
But, this Sika's squeals prompted other deer around to squeal and give away their position. Another Sika up ahead and to my right, with yet another Sika way off behind me. While trying to get a fix on the closest Sika, it shut up.
Continuing on as quietly as possible and while moving through some ferns, squeal, pause, squeal, then silence. Sounded closer. Hasn't moved far... interesting. Freeze, listen, trying to pick out sounds not drowned out by the incessant noise of circling blow flies. Nothing. Has this animal decided to retreat?
Continuing on slowly. Ahead the trees opened up. Clearing? Slip? Worth investigating for sure.
Easing forward, then a loud squeal from my right. Turning slowly I caught sight of the Sika looking straight across the fern covered gut about 75 yards away, then another squeal. Can't afford to muck around, what can I use as a rest? A slender bare sapling pole was handy so I very slowly raised the rifle, braced against the sapling, clocking the action, cross hairs on the chest, squea--BOOOOM!
The Sika dropped out of sight, then I caught sight of some undergrowth moving off to the right, then silence. Staying on point, watching, waiting, still nothing. Time to approach, making my way down the clearing onto a fallen tree trunk serving as a convenient bridge.
Climbing up through clouds of fern dust I broke out onto open ground under the trees. Looking in the direction of that final movement I spotted the Sika hind with it's lovely spotted coat.
Lifting the head I could see the shot hit the base of the neck dead centre. This deer didn't run, it just tumbled a couple of metres. Meat saver shot.
Reached into my backpack for the heavy nylon cord, then selected an overhanging tree branch. With the rear hooves tied I tossing the line over the branch and hauled the carcass up and gutted the deer. Well, if I thought the blowflies were bad before, that was nothing compared to now. Where on earth do they all come from so quickly?
Time for some lunch and let the meat cool, all the time nudging the carcass to keep the flies moving.
How far to the road, how much of a grunt? A quick GPS check indicated about 700 metres. Slicing between the rear leg bone and tendons, then feeding the front legs through the slice I effectively created a pack which was quite comfortably to wear.
Best way out from here? Looks like down hill out the bottom of the gut, then across to the main ridge and back to the road. Easier said than done, but made it back to the road and waiting car at around 3:30pm. After rehydrating it was time to head back to camp to hang the carcass over night to set the meat before boning out.