A buck sheperding his brood

Be Careful Out There

Reid Hjorth has a salutary safety tale for private land hunters.

Reid's trophy from his double-back stalk.
Reid’s trophy from his double-back stalk.

A recent incident happened to me whilst out hunting and it got me thinking, “Am I the only one out there?” I am talking about hunting private land here, but it equates with public land too, even more so really.

I was out by myself, hunting a block that has a few foxes, pigs and deer poking about the place, but the rut was on, so my mind was on the deer. I had permission to hunt for three days from the Head Manager – three morning and three arvo hunts, with 3000 acres all to myself, just perfect I thought.

The first morning, a Friday, I was out before first light as usual. It was prime time and there were a few bucks croaking here and there about the place.

The first buck seen of the morning was a big old mature bugger, just what I like, however, one side was fairly weak in the antler department, so I let him be, chasing his girls, while I went and looked for a better one.

A buck sheperding his brood
A buck sheperding his brood

It was one of those days where I could do no wrong, sneaking up on each and every buck I could hear and give them a good looking over with binos and snapping plenty of photos in the process.

Having had a good morning’s hunt, I headed for the 4WD and home. But I can’t help myself when hunting, I have to look over the next hill or go the long way home, as you just never know what might have been if you don’t. So, despite the extra effort involved, I went looking for the mature buck that I saw at first light. After a fair amount of looking with the binos, I found him not far from where I left him hours earlier. After some consideration, my .300 Win. Mag. spat out a 155gn projectile and, at only 60 metres, he never knew what hit him.

Happy with my successful morning hunt, I didn’t hunt the afternoon shift, so as to ease up the hunting pressure and give my rut weary legs a well-deserved rest.

Come Saturday morning though, I was out again soaking up as much of the rut while I could. Wow! What a contrast. It was like someone had turned the rut switch off. The deer were quiet and even the does where hard to find – something wasn’t right. On the walk back to the 4WD after another “I’ll just look down this gully” moment, I spied a deer carcass. Heading down for a closer look, it was a fresh kill, but not from that morning. Finding that, it sort of makes you think, “Who else is out here?” I soon found out. Another hunter was crossing the paddock as I was and we caught up for a chat. It seems a bit of miscommunication had happened between farm managers (not a family run farm) and we both thought we had sole access.

At least it explained why the morning hunt was so quiet anyway. We swapped mobile numbers so it wouldn’t happen again.

It just goes to show that wearing blaze orange isn’t a stupid idea, even on private land where you think you have

A blaze orange hat is a good safety measure when hunting or reconnoitering on any private land.
A blaze orange hat is a good safety measure when hunting or reconnoitering on any private land.

free rein on the place as far as hunting goes. Is it just you sneaking up on a roar/croak or is it actually another hunter deer calling, whom you are creeping in on? It also reinforces the fact that you should always identify your target 100 percent before you squeeze the trigger.




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Marcus O'Dean