Hunting for Murchison Goats

One of our mates wanted to get a goat with his bow and had been on our backs for yonks to take him to a spot we knew. It was the Murchison and the water there was only just suitable for stock to drink. Pig sign had been plentiful on previous trips and we had taken a good tally of goats. Ken and I loaded up his ute, with the quads on the trailer behind and the two Brads went in Brad one’s ute. We had a bit of trouble finding the track in as it had been a while since Ken and I had been here last, but we finally made the river crossing and set up camp. The dogs were tied up for use later in the day.

Brad two on behind Ken’s quad and Brad one on behind me on mine and we were off looking for sign. The day was cloudy and a bit on the cool side which made the goats stay high up on the ridges of the break away and seek shelter. Brad one taps me on the shoulder and points out goats high up to the right of us. Catching up with the others, we swing up the first small overgrown track, trying to get as close as possible to save a big walk. As these were the first spotted, they would be the ones that Brad one would try to bow. After climbing off the quads we stalked our way towards them, losing sight regularly, only to see them further along. They appeared to be making for a sheltered area that had some thick bush hanging over a rock outcrop. Brad was way out front to keep the situation the way he wanted. The rest of us hung back and watched him getting closer and closer.

We had a good camouflaged observation point and were able to relay the hunt to him later. He had the bow string pulled right back ready to let loose at about 10 metres, when unbeknown to him, a black and white coloured goat wandered into the hide. The result was that the other goats jumped up and moved towards the interloper completely blocking Brad’s aim. He moved to get back into position, when a big billy cottoned onto him. They took off, throwing stones and twigs in every direction. He still wanted to follow up on them, so he told us to take off back to the quads, hunt up on some of our own and he would make his way back to camp later.

The three of us hit the river flats and looked for pig sign so we could bring the dogs back later. There were heaps of wallows and murky water still hanging in them – just that morning! Swinging wide onto another old track and looking both up and around, it was not long before four big billies flushed out of the bush and headed into cover; we did not get a chance to shoot. Making it onto another track, we headed back to camp. Brad was back and had just started a fire for our evening meal, telling us he had stalked another mob but was unsuccessful. After a big feed, we loaded up the dogs on the quads and headed to the river to try to catch out some unsuspecting grunters. They were too clever for our team and by 2300 we were back at camp counting zeds’.

Up at 0430, a feed and we were off. Again the day was fairly cool and it had rained a little last night. The first sighting of goats was about lunchtime and they were real high up and we felt too difficult to hunt. We had a quick bite to eat and decided to hunt the flats just in case a goat might come for a drink. Half a km later, seven billies bolted from the rock-strewn waterhole and headed for cover. Too late! Ken dropped one in quick order and I put three down. Brad one called out that he had just missed one also. (Note- Brad two was only an observer for this trip). It then started to rain again and our swags had been hung up to dry from last night. Back to camp quick sticks! Our gear was wet but, lucky for us it was windy and the gear dried out in no time. Again that night we hunted with the dogs but no grunters were to be had. The two Brads packed up their gear and headed back home later that night as their leave passes had expired.

We thought that this had to be the day we got onto some reasonable mobs of goats. Crawling out of bed at 0530 the next morning, we were greeted by a cloudless crisp morning. Winding our way along on the quads up and down the banks of the river flats, we noticed the fresh pig sign, some of it close to the camp! The dogs must have wanted a holiday the last two nights. The day was getting hot by now.

Goats! Goats! A big mob took off. Ken dropped one before they disappeared. Following up in their direction, we notice a nanny in the distance that did not know we were there. No cover for a stalk. I placed out the bipodson the Styer .308 and let rip. Down it went to our amazement and we paced the distance out to 250 metres.
I normally don’t try for long shots for varied reasons, but it was nice to know I could do it. Parking the quads at the river, we walked along downstream, hoping the bleaters might be in for a drink.

“There!” Whispers Ken as he nudges my arm. About 12 goats are just leaving the water after a drink. We split up, but are still able to see each other, crouched down and waiting. Along they came. Both of us started shooting as they came into view. I hit a big billy as it went into some flood damaged scrub. It seemed to be still moving, so I shot again. Later on checking, I found two bullet holes 50 mm apart from each other just behind the front leg. Still more shots coming from Ken as the goats moved past him. Moments later nine goats were down.

Now moving through them, a flash from the right and three billies took off for cover. The river sand was hard to run on, but as I swung past a bush I spotted them. Before Ken could line one up, I had fired, reloaded and fired again. Two of the Billies lay on the ground. The camera got busy and meat was taken from the nannies for eating.
 Having a cool drink back home later that day, a few good laughs were had as we reminisced on the last couple of days. It was a pleasure to clean the rifle as I thought back on the hunt.

This article was first published in Sporting Shooter, October 2011




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