Hunting western billies

My brother Scott had seen some really nice goats with some exceptional heads on a particular property and there were quite a few pigs about too so plans were made  for mate Jamie and I to come up with our bows for a crack at a big billy or some pigs. The cruiser was jam-packed with gear and with two quads loaded we hit the road. Scott and a mate Bob who works with him, had access to about half a dozen stations in the area so we decided to stay in the shearers quarters on a place close to where he had seen the big goats so we could head out in the morning on the quads. It was blisteringly cold  as there was ice on the seat of the quads at 1am in the morning before we went to bed, I knew what it would be like at dawn so we weren’t in any great hurry to get out of bed that first day. Finally Scott dragged himself out of his swag and we all fought for a spot close to the fire to get warm while yakking with Ted the dozer driver who was staying in the quarters as well.

Loading the bows and other gear for the day on the quads, we had a quick breakie then headed off to check out a couple of dams which had large numbers of goats around them the week before. Pulling up a couple of hundred yards short of the first dam we geared up and slowly stalked our way closer to the dam to glass and check over a large mob of goats that were surrounding the area. Pigs started walking in from our left while mobs of goats just kept coming in one after another, it was like nothing I had seen in years as there was just so much game everywhere you looked.

Slowly we kept moving from tree to tree and kept glassing each mob with some really nice billies being spotted but they were all passed up as we were after a billy in excess of the magic 40 inch mark. Finally after glassing for close to an hour I spotted a big red billy, which looked good from a distance. So we moved in for a closer look but before we got to where we were going to glass from, the mob started to move off and when he turned directly away from us I could see he was a monster.

Deciding he was definitely a shooter I quickly covered some open ground before I lost sight of him, I then took my time following him up as they were only moving off slowly feeding as they went. At fifty yards  I couldn’t get any closer due to other goats in the mob feeding between us; now the waiting game began. Ever so slowly as they moved I would follow trying to keep myself concealed the best I could with limited cover. After I followed them for nearly an hour, one goat caught my movement and started to trot off taking the mob with him so I waited till they got into a thick patch of Sandlewood scrub then lined my self up with a big dead tree and covered some ground really quickly hoping to see them come out the other side and, almost on cue, out they came in single file.

Finally the big red billy came walking out and stopped broadside but slightly quartering away at thirty five yards. He looked directly at me as I came to full draw and settled the 30 yard pin on my bow sight just above center behind the big billy’s shoulder. Looking away again I knew he was about to move off so I took a deep breath and released. It was an awesome sight to watch that Easton full metal jacket shaft fly true and drive him right behind the shoulder and out through the offside shoulder and disappear into the scrub behind. He made a mad dash but only managed twenty yards before succumbing. Then I was pleasantly surprised that ground shrinkage had not accurred here. This goat just seemed to get bigger every time I looked at it. Walking back to where I left Scott and Jamie they were already heading my way so I informed them of my success and we all went back to check out the big fella.  We estimated him to be around the 44 inch mark and once the photo shoot had finished and dozens of pics were looked over I started to remove his head.

Jamie spotted some pigs heading towards the dam, so off he went while Scott and I finished removing the head. While waiting for Jamie, Scott and I were just talking quietly when we were both surprised by a pig grunting from behind us. We spun around to see a mob of around fifteen pigs had walked right along the pad we were on and they got a bit of a fright when they looked up and saw us four feet from them. They only trotted off for about 80 yds and went back to feeding, so I offered Scott the bow for a shot but he said “Nah, you shoot one – I can get one anytime.” Lucky prick hey? I hunted them up and put in a good shot on the biggest boar in the mob. He was only about 45kg and although the shot looked good he went a couple of hundred yards before piling up. Jamie also managed to get an arrow away, takingout a nice young boar as well.

We headed back to the quads, deciding to go to another dam down the bottom corner of the property as Scott had seen a few hundred goats and some pigs on this dam earlier during that month. It took about an hour to get there on the quads but was well worth the ride as there were goats and pigs everywhere we looked. We walked a wide berth around the dam to get the wind right and in the short time it took us to walk around 400 yards we had seen three different mobs of pigs come in and head off again before we had a chance to make a stalk. Finding a pile of dead timber on the ground close to one of the two entry points in the fenced off dam, Scott and I sat waiting to see what the quality of the billies would be like down this end of the property. Jamie spotted a good lump of a boar making his way back into the scrub and decided to follow him up so Scott and I sat tight while glassing the mobs as they came to water. We saw a few nice big billies and one that we thought would go the 40 inches. I had my new Panasonic Lumix camera so I took a few photos of him as well as some other goats that stood still long enough for me to get a decent photo. When Jamie got back we showed him the pics and sent him after the big black billy. He made a couple of stalks on the big goat but each time the other goats in the mob gave him away and eventually we ran out of light.

Riding back to the quarters, we were glad we had gloves on as it was really starting to get cold again. It was great to arrive back at camp and Ted and Bob already had a big feed cooking and the fire roaring so it was straight up to the fire to thaw out again. Ted  measured the spread on my big billy and were all surprised when it measured a massive 46 ¾ .  I was absolutely stoked. Well the beers hit the spot nicely that night as we sat around the campfire and so did the lamb chops we had for tea and after a few rums for a night cap it was off to bed. (Ahh Queensland! Beautiful one day – perfect the next – Ed)  Next morning we thought we’d use our brains a bit, deciding to take the cruiser as it had a heater. Heading down to the first dam we visited the previous day, the ute was left 200yds short  and all three of us started glassing for a big trophy goat for Jamie.  Scott soon spotted a good looking billy and,  after we got Jamie’s attention, he was keen to attempt a stalk. When Jamie started  his approach  the goats headed into a very thick paddock of Sandlewood and Gidgee scrub, so Jamie circled around and came in from in front of them. He was right in amongst them but the big billy stayed just out of bow range, Jamie finally got the chance to close the gap to 40yds but that was a close as he could get so he decided to take the shot from where he was. It was a great shot, right on the money, and took the big billy through both lungs putting him down in around 20yds. He  later measured 42 ½ inches in spread andwas Jamie’s best to date. It had a nice shaggy cape, so Jamie decided  he wanted  him shoulder mounted. I went and opened my stupid mouth and said “I’ll cape it for ya”. Well I couldn’t get the rank billy smell off for ages after that but at least I thought it might disguise my scent a bit for the next hunt.

We now headed down to the other big dam and there was game everywhere. Pigs and goats were coming in from all directions. Jamie spotted a large boar heading off to the west into the timber again so off he went after him while Scott and I planned to go and sit in the fallen timber and see what was coming in from the south side. Finally we spotted another big set of horns coming out of the Sandlewood, Acacia and Lignum scrub from the south, so I started to close the gap once again. This time, at thirty yards, I waited at full draw for all his mates to step clear before the deadly full metal jacket Easton shaft was sent on its way. The shot was a little too far forward and took him through the point of the shoulder breaking it but not getting full penetration. Although the shot was a little off he was down for the count in seconds and under 30yds -good enough for me. He was another nice goat but this time he did unfortunately get a little ground shrinkage as his body size was not as large as the other two billies shot. We later measured his spread at 40 ½ inches and I was rapt to take my second 40 inch plus billy in as many days.

Jamie couldn’t nail the big boar he was after, losing him in the heavy cover and he didn’t fancy crawling in there after a cranky old boar with only a bow and arrows. He took a couple of photos after the shot from the photo’s we could tell it wasn’t a fatal wound so he would more than likely heal up and survive. Heading back we dropped into the property owner’s house and let him know of our success and showed him the heads. He said they that were good billies for the area and we thanked him very much for allowing us to take a few trophy animals as we knew that these days the goats are like stock to the land owner and are worth quite a lot of money when mustered. Back at the quarters we had a few drinks while I finished capeing Jamie’s goat around the fire. Jamie cooked up a big feed of pork and lamb ribs and we all got stuck into them while telling the stories of how they were taken to the other boys. On our last day Jamie wanted to shoot a few pigs with his rifle so they went one way on Jamie’s quad and an ag bike while I decided that I would sit on a dam and see if I could get a few nice photos of some goats and pigs and also shoot a couple of pigs with my bow. To cut a long story short Jamie and Scott shot quite a few pigs and managed to put a wild dog on the deck as well. This was a real bonus as they are rarely seen while just riding about. Also, I got some great photos of goats and pigs and even arrowed a few pigs with the bow.

It was a great trip and Jamie and I thanked Scott for organizing such a great place for us to come out and have a hunt with him and as we were driving home we were already planning our next trip to the channel country hunting the western billies.

This article was first published in Sporting Shooter, November 2011




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