School holidays were approaching fast and I was eager to have some fun. My Uncle Brenton had offered for my dad and I to come deer hunting in The Brisbane Valley with him, my Aunty Erin and baby cousin Harry over the Easter long weekend. Hearing this was like music to my ears, as I had been wanting to hunt a nice stag for a while now; this was my chance, so as usual, I jumped at the oopportunity. Hunting has always been one of my favourite things to do.
Friday afternoon rolled around and I was ready to go; all I had to do was wait for Dad. When he got home, we packed the car and headed off. The drive took a bit over an hour and had some picturesque scenery. Uncle Brent, Aunty Erin and Harry greeted us when we arrived at camp as they had been there a little while beforehand.
After setting up camp, we all rode off on the quads to explore some of the beautiful mountain tracks and river crossings the Valley had on display. Then four of us headed back with darkness at our tail. As night set in, we sat around the campfire and made our plans for the following day’s hunt and getting up early sounded pretty good to us. The next couple of hours were filled with funny stories and our fair share of roasted marshmallows. That night I was very unsuccessful at sleeping and can blame Dad for that because he was snoring in fits and starts all night. Morning broke and we were woken by Uncle Brent. The first thing he said was “Get up, we slept in!” Getting ready was the easy part, after that, it was hunting mode.
After 40 minutes of riding, we parked the quads and set off on foot. Uncle Brent knew of an area where a nice dominant stag had been holding a large group of hinds but to get to it, the three of us had to travel 2km through rugged mountainous country. When approaching the area, we heard a stag roar, so we started our stalk. Moving in closer, we spotted some hinds. The wind was less than perfect making the stalk difficult. After covering the last hundred meters on our bellies, we spotted a nice big stag on the other side of the gully.
This was the stag we had been looking for. A cluster of rocks were in my view and these would provide me with a steady rest. My rifle of choice was a Ruger Compact in 6mm PPC using 85 grain ACP projectiles. Dad had tested these recently on pigs and knew they were capable with a well-placed shot. With this caliber, there was not much room for error but I was confident that if the stag presented a good shot, I would be more than capable.
While watching him through the scope, I noticed he was preoccupied by four young stags on the far hill that were interested in his hinds. Brenton ranged the stag at 254 yards and dad had said previously that he didn’t want me shooting anything over 200 yards with the little 6mm PPC. Dad moved the pack from underneath the rifle and rested it onto the hard rock. While laying prone on my belly this provided me with a very steady lean and I said that I was comfortable to take the shot. Brenton gave a roar hoping to bring him in closer but it seemed to have the opposite effect. His harem of hinds started moving off up the hill and he turned and followed several steps before stopping and looking back. I rested the crosshairs high on his shoulder as dad whispered “If you’re comfortable, take the shot.” Dad’s words were unnecessary as I was about to squeeze the trigger. The stag lunged forward at the shot, and then disappeared over the top of the mountain. The three of us waited in anticipation for about 10 minutes before we started to track the stag.
We stalked to the top of the mountain looking for any signs of blood. From the crest of the mountain we spotted his hinds looking at something in the gully. Looking through his binoculars, Brenton finally spotted the tip of an antler poking through the top of the grass.
Whilst stalking in closer, we confirmed that it was my stag and he was down, I was stoked. The ACP projectile performed perfectly. The bullet hit the stag low in the lungs and exited behind the offside shoulder, leaving a good wound channel. A rare blonde stag lay at my feet. He was a nice double four. “What a beauty!” I thought. He was my first stag and I was rapt. We snapped a few photos then spent the next hour removing his cape and antlers. When we arrived back at camp, Brent and Dad finished the caping, and then afterwards, Dad and I salted the skin.
To say I was proud of myself would be an understatement. A shout-out to my Uncle Brenton is in order as through his deer hunting experience my dream became reality. It was the best Easter I’ve ever had and it’s all thanks to Dad, Brenton, Erin and Harry. For my first stag, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. He will be mounted in no time taking pride of place on my bedroom wall so every time I look at him I will be reminded of my first red deer hunt.