The Usual Suspects


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Sam left the Sunshine State and headed south to the cloudy and cool Southern New England ranges for our annual meat hunting trip.

We were after the usual suspects, fallow deer, pig and trout.

After unpacking our gear at the old shearers’ hut we ventured over to the dam to try and catch a trout for tea. With no luck fishing, we decided to head out for a quick hunt before dark.

It was early April and we hoped the fallow would be active. That was not to be as no fallow were sighted or heard, but on the positive side there was a bit of pig sign around.

Next morning a weak fog found us climbing to a high point, but we did not arrive at our destination as a fallow buck made his presence felt with a couple of croaks. We made a bee line towards the vocal buck and got in quite close before the wind betrayed our position.

We did manage to get a look at him before he gathered up his doe and trotted over the rise. He looked to have some promise so we left him to return at first light the following morning.

Heading back for breakfast around mid morning we were lucky enough to spot a mob of pigs on top of a hill, not far behind camp. Picking up the pace a little we dropped into a steep gully which would bring us out above the pigs. It was a lot steeper than we thought but we slowly made it to the top.

Now, catching our breath before looking over the crest, we decided to take out as many pigs as we could. We thought there would be a boar amongst them, but we only saw two large sows with a heap of suckers in tow.

Moving in another couple of metres we opened up. The two large sows did not move an inch as we turned our attention to the smaller pigs. Thirty seconds later nine pigs littered the ground. Nothing beats a good bomb up on a mob of pigs.

After the excitement, Sam dressed out a couple of the suckers to take home.

Later on, in the early afternoon, we again hit the dam hoping for a trout for tea. This time Sam was successful in taking a trout in beautiful condition, which fed us for the next two nights; it was absolutely superb eating.

First light found us sitting and listening for the buck we spotted the day before. Not hearing or seeing anything, we decided to move to another vantage point. Then, half way to our chosen spot, I spotted five or six does feeding on a flat below us; we felt sure there would be a buck with them but after watching them for a while we decided to head back to camp.

As we made ready to leave, the does were starting to leave as well, heading back to the fence line and the scrub beyond. Then I faltered and, taking a last look back, I noticed the alpha doe looking along the fence line.

As soon as I asked Sam what they were looking at, we spotted the buck coming down that same fence line. He was a long way off but Sam moved to a large gum tree, just in case a shot presented itself. The buck went under the fence and disappeared into the timber.

Almost immediately he reappeared, obviously worried about his ladies, then propped for a few seconds, but that was all Sam needed. The bullet dropped him like a lead balloon. At well over two hundred yards it was a ripper of a shot.

People talk about antlers with character, but this head had character written all over it, a fine 24 pointer with a good mass, as well as a prime cape. That afternoon we headed out again and harvested a spiker and young doe to fill our esky.

Our final morning dawned clear and cold and before boning out the venison, we went for a look out the back of the property. We were glassing a distant hillside when I spotted a small pig run into the blackberries below us. Not long after we heard immature pigs causing a ruckus amongst the blackberry.

A plan was hatched which had me waiting in ambush fifty yards past the blackberry patch, as we thought that would be the path they would take. Sam obliged, bombarding the blackberries with rocks and, as soon as the first rock landed, a good-sized boar bolted out of the bushes.

He made the fatal mistake of pausing before Sam put a .270 into his neck. A smaller pig made his attempted escape towards me but was also halted with the .270. It was the best possible way to end our meat hunting trip.

 

This article was first published in the September 2014 issue of Sporting Shooter magazine.

 


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