Alex Juris recounts a great bonding hunt with his friends, Tom and Chris Burton.
The rut had now finished in my area and it was relatively quiet, with only a few fallow bucks located whilst grunting or croaking calls to does or to warn off other bucks trying to take a doe from his batch of girls.
It was good to have Tom Burton and his dad Chris this time as they had hunted the fallow rut with me for the last two years in the hope of cracking decent bucks.
The previous year Tom had opened his account as a junior deer hunter taking a nice little fallow buck. That hunt had been text-book; we had arrived in the fallow haunt at just before dusk and moved to an area where I knew a juvenile buck was living. I indicated the general direction I thought the buck would approach from and Tom set himself up with his 7.62×39 CZ527 carbine. As soon as he was ready I started clacking away with the rattling antlers. After about five minutes we observed what appeared to be a deer moving towards us through the lightly timbered gum forest.
Chris was watching closely with his Steiner 8×30 LRF binoculars and whispered that it was the buck we were after. The buck kept moving towards us until it came to a fence about 75m from Tom‚Äôs shooting position. The buck stopped at the fence and was deciding whether to jump it when Tom‚Äôs carbine roared. The buck jumped seemingly well hit and started to run, but he only made a few strides and then collapsed.
We jumped up, grabbed our gear and headed over to where the buck lay, Tom moving in front ready to take a follow up shot if required. We crossed the fence at a gate, and Tom moved up to the deer confirming it was dead, the Sako 123gr soft point projectile had worked perfectly. At this stage there was a lot of hand shaking and backslapping. Tom was a pretty happy 13-year-old, and Chris was clearly a very proud dad.
We proceeded to take photos of the buck and happy young hunter from every possible angle. With cameras now overloaded we quickly butchered the buck, taking some nice meat and the head, and strolled back to the car.
That was Tom‚Äôs first deer hunt, and Chris and I both told him hunting deer is usually much harder than this. To have a deer on the ground in less than two hours is pretty good going. I pointed out to Tom that usually it took much longer to shoot your first deer and he had done exceptionally well.
Fast forward to the 2015 rut in early April, Tom, Chris and I were once again chasing fallow bucks. So far this year the rut had been a little quiet with not a lot of grunting. This was confirmed by Ted Mitchell and Tony Pizzata, who had been hunting this area the previous week and had both taken nice bucks.
Tom and Chris had been hunting another property in the area earlier in the week, where they had already managed to stalk and shoot some nice goats and were now hoping for a buck each and maybe a pig. Once again Tom was hunting with his 7.62×39 CZ527 fitted with a Burris E1 2-7×33 and using the factory Sako 123gr SP ammo. Tom had shot six goats with this setup earlier in the week and each goat had dropped on the spot, with none requiring a follow up shot. The lightweight, mild recoiling, potent carbine was proving to be the ideal hunting rifle for the budding teenage hunter. This year Chris was hunting with his new bow, a Hoyt Carbon Sypder Turbo.
The first day out we hunted with Tony and Ted, they headed in one direction and we in another. There was plenty of good deer sign however we were struggling to hear a deer grunt or see anything. After poking along very quietly for an hour or so we noticed two small pigs coming in from the open grassland heading for their bedding spot. Tom quickly lay down behind his pack and promptly dropped the first one, and I followed suite on the second one. While they weren‚Äôt record breakers it was nice to see and shoot some wild pigs. While we were snapping some pictures of the downed pigs we heard several shots in the direction that Ted and Tony had been hunting.
We headed back to the rendezvous and soon spotted Ted and Tony, judging from the grins on their faces they had managed to put a nice buck on the ground. The remainder of the morning was spent photographing and recovering Ted’s buck.
During the afternoon we recce‚Äôd a few other locations but came up empty handed. It was decided that the following morning Tom, Chris, and I would hunt a place where Ted and Tony had seen a nice buck several days earlier.
We arrived nice and early and walked into where we thought the deer may be operating. The wind was proving to be very uncooperative swinging from one direction to another, with no consistency. After rattling and doe calling from several spots without success, we moved down a spur line that overlooked a covered re-entrant that was overshadowed by a higher ridgeline. After doe calling and rattling for half an hour we had just about decided it wasn‚Äôt going to happen. We stood up and put on our packs, but as we were doing so I mentioned to the boys that I had previously seen a deer moving down the re-entrant below us. Almost as if it had been a command, as I uttered the words, we all noticed a set of antler tips moving quickly down the re-entrant away from us!
We immediately knelt down, Tom grabbed his Bog-Pod shooting sticks and readied for a shot. I tried doe calling, but the buck kept moving away; at this stage he was at about 120m and in light timber. However, as soon as the rattling antlers were clacked together he stopped in his tracks and starting looking for this previously unseen competitor. I kept rattling and the buck started moving towards us, now at a slow trot. Chris was calling the range to Tom as he observed the buck through his binos.
When the buck reached the 80m mark Chris quietly whispered to Tom he should shoot as soon as a shot is presented. Almost immediately the CZ carbine shattered the morning calm, the impact of the projectile causing the buck to lurch to one side, the buck then staggered across the side of the hill seeking the cover of the re-entrant only to make it about 20 metres and then collapse.
Tom was very calm and cool about it all as he approached his trophy, with a broad smile appearing on his face. What then followed was hand shakes all round with plenty of photos taken and the whole morning talked about up to that moment.
It was then time to carry out the meat, the skin, and the head, Tom unable to stop grinning despite the steep hill and the unwieldy trophy slung across his shoulders.
An hour or two later we get back to my place, Ted and Tony have left, however text messages have already been sent with pictures and a description of the hunt. As soon as they heard that Tom had managed to deck the deer they had seen earlier in the week they were on the phone congratulating him. He was now a real deer hunter!
During the week long hunting trip Tom managed to shoot goats, a nice fallow buck, and a pig. He showed maturity beyond his years in the way he handled his rifle and hunted in the bush. And in my view, there is really not much more satisfying than watching a young hunter learn new skills, get a chance to practice them, and then harvest quality game animals.
Awesome! Until next time Tom.