Matho’s blog: The beauty of deer in the bush

This morning’s dawn was brief but beautiful, a pleasant distraction as I walked away from the car and into the bush, loading the rifle as I went. I yawned as my legs warmed up to the exercise. It was the earliest I’d been up in about a month and the first walk I’d done in a week.

I carried the Schultz in case there were pigs about. Using it would be a bonus, though, because first and foremost I wanted to see what was happening in one of my favourite deer-stalking haunts.

The benefit of seasonal deer hunting, and the enforced lay-off during the current off-season, is having no pressure to actually hunt. Scouting is a very different thing, done with a mindset where the only shooting you do is with the camera.

Heading over into the first gully, I spotted a doe in trees at the bottom. She looked out, on alert. Then I saw the pair of wedge-tailed eagles on the ground about 50m from her. They worried her. Maybe she had a fawn in there.

I headed around and down, scaring away the birds but coming in above the fallow so she didn’t spook until I was just 30m from her. She bolted at the last minute, again making me think she had a fawn tucked away, so I quietly looked around. But no, nothing.

Skirting roos and sheep (isn’t it amazing how close you can get to both when they’re quiet and not treated badly?), I worked my way along the hills to the far gully and saw two deer coming up from the very bottom after feeding on the open ground beyond. As I moved further, I found one more at my height, feeding. He seemed alone but as I crept closer his mate jumped from beneath a thick bush, but after a few seconds of confusion they stood nervously for a while until I decided to move on.

A big fella, his velvet antlers just beginning to take shape, was eating among thicker scrub only 30m further around. I watched him for a while, then moved down to photograph the ones coming up from below.

I’d been sitting on the hillside for a minute or two when whoosh! A wedge-tail treated me to a low pass from behind, swooping straight over my head and then wheeling high above.

He did it a couple of times before settling in a tree on the ridge and screeching, which got the deer right on edge. They were soon gone.

I took the hint and left, too, another couple of hours in the Aussie bush imprinted in my memory.


Mick Matheson




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.