The rumble of the motorbike’s engine came to a halt, and there was an air of excitement as we clambered out of the Honda Pioneer side-by-side. We grabbed our gear and started the hike.
We were soon perched on a large rock overlooking a very steep drop-off with a clearing 200 metres below. Dad pulled out his binos and scanned the clearing. He soon tapped my back and pointed towards a red hind and yearling.
We got a surprise when we heard a stag roaring in the distance as it was well past the Roar. Dad quickly rummaged through his bag to find his roaring horn. He pulled it out of his pack and let one rip; soon, three different stags were roaring back. One in particular sounded very close … just in the bushes on the edge of the clearing. We decided to have a quick feed while we waited – as we knew it would be a long night – while having casual breaks to roar out to the stags in hope that we would lure one out.
Slowly, a red hind emerged out from the bush with a yearling following close behind. Dad pushed the gun towards me; I pressed it against my shoulder and looked into the scope. I lined up the hind, when all of a sudden, the deer disappeared from sight. As I looked up, I saw the hind and yearling fleeing for the bush. I lay the gun down in disappointment and looked at Dad with confusion, as we did not know what had spooked them.
The sun was setting fast and the light was fading; there was a wave of disappointment as we thought our hunt was over for the day. We knew it would be too dark by the time we could lure the stag out into the open, but we decided to stick around just a little bit longer.
As three stags roared below us, a red spiker limped out of the bush into the grass clearing below us. The spiker was having great difficulty getting around, so we wound the scope to full power to find his front left leg was missing. His walk explained why the hind and yearling had got such a fright and run off. While we were assessing the spiker’s injuries, the hind and yearling we had seen previously cautiously re-emerged from the bush. While contemplating which deer to shoot, we could see the spiker struggling with his injuries, so we decided to take him and end his suffering – even though the hind would be better eating. So, Dad and I carefully got up and quietly manoeuvred to a rock shelf just a couple of metres below where we were sitting. It was a lot flatter and a much better shooting platform.
Dad cautiously pulled out the 7mm Short Action Ultra Magnum and sighted the spiker, while Emily, Jimmy and Matty waited above us, keeping a close eye on the deer. Slowly, Dad handed me the gun and I peered into the scope. I soon had the deer in sight; I quietly cranked the bolt and took off the safety catch. I then put the cross on the spiker’s shoulder, placed my finger on the trigger and carefully squeezed it – just as Dad had taught me.
BANG! I smoked him in the shoulder. The spiker rolled down the clearing to drop dramatically to the ground. The hind and yearling fled once more, springing into the bush. I popped up from the ground with a smile on my face from one cheek to the other. I turned to see Dad’s hand facing me; I gave him a handshake followed by him giving me a hug. I got up to see my sister and brothers standing in front of me with smiles on their faces too.
Dad bent down and picked something out of the dirt; he handed me my bullet shell. I tucked in my pocket and did up the zip, as it’s a family tradition to always keep the bullet shell of the first deer we shoot.
We grabbed our gear and walked back to the motorbike where we removed some layers of clothing and dropped off all the excess gear for the big walk ahead. We then searched for a good trail to take down the hill to collect the spiker. We knew it was going to be a huge mission to carry it out from the valley below where he lay.
The sun was almost behind the hill as we scurried through low scrub on a slippery, muddy path. We were almost at the bottom when I saw the brown and white markings of our deer laying on the ground in the distance. I picked up my pace and urged along everyone behind me. I came around the corner to see my spiker laying in front of me. I walked round and crouched behind the deer; my sister and brothers followed, and Dad took a few photos of all of us.
Once the photos were taken, Dad and Jimmy pulled out their knives and started cutting up the spiker getting ready to carry him out. We took all the meat that we could carry between us and started our long, hard grind back up the hill to the side-by-side.
It is tradition to always carry out your first deer, but as the deer was big and the hike was a very steep climb out the valley, we all chipped in to carry the deer and gear out. My job was to carry out one of the back legs, and it was an exhausting walk out.
When we got to the motorbike, we quickly layered up with our jackets and coats for the trip home, as it had become very cold. We finished an awesome day by shooting a lot of hares and possums on the way home. This is certainly a day I’ll remember forever!
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