By B.W. Clements – First Published Rod&Rifle Sept/Oct 1988.
Having sorted out our party for the roar of 86 into the Kaiweka, then receiving news that one of our party would have to pull out due to a death in his family, just about made my brother and I cancel our trip.
After discussing the extra cost we decided to go anyway.
April the 18 arrived and we choppered our way into the Mangatainoka with Toby Clark from Air Charter Taupo. On arriving at our destination we were greeted by three other hunters from Tokoroa who had walked downstram from their drop point to fly camp and hunt for a few days. We then set about organising our camp and sorting out hunting areas with the other party. Saturday morning dawned and Stan and I headed off upstream to an area Stan had spooked a stag the previous year. Ten minutes off the main stream we sidled into a gully and to our surprise there it was on the opposite spur. The outline of hte deer could be seen on checking through the scope, the brow tines, head, neck and shoulders were visible. I closed the bolt and fired, the 30-06 dropped the stag instantly but he jumped to his feet and leapt over teh ridge. We raced through the gully and found the rut hole he had been standing in. A blood trail led me to my first eight point sika which was laying on his back with antlers tangled around a tree. After removing the head and hind quarters we opened him up to see were the bullet had entered. My aim was accurate, having hit him in the shoulder. The spent bullet was found perfecting mushroomed on the opposite side which made both of us wonder how tough these sika really are. While heading back to camp we heard another stag roaring on the main ridge between the Mohaka and Mangatainoka and having heard this stag last year we decided it would be worth looking at this trip. The following day we went after the stag we had heard the previous day. On nearing the top of the ridge we ran into a mob of reds, but didn’t get a chance for a shot at them. We hunted around the area for a few hours without success so we hunted back to camp.
In the meantime the Tokoroa party decided to hunt their way to the hot springs, then come back upstream to their heli pad for the return trip to Taupo.
Day three of our trip proved unsuccessful so on arriving back at camp we set about cutting firewood and generally cleaning up when we heard a chopper flying up and down the valley. The chopper was the rescue one from Taupo and it was coming into land on our pad. We thought someone had been injured. The cause for alarm was not needed as two guys were unloading their gear. The pilot asked us if it was alright to leave the new hunting party here as they could not find anywhere else that was vacant. Once the chopper had gone and the newcomers had settled in they came over to us for conversation and a brew. They were Australians one from Victoria the other from Tasmania and had just been shifted from the Mangapapa stream following a weeks hunting in there.
Robert had shot a five pointer and Micheal a six. The head of my stag was under much discussion about D.S. size so Robert and Michael scored it at approx one hundred forty nine which was larger than I had though when I shot it. Stan and I decided the next morning would be spent looking for the stag on the main ridge. We left early the next day and hunted between the beech forest and manuka faces which run into the Mohaka.
Around midday we were getting close to the spot where the stag had been roaring previously and now noticed freshly used rut holes. Stan took the lead as we slowly stalked along the ridge After a while the action began. I had been watching down into the fern gullies of the Mangatainoka side when I looked up to see my brother slowly raising his 7mm with a sika stag standing no more than twenty metres in front of us. It seemed like an eternity before the shot boomed out and the stag collapsed. The animal sported a beautifully even six point head which later scored out at approx 135 D.S. The bullet was also recovered on the off shoulder which once again proves how tough these animals are. Back at camp celebrations were in order as this was Stan’s first decent antlered stag. The following few days proved unsuccessful for Stan, Micheal and I but for Robert it was a far more productive day. He had left camp at 7.30 on the particular morning and after hunting all day and arriving back at six he had shot what he had come for, the magical eight point sika. The story that was related to us was that after stalking most of the morning with no success he heard a red stag roaring which he decided to investigate.
On moving in on the red a sika answered, this being more inviting the stalk was changed. Moving down a spur Robert said he spotted some hinds below him. After a while they began to move off so he watched them move up the other side of the gully and then stop. Searching the area with his scope he ended up looking eye to eye with the stag. A flick of the safety and a squeeze of the trigger and Robert had his trophy. Celebrations again.
The last day of hunting Micheal and I decided to go after a stag my brother-in-law had shot at last year. We found his rut holes up a low ridge about 25 minutes from camp. Stalking through the pepper wood we managed to spook him thus only catching a fleeting glimpse of him. After stalking another three to four hours and spooking a couple more we returned to camp empty handed. That night we packed some of our gear ready for the chopper in the morning which was due at 10.30. The rest of the evening was spent highlighting the events of the trip. The next morning we carted our gear to the heli pad and waited for the whine of the 500 D which would take us reluctantly back to civilisation. When it landed we loaded our belongings and saying our farewells to Micheal and Robert we were on our way back. The roar of 86 was over for us but we had met some fine friends and had a trophy each and memories to last a lifetime.