Molly’s advanced warning on this post: ONLY PROCEED IF YOU FIND THE MINISCULE DETAILS OF DEER HUNTING INTRIGUING!
I got invited to go out deer hunting with a few good chaps (Damien and Hamish) over the weekend. Deer hunting here is a bit different. Unless you know a farmer that will let you hunt on his station, then the only public hunting grounds available is typically several hours walk from a road. That means camping out, typically a two day venture to go hunting.
We donned all of our camping/hunting gear and headed for Pinchgut Hut, about a 2 hour walk from the car park.
After arriving at the hut and taking a break we poured over the topo maps of the land we’d be hunting in the evening. It gets dark around 9:30-10:00pm which is also the best time to hunt as the animals are much more active and walking about just before dusk. The “easiest” hunting is walking up to the open grass lands and watching the bush edge waiting for a deer to walk out. To me, the flat plateau poking out from the side of the mountain was screaming “deer hang out here!” Whitetails at home seem to like to be in a high point in the woods where they can see and smell all around them. Now, I don’t know anything about New Zealand deer habits, food source, etc, but I still wanted to check that spot out.
The wind was blowing from the northwest so I could not simply walk up the track from the hut and then down the edge of the mountain as the (supposed) deer would surely smell me coming. The only available option was to bush-bash (in America we call it Bush-whacking) up through the Pinchgut stream valley and then up the side of the mountain to the plateau.
Pinchgut Valley comes down very steeply to a narrow (10ft wide) stream, there was no room to walk on the edge of the stream as it was to steep and very dense forest. I ended up wading up through the center of the stream to the point where I knew I had to turn up the mountain. As I approached this “premier” spot several hours later the forest opened up and there were deer trails in every direction with fresh scat everywhere. Gratified, I glanced above me and voila! There was a deer standing there in the exact spot I was aiming for! It’s quite satisfying to point to a spot on the map and say ” I reckon there is a deer there”…..then have it be true.
As it was getting late in the evening, I still had a 2hr walk back to the hut. I decided I would hang the deer in a tree and come back in the morning with an empty backpack to cut all the meat off.
The next morning Hamish volunteered to come with me and help with the haul back to the hut. The climb up from the hut was about 600metres in elevation, enough to give your heart a good workout! We cut every piece of meat off the deer (Molly wanted some bones for a soup stock, but I was not willing to carry bones–sorry Molly, the GPS coordinates are S-43.136694,E172.319992). We bagged it up and trudged back to the hut to get the rest of our gear for the 2hr walk out to the car.