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Thread: Highs and Lows of Sambar hunting..long tale,reach for a dram haha!

  1. #1
    SD Regular johngryphon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Victoria Australia Sambar country.

    Highs and Lows of Sambar hunting..long tale,reach for a dram haha!

    A fantastic few weeks of hunting recently had me out in the bush with renewed vigour in chasing ever elusive sambar and it all started off with some exploratory hunting ...
    ..looking for obvious rubs and marks and anything relevant to deer being evident in some sort of numbers in an area I hadn't been to for some time. During this period the highs of great hunting and numerous deer sightings were tempered with the low of the loss of a "big fella" at this time though more on him later. These particular few weeks started off with an early a.m start on a very cold Friday morning which had me arriving well before daybreak at my chosen hunting grounds.
    With only the always welcome songs of a male Lyrebird and the multitude of other bush birdsong sounding for company I made my way from my ute to be greeted with the sight of a sea of dense white fog in the gully's stretching far below. Only the tops near and distant escaped the sea of white and as this sight looked absolutely magnificent the thought of a photo or two for the album entered my mind.
    Suddenly, when after taking a few more steps this resulted in being honked from heavy cover only a hundred metres distant from my Toyota. "Ripper!" I thought silently, "this is a good start" as I ventured a little further along the ridge and bugger me here was another deer, a sambar hind walking along the top game trail in the head of a high gully right towards me at a range of sixty yards. A quick scurry down behind a covering bush had me frantically getting the old 35 mm Minolta out of my daypack and then by peering around the bush I saw the hind now followed by her 7 month old calf turn off the head of the gully game trail and cross a saddle not forty metres from me but through timber now too thick to get a decent photograph.
    She obviously knew where she was going and with the temperature being quite cold I presumed she was heading for the sun just over the ridge. Ok then "this is a top day "I thought to myself as it's not too often that a hunter has close up takeable sambar deer in his sights and view's them unseen.
    Sneaking a few hundred metres further along the high line had me looking down another high gully top and immediately spotting a deer below in a sunny glade which I could see was a hind, she had a spikey alongside, these deer were at approximately 140 metres distance from me and they were down a steep slope at quite an angle, maybe 60 degrees or so.
    Sitting down quickly with the bino`s glued to my eyes and then seeing to my amazement a well spotted unantlered fallow deer which was seemingly very comfortably feeding with them and then the sunlit reflective flash of antlers a minute later signalled the arrival of a stag from underneath the surrounding cover, he was quickly appraised at around the 22 inch length with a nice shape and his arrival then caused the spikey to move off a little distance to presumably safer ground. As the Fallow deer didn't take much of my attention no identification was made except that on my first view it appeared to be too bulky to be a little fallow doe, though surprisingly for its bulk no antlers were evident. My focus was of course on the sambar.
    After observing this group for 20 minutes slowly making their way up to the gully head and eventually then being hidden by the heavy cover I decided to leave them to themselves and headed off in another direction to a place in mind but not before watching another different hind cross the top of a steep hill on the dry side on her way to a sunny top, and as it was a cold morning with the bottoms very wet from the fog she had the right idea of course and being hopeful of a possibly bigger stag following behind her she was glassed for a while however that being fruitless my hunting continued. The fallow deer has never been sighted again.
    A few hours later had me scanning another wide basin with pockets of heavy cover and some open spurs and then at 11.30 am and in bright sunlight while walking the top of a reasonably open ridge something caused me to look down the steep hill and immediately I spotted an antlered stag. He was feeding in a small grassy clearing side on to me and visible from the last rib forward. The stag was at a distance of about 180 yards on an opposite spur, I eased myself down and whipped up my Steiners and could see he was in the mid 20`s or better, maybe a 26 plus incher and on turning his head it was very evident that he had a nice wide antler shape.
    Taking a few photos' at such a range will probably end up having a brown blob in the distance as the central point as my camera had only a 35-70 lens fitted, however it is all a memory prompt no matter how bad such photos may be and so a few were clicked off.
    Then slowly descending the hill towards him from behind and then around the cover of a heavily foliaged tree top below me he was then viewed from a slightly closer distance. A not altogether difficult shot was presented and I'm sure that a few years ago he would have been rolled but subscribing to the "let them go let them grow" theory at least in this case as he was already getting up there as a sought after trophy size and hopefully would only get bigger and heavier a shot was declined.
    Of course regretting the fact I had my Minolta 300 mm lens sitting at home in the safe didn't help ease the situation at all and then questions of why didn't this type of scenario happen to me over all those years of the sambar hunting learning curve?. I would have given anything in my early hunting days for such a chance. A mature antlered sambar stag feeding undisturbed in bright sunlight during his midday stretch is a real memory for any hunter I'm sure.
    On watching him feed for another ten minutes and then by sneaking down and across to 50/60 metres above him although then being screened by thick cover caused a doe roo to spring me from where she lay in her bed and as I was only after a better photo or two I decided to leave this stag alone also.
    When I got back to my original observation point I failed to sight him again but none the less was rather jubilant after such a great morning. Walking out back to the truck a "didn't fit" type of shape caught my attention and then after numerous closer inspections with the bino`s the shape turned into a young hind on the dark side of the gully just quietly sitting but with the usual ever alert ear and head turning movements of such a wary species. She was in the shade in possibly the coldest part of the basin ignoring the bright sunlight on the opposite side and being about 200 metres away from me in dark shade no attempt at taking a photograph was considered.
    Making my way above to my ute with the thoughts of "Hey what a great day" especially after having two sambar stags in my sights and observing a few other deer as well for the memory bank.
    Heading out of the bush for the trip back home and phoning long time mate George R. on returning there I told him of the deer that were sighted and that I would be out in the field the next day also. George had only just purchased a professional model High Definition Video outfit with all the trimmings at considerable cost with the eventual view to film wild deer so he announced straight off, "I'm coming too" so with a laugh at his self invitation I said "ok mate".
    He arrived from Werribee that evening excited to hear the news of the deer that had been sighted and the possibility of getting some of the deer on tape. The next morning after raining all night which didn't leave us with the best feeling as the bush would be very wet and not conducive to good videoing dawn saw us heading for the 22 inch stags gully and then in poor light having a hind honk us and with her big calf in tow run across a spur in front of us at sixty yards in the still breaking dawn light. Most likely they were the previously seen pair.A further five minutes walking had George alerting me when he spotted just below us the young 22 inch stag walking the game trail in the head of the gully.
    Videoing this stag as he made his way across the gully top with his head down and sniffing the track in front of him he was wet and dark from his wallowing and he headed into the thick cover of the gully head. He was at a closest distance of 70 metres below us during this time. We then sneaked back out of sight and then down around to a saddle below us to attempt some more videoing and the stag was then given a loud call. An unseen hind quickly answered with a loud honk and then to our surprise the stag actually came out of the heavy cover and in full view crossed a clear opening and slowly strode, almost strutting in that sambar stiff leg manner with tail erect to a patch of thick cover even closer to, though above us.
    He watched proceedings with a head high although laid back attitude standing side on from behind the foliage with his antlers, face, backline and tail only visible to us.
    Another call or two had the hind then come out of the heavy cover into the open and then repeatedly looking up at him and signalling him with tail lifting actions and him responding in kind with his own tail movements. Some of which included fully erect, straight out and straight out but with the last few inches curved down.
    The hind then called her calf out and she walked warily across the hill with the calf walking just above her towards the source of the call. It was a great learning curve for me to observe the almost telepathic way of communication between this group of deer and it all had suggestions of the stag actually sending her to source as a forward scout the origin of the calls that I was making. The tail especially at a half mast and bent attitude and the various other attitudes showed us how much it played in communication amongst sambar deer.
    We videoed and observed the group for 20 minutes or so and as the hind was now only sixty metres from us on a slightly higher level but across a shallow dip, we sneaked off the saddle unobserved as we didn't want her to find out that the noise was man made and thus make her too wary to respond to any calls in future visits. As the young stag will hopefully get bigger over the next few years and be a possible video star or wall hanger we were very happy with our morning's observation.
    Off to where I had previously seen the bigger stag, the same day had us videoing a spikey rubbing a tree limb below us in a heavily treed area and he had a hind in attendance. A couple of calls then had the hind in a real tizz, she appeared to not know what to do, bolting into the thick cover then sneaking back into the rub tree area, the spikey seemed less concerned however and both deer were seen repeatedly below us although mostly obscured by the cover. And then right on dark two more hinds appeared but at some distance on opposite sides of the basin and with now poor light we headed for home to review the video taken.
    Another evening hunt after work had me tired and even more so without seeing a deer at all until only a few hundred metres from my ute the fat calf previously sighted trotted up and across my path sky lining itself in the late evening light for the imaginary shot that I then took with rifle up and cross hairs on its shoulder.
    A second visit from Rod B. all the way from Phillip Island had us out for a hunt one evening. And then during walking a long spur we were sprung by three deer and subsequently honked at. Rod saw this group of deer and suggested that there "were some antlers amongst them" They bolted at speed down the spur and then split as their marks showed after being followed for 500 metres or so with Rod planting himself in a likely location to intercept a possible circling movement. Rod had been good enough to help me recover a small stag on his previous visit.
    The calf from this group was good enough for me to stand for a fully open view stalk for a photo opportunity at 80 metres until tail raised it trotted further down the spur and then a very watchful hind was seen standing on the opposite face at 200 metres. After taking a few photos of her with my 300 mm lens attached but not without difficulty in holding the heavy lens steady she was left alone. Another hind and calf pair was also seen by Rod as they were walking an open dry spur but unfortunately at a long distance.
    Daybreak the next morning had us on another site and looking at what we thought were two Hereford cows with a possible two deer behind them on an open flat below us. After much conjecture and solid scanning through the bino`s and with the light changing for the better the two cows were made out to be deer. There were actually five deer on the flat, which were identified to be to be hinds and spikeys, possibly a very small stag. Then a young stag with undetermined antlers appeared and followed the group into the creek and they were then swallowed up by the foliage as they climbed to their bedding areas.
    We hunted away from their basin so as not to disturb them and concentrated our efforts in a long nearby gully in the hope of finding more evidence of the resident stag that had rubbed along the spurs. Eventually splitting up and then rejoining Rod soon had a session of "what dja see mate" .Rod then recounted how he watched two hinds sunning on a dry spur for half an hour but no male deer were sighted at all. My offering was finding the location of a wallow that was left unapproached and viewed though the bino`s at 60 metres it appeared to have not been used for several days however.
    Another few days gone and with George having other hunting commitments the following week had me walking alone in the pre dawn light to an area above some wallow's far below to where I thought there may be a chance of spotting a deer or two as we had previously discussed the feeling that "there must be a big fella" there somewhere also. During the previous last couple of hunts we had found a fair amount of evidence of such an animal. Then suddenly an unseen deer honked while I was passing a thick under storied copse of trees which I later identified by her running marks when walking out to my truck to be a mature hind. Then slowly sneaking along the ridgeline towards my intended destination silently cursing the hinds warning honk I was amazed after that noise to sight below me the backline of what was a mature stag with his head down. "Bugger where is George with the video camera?" I thought straight off as this scene was as good as it gets.
    Snatching mouthfuls of feed he slowly walked the top game trail away from me. Slowly raising the old rifle and then looking hard to identify him was fairly tough as it was right after daybreak and with his head being down I wasn't convinced that he was a "good one" as the light and his dark body shape tended to obscure his near antler and I couldn't see much of the other antler either except a quick flash of his offside tips. He slowly made his way across the gully head away from me and never lifted his head once simply snatching feed as he went giving me concern about taking him size wise on the limited view available when I saw the long outer top on his near side convincing me then that it was too long to belong to a small antlered stag and as he was now a further forty metres away and still walking I sent a bullet from above and behind his left shoulder.
    The projectile exited through his offside shoulder into the hill side and the stag dropped instantly dead but to my alarm started to slide downhill for sixty metres until a tree arrested his slide. The very loud roar of the rifle seemed to echo on and on for miles, reverberating down the valley in the cold still air and I thought then that every bloody cockatoo from there to Tassie had been woken it seemed with their raucous screams all around me.
    Approaching cautiously from the downwind side and watching him for a few minutes making sure he didn't have a kick left to cause him to slide further I walked down and tied some hay band from my pack to a hind leg and the tree. My mind went to a previous occasion where a stag that was taken one evening cart wheeled a further 100 odd metres down a very steep hillside resulting in a much tougher retrieval. Not this time was the thought. After getting the camera out and then in still poor light after a few minutes of hunting reflection I could see then that he was a better trophy than first thought. Then doing a visual appraisal of his dark stained antlers which resulted in taking a few photos of which I'm hoping will develop correctly as the camera light metre suggested a very slow shutter speed and then of course the work of caping, butchering and carrying out began. The stag was a very solid animal and showing to be in "good nick" with the discovery of remnants of lacy caul fat over his paunch which reflected the great feed available in the area.

  2. #2
    SD Regular johngryphon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Victoria Australia Sambar country.
    Yes there`s more!

    Many, many scars, some unhealed, in fact they were all over his rump, sides and shoulders and even between his hind legs suggested that they were from a very recent "battle royale" with a hopefully bigger stag. The evidence had me thinking that it must have been a really titanic dispute and suggestions of a future hunt for his last opponent somewhere in the surrounding area quickly entered my mind as whatever had caused the scarring was certainly not the immature 22 inch stag but one of equal or greater strength and size.
    The scarring evidence showed that this had been no simple border dispute but probably an area takeover fight that must have lasted for quite some time. With his coronets fairly close to his skull but with his skull sutures open and very evident suggesting that he wasn't getting past his prime I cant quite work out his age or wether he was the stag attempting the takeover or defending against a takeover attempt. At a guess I figured he may have attained an age of possibly seven or eight years. All of his molars were sharp and unworn however and not worn down as others I have seen. A real rough, tough, heavyweight, his almost square head from maturity had none of the softer facial features of a much younger stag and he had the look of a real warrior of the past. No matter what it all seemed to me that he had been the loser and had been towelled up especially with the rear end scarring. Thoughts are many about walking the nearby dividing spurs in the hope of finding his battle ground and maybe shedding some insight into his last adversary's domain and to his whereabouts also. Memories from past hunting took my mind back to various other battlegrounds we had discovered while walking the spurs of the high country that had yielded all the evidence of such battles with heavy logs having been moved and trees of a seemingly impossible size having been snapped at their bases and laying in at times 30 metre diameter churned up areas.
    Taking the head, cape, rifle and daypack up to my Toyota and coming back with my old pack frame and bone saw which was then used to cut him down the spine to his last rib had me securing a quarter to the pack frame which was then strapped on and comfortably carried although with some uphill effort out to the truck with repeat journey's for the rest of him leaving only the badly damaged parts. Pack frames are of so much value to this sambar hunter and come highly recommended and of course there is no need to cut through a hip joint (and ruin good cuts of meat) for the task of recovering meat if a hunter is equipped with a bone saw.
    He isn't a monster with a longest antler of 29.5 inches and a little uneven with a shorter opposite antler but with good inners and plenty of weight in near six inch beams and 9 1/2 inch coronets, a nice important width of 31 inches and that identifying nearside outer top is a 14 incher. I was a happy hunter and the old 7mm mag had proven her worth again as the previous fortnight she had rolled the small stag which had taken the one shot also. The small stag had been taken as I had him cold in my scope right near an access track and couldn't ignore that fact or that the fridge had absolutely no venison at all in it…..sometimes a hunter has to look after his fridge too and also ignore the previously mentioned "let em grow" theory. His luck was out as he would have been left alone if not being near the track at all.
    The further inspection during the finishing of my stag`s cape at home showed that many shoulder scars were still freshly scabbed and after his hind quarters had hung unskinned from a black wattle limb for the next seven nights and on subsequently being skinned it was found that his hide had actually been penetrated right through by the antlers of his last opponent in quite a few places. This was evidence that I had never seen before on previous stags that we had skinned. This stag was by no means in the hard basket to have been taken for the wall without as much hard work as other deer have needed but you take the easy with the hard and I can truly say that I have seen quite a few memorable ginger rumps with antlers beating me time after time so yes he was an "easier one" but one has to be still out in the field in the right place and make the shot to take them.
    Further visits from George saw us both observing and filming many deer and then one morning in heavy fog at dawn a one antlered stag suddenly appeared out of the fog and stood front on silhouetted on the crest of a high grassy hill before us for a truly memorable scene. Although only with the one long good antler and some sort of indistinguishable growth on the opposite side which was difficult to identify he was a vision we won't forget as he stood there straight up silhouetted against the background of white fog listening to the sounds of his domain.
    Unfortunately the video camera not being ready the footage George subsequently obtained of him was not in silhouette but shows him coming down the hill against the dark background and certainly doesn't capture that magical moment when he had suddenly first appeared and stood like a sentinel. He must have had some sort of dominant presence as when he walked into the thick cover below him another stag around the 16/18 inch mark with a narrow bowed antler shape almost instantly bolted out in we presumed, fear of him although there was the possibility of this one catching a swirl of our scent. We haven't seen either stag since that morning although there have been repeated hunts to the same area. Maybe the stag with his one poor side showing is evidence of a damaged velvet head and hopefully it may be fully intact next year as his one good antler showed plenty of positives for him to be a future trophy stag.
    Another daybreak morning and not seeing any deer had us wondering where they were and as it was a wet morning we thought they may have been tucked up in sheltering cover when a small four point stag and a spikey appeared below us in a clearing on an opposite hill face at a distance of around 140 metres and commenced a pushing and sparring test of strength session which was filmed for five or so minutes and as it was the first time we had ever observed two sambar of any sex doing this we felt very privileged and fortunate hunters.
    Yet another day out in the field and leaving George at the head of a large basin to observe any possible proceedings had me sneaking into a long gully system next door and seeing two calves and one hind, one of the calves squeaked a little weak honk out with a tinny sound I hadn't heard before, this was answered by an unseen hind but then with only a fresh preaching tree as stag evidence and the wind swirling unfavourably I walked back to eventually find George by using my bino`s giving me the "get here quick" signal from high up on a ridgeline. On eventually reaching him he showed me a quick bit of video he had taken at long range, possibly 600 metres across the basin of a stag on the far hillside that had a watchdog hind in attendance and then telling me he was as a "wide one" and at least as long as my recent stag. We then sneaked to a nearby ridge overlooking the stag's bushy hill top and tried to work out a hunt approach for another day.
    The video I had just viewed in the field didn't convince me he was as good as George suggested but on returning home and reviewing it later on the bigger TV screen and in a slow motion skyline shot I sat up and said" bloody hell mate rewind!" and then could see he certainly had some antler length alright which of course is something to stir up any sambar hunter's blood. George also remarked that he was a "weighty one" also.
    All through the next few days even though my girlfriend was staying for the weekend all I could think of was hunting this stag (priorities right? yep! sorry honey) so I rang George and suggested he get his gear together and drag himself up to the rendezvous point as he also deserved to be there to hunt as well. I had the Tuesday morning set for a late work start enabling a dawn hunt for several hours.
    We watched a small four pointer feeding late on the Monday evening presumably the one previously sighted by us in the sparring duel and also one young hind feeding in a small clearing but no other stag of size.
    Raining all that night and with it still drizzling Tuesday morning we were a little annoyed but still out and heading for the big stags hill in pre dawn darkness and with fog around us we took a wrong turn but eventually got to where we thought could be a place to see him from if he kept to his previous walking pattern.
    Slowly sneaking into position had us stop about 15 metres apart with myself in front to view around the other side of some blocking under storey from a different angle when of course the inevitable sudden "honk" sounded and as George was above me he saw but couldn't identify the animal that subsequently bolted which we later presumed to be the same hind that was in attendance of the big stag he had previously videoed that had drawn us there. Suddenly a moment later in foggy dawn light a stag just materialised almost magically side on ready to cross the saddle floor we were sitting just above, he was fifty yards below me and he was looking up towards us, signalling George "don't move mate…. stag!" I raised my Steiners and even though at 8 x and such close range I could see he was big and deep chested but due to the fog couldn't make his complete antler size and shape out and as I couldn't identify him correctly and fearing he wasn't the one we wanted a shot was declined. Venison aplenty at home and not wanting to "stir them up" helped my decision to leave him.
    He was certainly dead meat at such range and broadside but that's the way it go`s at times. Still our plan had worked perfectly except for the nuisance fog stopping positive identification of our intended target stag. The stag honked and then trotted directly away from us calling but not honking a further four or five times as he went down the spur and although we waited another hour we observed nothing else other than a hind with her calf planted in the cover feeding on the opposite face at a rough judged distance of 4/500 odd metres until 9 am or so.
    Now the proverbial hit the fan with me starting my chores on returning home and George back out on an exploratory mission checking out another unexplored area until I could knock off that afternoon for a late hunt.
    During the course of these chores I was given a "good one" curtesy of one of the thoroughbred mares in my care, she drove her hoof home with such force into my hip that on x-raying at the hospital it showed a bone fragment knocked off my hip bone (no wonder it hurt so much) so at this moment after release from the hospital all I can do is wait for the healing process so we can go out hunting for "that" stag. Fortunately for me George was contactable by mobile and he got me into the hospital in quick time too.
    Hopefully on that note there will be a photo developed of my last stag and maybe another tale to tell, meanwhile I'm champing at the bit so to speak to have another crack at a "good one".
    A few details gear wise, my "old girl" is a Winchester XTR Mod 70 in 7mm mag resting on a Bell and Carlson camo synthetic stock topped with a Leupold 2 x 7 scope. Mainly being fed Winchester 150 grain factory rounds. These have been a truly successful bullet over my sambar hunting years along with the same at times in the slightly heavier 175 grain weight. The bino`s I use these days are superb Steiner Predators in 8 x 30 and come highly recommended for their ability in low light, value for money and their robustness and ease of use. A much valued gift from long time friend "Gilamonster" from New Mexico in the US. They are never left home when going out hunting. For many years I had ignored using any bino`s at all but now they are an indispensable part of my hunting gear.
    A week later and although being still sore had me out for a couple of hours to get some exercise and then finding some red hot marks of deer heading for their spur for a few sun rays to escape the very cold frost still evident on the ground. Not being willing to climb the spur, home was my next option.
    The big stag previously mentioned was still playing on my mind and a call to George had us agreeing to meeting for a hunt three days later. A brisk pre dawn walk to a nearby hill with the hope of spotting him had us sitting on heavily frosted ground overlooking the wide basin below which was a sea of impenetrable fog. As we were above the fog we only had the surrounding tops to scan and after two hours I decided to "go straight at him" or at least his bushy hill top. Although we didn't know for sure if he was indeed home this was an option for those of us that can't sit for long.
    George then moved a further distance to cover the back door saddle in case my presence disturbed the possible stag while I went along the saddle and commenced the climb to where we had been honked on the previous occasion.
    The following is a recount of the low mentioned in the opening paragraph.
    Sneaking slowly like a cat along the overgrown snig track I then made the mistake of climbing the low bank on the high side to enable a slightly higher view until coming to the crest of the hill confronting me were some two metre bushes in front of me and then at a later determined distance of 12 metres a big mature stag exploded right out of his bed with a honk from behind the bushes in front. Seeing the side on flash of him and his near side antler but no possible chance of a shot caused me to run several metres to the left and see him launch off the bank and head down the next saddle with my shot after him. The cover then instantly swallowed him much to my chagrin. This had all taken mere milliseconds to unfold and as later discussed George told how it was basically "HONK/BANG". If only I had stayed on the snig track I felt that I would have comfortably nailed him.
    Due to a large tree on the slight dog leg on the saddle floor which had the canopy of the tree shrouding it I only saw a mere glimpse of him but I felt the stag "had a wobble" during this glimpse.
    Going back behind me to wait the arrival of George we then started to track him with the hope of him staying away from the soon to be sun warmed dry side. One solitary drop of blood announced a hit then after 100 metres he turned for the dry side and then in his path he hurdled a downed tree about 1.4 metres high off the ground. Now this really concerned us as being indicative of bugger all major damage to his body.
    We followed his marks and the occasional blood spotting with difficulty down the crackly spur for several hundred metres and found where he had entered a gully head. Splitting up with George to cover the back door I then followed his marks where they changed to "running marks".
    "Bugger" or worse was in my mind but then by doggedly sticking too him and repeatedly back trailing to toilet paper signs hanging above his last mark the stag was thus followed for a total distance of a probable two kilometres. It was certainly no easy task and by now much lower down I was in 50 metre visibility fog and only by drawing on my years of hunting enabled me to find his marks ahead, often with the marks of other deer overlapping his and vice versa and with only the few drops of blood seen making these marks a positive I.D. this was how he was followed. At some time during this part of the search I heard the bark of which I'm sure was from an alarmed fallow doe somewhere opposite me in the fog, a further half dozen barks were sounded as it climbed a spur away from me. Being well away from the original fallow sighting area had me thinking that there "might be a few about" for a future look.
    Taking note of what were probably his fresh rubs he was tracked to a vast bracken flat on the floor of the gully and then repeatedly lost, when miraculously after many circling movements "Eureka" another spot of blood and a very faint print in the dust had me crossing a bushy creek and then finally losing him on the slight slope. The sun was now high and I had been on him for four hours and with a real &*%$#@ off feeling the slow climb out was taken where another hour later George and I met up on the top ridge. One set of a disturbed hind's marks were the only mark's seen during the climb out without any sighting of her at all.
    During the pain of a lost deer analysis and the belief that with the stag's reluctance to climb anything higher than a moderate slope and that he stayed low down my mindset was that yes he maybe hurt more than the blood evidence suggests though this is negated possibly by the fact that he hurdled the downed tree after the shot. Adrenalin, fear, confusion? Is this how he jumped the tree although wounded, during his escape? We won't know unless we catch up with him again.
    Crows or the smell of a carcase may betray his presence if indeed he is dead and there will be repeated searches for him or his carcase within the coming weeks. If and more if`s! If only I had my now retired old hunting bitch with me! If only I had stayed on the snig track! If only I had shot more truly!
    If he is only slightly wounded and the blood evidence suggests he is he will of course be further hunted hard throughout his range. Hopefully there will be good news in that time as the calibre of this game species certainly warrants the attention of much further searching. First search was four days later and work was started earlier that day to enable more time in the hunt for the wounded stag. 4 pm and then dropping in from up top to make the uphill breeze a better option saw me crossing the dry side. The crack and crunch of shaley gravel and twigs had to be ignored as only two hours of light were available and I wanted to cover a maximum amount of ground. Making my way across and down to where his last marks were followed to I found no evidence of him at all though on circling the bottom flats a fair sized hot stag mark was found in heavy cover along with quite a few red hot hind marks suggesting that they were already heading down to the feeding area ahead of me.
    Thinking "Ah one for the memory bank" suggestions of further but differently timed approaches to this area were pondered for a future hunt. Nothing suggested that the hot stag marks were from the animal that I had hit. Neither could I find a wallow or evidence of such as there is some mind thought that wounded stags will seek out their wallow's to lay in so as to relieve the heat of any pain.
    Then some hands and knees crawling through the "thick $%^&" yielded nothing of joy either and the long spur climb out option was taken with fading light closing in. A couple of slight detours to glass country on the other side of the spur yielded nothing in the way of deer sighting.
    Two hours of searching and not a deer had been seen with the only animal sighting's being a mob of `roo`s travelling across a dry spur and then an old wombat which stood and listened to my steps at only a few metres distance.
    A call from George has us set for another search in the next few days and by then it will be thirteen days since I took the shot at the lost stag, perhaps if he is indeed dead there may be the smell of decay to hone in on.
    The recently arrived August A.D.A journal from the Central Victorian Branch relates how a hunter found his dead sambar stag several weeks after initially shooting him so I am still holding hopes of finding mine.
    The end to it all re: the lost stag is that after more futile hunts of many many hours of searching, I am of the opinion that he was only slightly hit with a flesh wound and has survived his ordeal…good luck to him!

  3. #3

    Great write up. Sounds like some fantastic hunting! Do you have any pictures? Would be great to see and thanks for taking the time to do the write up


  4. #4
    Fabulous detailed write up. What wonderful hunting you must have..........

    Hunting a truely wild creature in equally wild places is what it is all about.

    Great write up, thanks for taking the time to put it all down on paper


  5. #5
    SD Regular johngryphon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Victoria Australia Sambar country.
    The big rough old stag from the farm fringe country.

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