I wrote this article for a New Zealand forum, and thought it might be of some interest here:
It all started one evening when Zeff Veronese pulled out his 50 cal black powder rifle. It was a beast of a thing, and boy did we have some fun with it. Massive amounts of noise, piles of smoke and the right sized projectile which smashed hunks of concrete 100 yards away from us. This looked like a fun challenge to supersede my bow and arrow challenge. I had a muck up with the bow which haunted me a little, so I haven't pointed one at an animal since.
Zeff put me onto a guy who had a rifle the same as his, so I gave him a call and went and had a look at the rifle. He wasn't too keen to part with it though, and told me I could use it for a while if I liked. I turned him down, I hate borrowing gear...cause that's the gear that will break and be a nightmare!
A year went by, and the rifle I was after (same as Zeff's) never popped up on Trademe or anywhere else I could find, so I gave the guy a call back. He bought it up for me, showed me everything he could, and off I went. It's not mine, but I am enjoying using it. It certainly stresses me out when a new scratch appears, but I am definately looking out for it, more so than if it were mine
The first day I got it out and played with it on the range, I could happily stick 5 bullets in less than 3 inch group at 100 yards, best group of 3 shots was 2", so I felt ready to head bush...which I did with Russ and his partner Erin that evening. I murdered two goats with it that night, and was hooked on the challenge.
Then another twist in the story happened...another rifle turned up on trademe. The "right" one too, 50 cal Thompsons Centre, Hawken Mountain rifle. Russ grabbed it within an hour of it going on trademe, so we both had identical rifles...now we needed a hunt, so Wallaby shooting we went.
We had a couple of mutts helping us locate the wallaby's, but heck did they prove a challenge with the old fashioned rifles!
One fell, after many misses and a very fun weekend
We were starting to get a bit low on projectiles after this mission, so Zeff helped us sort out a few more...400 we made in an afternoon!
Ready for some more hunting, I tried my luck on a fallow deer one damp frustrating afternoon, and managed one! It took a bit of finding though, and two shots. First shot went through it's neck and didn't kill it...an hour later after turning over the entire place I whistled another 380gr projectile through it's chest which did the job.
On the way out my hunting buddy Kurt flattened a hare with it at 100 yards, he too is in love with the blackpowder gun!
The next hunt was a very fun one, one old Zeff Veronese organised. A trip into tahr country, one which Russ and I both jumped at...and all three of us had the exact same gun! Although...some were a little more modified than others...
The top one was the one I had... Zeff was mid way and Russ was the Pussy of the trip
We had a hell of a time, I've never laughed so much as I did on that trip. Zeff was taking a film to put together and accused us of "Horse Play", well...did that start something! Made for some funny scenes, some far too inappropriate to ever be included in the film
All the jokes aside, the hunting part of the trip was unreal too. We learnt early on in piece that these guns did not kill as well as our conventional rifles. The first day, Russ and I both lost bulls hunting them in the scrub. Although we were less than 50 yards away and both had good hits on the shoulders, they both ran off and we could not find them in the scrub. After shooting this wee nanny square in the shoulder at 109 yards and she ran off... we decided we had to be close as hell and in areas where we could track them...not in thick scrub or Matagouri.
After a few more kills, our suspicions were confirmed... the bullets were just passing through the tahr. They left 50 cal holes on both sides, but not the damage that a 223 with soft points would even do. The energy was just not being transferred to the poor animals we were putting the bullets into.
The next mob of tahr we payed a visit we decided to sneak right up on. A stalk had us planned to getting to within 30 metres of them... but just after this photo... we found ourselves 3 metres from a tahr.
Russ ran forward and peered past the rock. The entire mob of 30 animals which were 10m the otherside of the rock took off...one hesitated...and it cost it it's life...not that it had had much of one
Russ copped a bit of flack for shooting the smallest tahr on the hill, but made up for it by flattening one at 200m the next day.
Zeff and I rushed up to put our smoke and lead in the air, and we both shot this nanny which was the first to stop and look back...so we had two Tahr for this stalk, and a few more laughs.
The next day Russ and I stalked into 10 yards of another mob while Zeff video'd from a distance, and I shot another young one...and of course Russ's 200m shot one was that day too. Unfortunately the SD card has failed...and I have no photos from the Sunday. I am hoping that Russ's ones came out well, and Zeff's video should be pretty good too I hope...either way, the scenes are well etched in my head which is good enough!
What a weekend!
All the meat came home. Russ threw the last nanny on the top of his pack which weighed about 50kg The students in us saw the value of the meat...so none was wasted!
The next hunt was this last weekend. And probably the most rewarding yet.
My old hunting buddy Gareth has been living in Australia for the past 8 years. He moved back to NZ last week, and was keen as for a hunt before he started work. To get a couple of spare days off, I had to get the work done on the farm...which included a long day injecting 3000 ewes and putting them out in their blocks...I had blisters by the end of it, but the very worst thing happened...a stubborn ewe tried to beat me and crashed into my hill stick...breaking it. I was PISSED off. My hill stick goes everywhere with me. With no time to go look for another manuka pole, I settled for the fact that I was going without a stick...that was until I saw my girlfriend Anna's, Fathers rake in my garage. The rake head was left at home, but I had me the straightest and lightest hill stick I've ever used.
I'd been wanting to head to this DoC block for months and months. I found a route in there on foot, so off Gareth and I went...a walk to break Gareth back into the hills. Well, after trudging up a river for 3 hours, I pointed him at a ridge. He was haggered by the time we found somewhere to put the tent, but we were in heaven. Gareth was armed with my 30.06, and I was carrying the black powder rifle. We stalked an 8 point stag that evening, to 100 yards...but before I could find a good place to shoot from in the scrub with the blackpowder beast, the young stag gave us the slip.
We glassed hard that eve and saw a few deer, most of which were stags. We noted that two old looking mature stags were already missing their antlers, and only young stags were still intact. Gareth, keen to murder a stag after 5 years of not shooting one opted to wait for something he'd happily put on his wall, and instead we thought we'd try get the muzzleloader it's first bit of bone.
Gareth glassing, in heaven
Things could not have worked out better when the action did happen. We were walking along the ridges looking into the basins, seeing marks but no animals when all of a sudden midway across a scree movement caught my eye. I quickly saw it was a stag and halted Gareth. We were stuck out in the open, so all we could do was slip our packs off and watch. The stags continued feeding up the gut, to 175yards away. We could see one had an ok rack, better than Gareth had ever shot before...so he loaded the 30.06 while I got my camera out.
Before Gareth shot, I had the idea to sort out my Muzzleloader, just in case the other stag happened to run up towards us. I sat the muzzleloader beside me and filmed Gareth take the shot
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I then put the camera down, and picked up the muzzleloader. It couldn't have worked out better. The young stag ran up the gut, and stopped to look over his shoulder. He was now 115 yards away, and I made no mistake placing the whopping 50cal slug through his lungs! He ran back down past his mate, but made it no further than 50 yards further down the gully than the bigger fella.
Gaz was all smiles with his head too!
We stayed another night on the hill. Saw some more deer and a few chamois, then yesterday we walked out. Damn it was a long way with heads an meat in our packs!
I'm having fun with this blackpowder challenge! I want to shoot a pig and a chamois with it next...but am stuck until after lambing now...oh the reality of life. It gets in the way of the more important things.