Members, as I did for 2012, I thought I would post again some pictures and short reports on my hunting trips from 2014. 2012 was an amazing year and I have been fortunate this year to have also been very lucky with some great hunts and trips to friends that I have met through the hunting industry. I will also post a couple of memorable pictures of trophies that some of my clients took in the UK. Also a monster Sika stag that my very good Croatian friend took in Ireland, when he came crashing to 25m I must say I was glad he was a very good friend, as you will see its a beauty! I never got round to posting a report in 2013 so I will also post some pictures at the bottom from 2013.
To start with, I was invited in January to hunt with a good Swedish client who had visited the UK several times with me accompanied by his son. We hunted for two days, driven hunting Wild Boar and Fallow (on the first day). I had an amazing first day with 5 fallow and 3 wild boar. One nice mature Keiler about 130kgs, genetically they aren't known for their huge tusks in Sweden so not the biggest tusks but nice and think due to his age.
Then it was onto Croatia I spent most of February back and forth here, looking after clients and helping out with the end of season driven hunts. I shot this nice Mouflon ram on a driven hunt.
I then organised a small hunt for a couple of clients, myself and a good friend. We shot a few boar and I also shot a nice fallow buck, running full speed dodging the oaks & beeches as he went it was a great sight to see him pile up on the shot.
After a crazy couple of months in April & May with Roe Buck clients I was shattered, then when normally I could put my feet up and relax for June it was going to be the complete opposite. I had a client over in December that had a great trip here and we spoke about some hunting in NZ, being a professional guide in Alaska for a number of years when he offered to take me hunting Thar & Chammy on the west coast I just couldn't say no. Having arrived a few days early in the North Island with a friend who joined me, we decided to head to the South early and look for a red stag each. My friend took a nice stag that was 10kg on the first day and on the morning of the second after a long stalk I took a very European looking stag. He was a little lighter although nice and long in the beam at 9kgs.
Then we met up with my Kiwi friend, it was time for the real deal. I can promise you, yes Scotland can through some nasty weather and some steep hills / mountains but what we saw on the West Coast was unreal. We had drawn a permit to hunt a specific area and we flew in by helicopter, that was fun, squeezing 3 people plus a pilot and your gear for 4 days in the mountains with temperatures down to - 10 at night into a small chopper well let's say you felt every bit of wind there was and on that day there was hardly any. I was lucky enough to shoot 3 lovely bull thar when I was there, I managed to get a photo of the first however the second two, I never got photos of before caping. My phone didn't like the cold so much. It was all seriously tough, I am young and still play rugby most weekends and a pretty decent level, but at times I wondered what the hell am I doing. The last climb down after climbing above the tree line to shoot my 2 thar on the last day took over 3 hours in the pitch black with just a tiny head touch and was brutal, I have honestly never been so exhausted, when I crossed the river back to camp, not only was I sodding cold from the water but every step was a challenge. Anyway it makes it memorable I guess, would I do it again actually probably not it was that bad and at times dangerous. I will take my risks somewhere else I think. I would post a picture of the state of my backside so you can all have a good laugh but it probably would be classed as "inappropriate".
Then after that physical ordeal it was off to hunt Chamois. My friend was broke so I climbed with the kiwi on the first afternoon and shot a youngish chamois buck. It wasn't a monster by any stretch but it was a representative Chammy and having taken a couple of nice ones in Europe that was my goal, to get a NZ Chammy. My friend shot a giant though, god I wished he had climbed the first day :-). I saw some others but nothing that really made me jump and I was happy with what I had. Excuse the crap picture, this was back at my friends place and is just to show the trophies I know it's less than beautiful.
Anyway back to the South Island, I had booked a hunt with my friend to hunt Manchurian Sika with a guy who had been recommended to me. We were due to hunt a long way out in the wilderness but he had problems with his lease. Therefore we hunt near Taupo however having experienced NZ at its toughest I wasn't so fussed about venturing a little lower in the mountains! I shot a very nice 9 point Sika and also a real old boy that was a great stag on the last morning at 20m. It's always exciting when you come so close to these great animals. So there it was NZ done, me done and back for some rest in the UK.
Over the summer I took a couple of nice mature roe bucks as and when I got the chance to get out and had a couple of nice ones in September towards the end of the season. All the big ones went to the clients this year, a couple of which I will post later.
After the Roe rut in the UK and another crazy few weeks I headed back to Croatia to try for a buck or two and some boar. The Roe were just at the end of the rut and the boar were starting their annual destruction of the maize. I have posted already on the monster boar I shot. However I was also lucky enough to take two nice Roe Bucks, one was a little young but came out as we were doing a push in the maize for the boar, the shout of Shoot Alex from the manager was all I needed. The other was a really nice mature buck, it will make bronze and as you can see is a beautiful representative of a buck.
I had planned to go to Romania to hunt wolf in September but after a royal F**k up by Easy Jet at Gatwick neither my clothes or my rifle arrived therefore we quit the idea of shooting a wolf as without the right clothes rifle I didn't fancy freezing to death and missing! Therefore we hunted a couple of days for roe bucks and I shot an ok representative again in my opinion could have done with another year or two but they wanted me to shoot so I did.
Then it was my dream, I had the call from a friend who has a lot of stalking in Dorset. I actually happened to be in the area at the time visiting the taxidermist I use Paul Taylor. My friend said he had a client turn down a great Sika stag, million % silver and probably gold. Now for this guy to say that, and he has shot plenty of big Sika and also guided on plenty too over the last 30 years I thought ok it must be a good one. I have always dreamed of taking a gold Sika, not just because I want to shoot a "gold" trophy but because they are so rare and therefore wanted the challenge of getting that elusive monster. After 3 days of sitting all day everyday in his territory (it was the start of the rut and sometimes you can catch them feeding in the area he was during the day? I shot him literally minutes before dark, it was so dark when I shot it was verging on the legal hour, I don't think you get that close very often to that time. However he appeared on the right grass background and with his unmistakable size of frame and antlers (I could just see white tips and long way above his head), I squeezed off and he took off into the dark. After waiting some minutes I headed over and smelt him in the grass as I got downwind as I never saw him drop, he was certainly already "rutty". Interestingly he had a badly broken back leg which was healed and about 3/4 inches shorter than his other which I would have expected to through more abnormalities in his antler growth however not just a beautiful stag. 259 points. The dream was achieved!
My love for Sika stalking is crazy, my dog is called Sika and I would probably name my child Sika if I could. I am fortunate enough to be part of an exceptional syndicate for Sika in Wicklow Ireland. I went this year with a very good friend from Croatia who I had promised to expose to the fun and excitement of hunting Sika stags in the rut. Before the trip the weather had been unusually warm and speaking to some of the guys out there very little was happening. However we were well into October and a couple of days before we went the temperature dropped and when we arrived the rut kicked off with a bang. I whistled one old mature 7 pointer in on the first evening to a wallow. The next morning my friend shot his giant. I called early one morning in an area I always knew there was deer. It was still pretty much pitch black but I just wanted to see if I could get a response, sure enough I got a single moan squeal back from a stag. I left it 5 and challenged again I wanted to know exactly where he was. He called back again. Ok I had a pretty good idea where he was, right in the middle of some thick fir. There is a 5m track in the middle but only about 100 long so wind kind of ok we sneaked into this little opening. We sat against the end of the opening and I called, both challenging then moaning. I gave it everything. I normally wouldn't call like this because it was so aggressive and a young or even middle aged stag would have run a mile, however I saw a monster run across the road here last year at the end of the rut and I hadn't heard of it being shot so I had a gut feeling it maybe him. After calling for about 5-7 minutes I had a huge break of a branch, if there was reds in the area I would have said it was a red. I kept calling but he wouldn't come. I was conscious of how the mornings run away from you quickly with Sika and after another 5 minutes or so nothing. I said ok let's go. As I stood up the stag let out an alarm call. I turned around and moving to our left through the trees was a stag. We moved a little and then he turned in some open trees towards the thick. I screamed again and he turned to look back once more. Luckily my friend is a serious hunter and very sharp, he took the stag under the chin off sticks in a nano second. I knew it was a good stag but when I got to him, I had never seen anything like it. Symmetrical, long and massively thick. For any hunter around the world a world class trophy! After that, we spend a few more days hunting pretty relaxed about everything before my friend flew back home. Then I had a couple of days to myself. I had one close call with the same stag two nights in a row and real old boy who just wouldn't come out the thick with his hinds. Then on my second last morning, I went to a place were I called a stag in last year but never saw him just heard him. I went to this area and called nothing but sat for a bit. Then I heard a stag moaning down the bottom of the forest. I hadn't been down there so I thought I would go and explore. He was moaning every few minutes so I got with 100m or so quite quickly, but with visibility of only 25/30m in the thick I had to go slow. When I got to within 50-60 I suddenly realised that there were two stags one at 10 o'clock one at 2 calling and holding hinds. I was in the middle I couldn't have been any better place. I let out a moaning squeal of my own and crashing came this beauty. A big old boy on a mission, I shot him at less than 20m. It's just the most exciting hunt for me at such close quarters. Whilst a waited to let him expire, the other stag was still calling, less than 100m away but I was so happy I just sat and listened enough for now. Amazingly this stag also had a broken back leg which had healed but did throw and abnormal head. If he had been symmetrical with his good side he would have made silver, but I was over the moon with an awesome hunt and great abnormal trophy.
In November I went to visit a client / friend in Colorado. I drew a mule deer tag and got a bull elk tag over the counter. We had a great location even though it was public land, the hunting was tough as the elk were still very high because of the warm weather. However we saw lots of mule deer. I took a nice representative buck after a good stalk late one evening. Again apologies about the picture phone issues again.
Lastly I shot another beautiful boar in croatia, from the stand another one of my European passions.
Another exciting year with some great trophies. Below are also a couple of exceptional trophies clients shot.