New tactics to defeat the Reds


Well-Known Member
On a trip to the hunting block a few months back, the wife and I spent about 10-12 hrs practicing shooting steeply down slope, using special A3 targets that the wife made up in InDesign, plotted to the scale of a red hind / spiker. The targets represented the neck / shoulder kill zone as seen from either steeply above. We wanted to prove the rangefinder’s HCD (in Vortex speak), i.e. angle compensation, which was absolutely spot on. Combined with chrono’d velocitys and Strelock Pro, we had a winning formula.

So, the reason we did this slope shooting practice? Change of tactics, that’s why. We had identified a specific location that the deer had decided they were safe-ish, where they were well away from bike tracks, close to the bushline, had the wind in their faces, and were within a short downhill stroll to nice fresh autumn feed. One of the lads had reported a big mob of red hinds and spikers repeatedly coming out of the bush at night in the northern most paddock, a ***** of a place to hunt due to the gradient, almost perfect bowl shaped drainage and the prevailing wind blowing from behind an approaching hunter coming from below. The only option was to get above the bushline, behind the deer, and shoot steeply downhill into the breeze. Its hard to describe just how perfect this position is for deer, much easier to experience it in the flesh, if you’re a hunter experienced or otherwise, you’ll marvel at how these animals have worked out how to get a free feed.

I used my 6.5 Creedmoor with 143gr ELD-X and the wife used her .243 Win with 100gr ProHunters. Angles were typically -25 to -30°, range was between mostly 200-300m. We both shot comfortably to within ~0.75MOA as usual, often less, there not being any wind to speak of.

(We are very lucky with wind at our block, its usually dead calm or gentle breezes that you can shoot between, with properly windy days being few and far between. If it’s blowing hard it’s usually only an issue at the higher elevations. But generally speaking, if it’s blowing hard, we don’t hunt anyway due to the guaranteed certainty of being winded by the deer, as the wind blows up and around the sides of the the basins in any which way it bloody well feels like, often backwards.)

Most hunts, there’s an opportunity to take a good animal, either well above, or well below the shooting position. Problem is always recovery, how to get the animal to the bike. Can the animal be safely reached and boned out on the slope and packed out? Dodgy knees, bad backs and risk of a cardiac event notwithstanding. The best option therefore is (usually) to shoot across the gully, waiting for the chosen animal to browse its way quite close to a half decent contour track on the opposite side, ideally a little ways above it. Either a game track that you can safely walk out on with a heavy load, or best of all but rare, a proper old cockie’s track that you can get the bike onto without careening off down the slope, and dying. This is why we spend so much time practicing shooting deer at 250-600m. Because otherwise, we just can’t get them out on our own.

The red deer numbers are very high at the moment and there’s been a big increase in fallow too. The last 12 months of hammering the goaty pestilence has paid dividends as goat numbers are definitely down and acceptable. So bottom line is we must control numbers, but in the spirit of fair hunting. Deer must only be shot for recovery, though the odd loss to an out-of-control roll downhill is acceptable, it happens, like maybe 1-in-10. Goats can be shot where they are and left, for the pigs. The pigs are precious to our pig hunting partners, but they are downright evil and have claimed eight dogs in the last two months between our two main pig hunters... Yes. You heard right. Eight.

Unfortunately on the second day of the subsequent trip, I dropped the rangefinder while fording the river on the bike. ********. So that put paid to anything other than close in stalking, which was fun but bloody hard work in the steep country. I posted some photos of that trip about a month ago. Anyway... This time round - new rangefinder and all - its been a quick in and out trip to install a new Engel fridge and add another solar panel on the roof to power it. I had an arvo to myself yesterday to head up the hill and see if I could put my slope practice to good use.

So, yesterday. About 30mins before sunset, from an elevated knob looking downslope and across into the cleared country, with the wind in my face (the key variable), I lay down in the soaking mud and waited to see what would come out. Had been there maybe 9-10 minutes... then suddenly it was all on, spoilt for choice, a dozen spikers and hinds emerged together, walking along the fence before casually jumping over vaulting the fence. They are extremely cunning, this behaviour will not happen lower down or on the other side of the block, because the deer know they don’t have the advantage of gradient, wind direction or proximity of cover. For the deer to be happy, they must have the wind coming from below them, with the bushline a short sprint away above them.

Not having had any pressure the past few weeks, they were straight to business, heads down and feeding away. I selected the nearest heavy spiker, ranged him at 326m with HCD, which gave me 1.3MRAD up. Then I checked the slope gradient by setting the rangefinder to line of sight, -27°, which gave me the same dial-up in Strelock. Just to be sure. The advantage of time on your side... Then it was a simple matter of watching and waiting. He browsed across the slope, getting no closer or farther away, as soon as he faced me and put his head to the floor... the 6.5 delivered an instantaneous one way ticket to my freezer. He didn’t move more than 6 inches. BANG. FLOP.

Onto terminal ballistics. This animal was shot through the top of the spine above the front line of the foreleg, down into the front of the chest / rib cage. The entry wound was tiny, not discernible without skinning. There was no apparent exit wound, though I knew in advance that the vertebrae had taken a full impact so I expected fragmentation.

After removing backstraps and hindquarters for humans, and forequarters and neck meat for my doggy mates, I opened up the rib cage and hunted for the bullet and found it lodged in the brisket. The spinal column, front of the lungs, autonomic plexus and arteries were toast. The photos show a completely separated jacket - the lead is totally gone. In this instance, with a solid bone strike at about 2200fps, I’m pretty happy with that. In country like this, where a short run or even severe post-death nervous twitches can result in a long uncontrolled downhill descent, it pays to take your time and work hard to bang flop your quarry so it stays put.



Well-Known Member
Great write up Dodgy. I've shot red hinds in Scotland on steep ground. On one occasion my partner had to lie on my legs in order to stop me sliding down the hillside. Great fun. About half the distance of you shot though, good work.