I arrived in Darwin in the early hours of Sunday morning & while I was waiting for my rifle cases JB arrived to pick me up. We rolled back to his place & hit the swag at around 3am then up at 06.30 to finish loading the gear in the ute, hook up the trailer with 2 quads loaded & wait for his mate Laurie to turn up with the other 2 quad bikes loaded on his trailer.
We hit the road soon after headed to a property that JB had been to before & had yielded good results, once we left the main road the going was slow & steady for the heavily laden utes & trailers not long after a river crossing Laurie looked in the mirror the started to pull over, "trailer tyre looks a bit flat" he said & sure enough we had a look, one flat tyre. We grabbed the Jack from the Hilux & one of the 2 spares from the trailer & changed it & were back on the road pretty soon. Soon after we heard a strange noise coming from the trailer again & on inspection feared that we had done a wheel bearing but it turned out that the brake linings on one of the axles had come apart so we removed the linings & springs etc, isolated the drum & again back on the road to catch up with JB & Peter waiting for us at the turn off to the property a few K's ahead.
As we made our way down the rough station track a soon to be familiar call came over the UHF "Horses, Horses" as a small mob broke through the scrub on our left, JB & Peter piled out of his ute with their rifles in one hand & a loaded mag in the other, they moved into the scrub looking for a clear shot once they had loaded their rifles JB got the first clear shot & his Tikka 6.5 drew first blood for the trip with a 90m shoulder shot that put the horse down, Peter took a shot with his Styer Scout .308 put they were over a 100 meters away in the trees & he had no luck.
We headed on to find the camp site that was under a shady tree along side of a creek that was our home for the next week. We spent the rest of the day setting up camp (complete with a gas fired hot water service for the shower!) The area we were in had had a lot of late season rain so the grass was still long & there was plenty of water, so the pigs were going to be hard to find but JB was hopeful that we would get on to some.
The only thing that was off limits were Buff on this property but Pigs, Donkeys & Horses were fair game, on Monday morning we loaded the quads with extra water, fuel , lunch & snacks for the day & all headed out as a group to get the lay of the land. The plan was to follow the old station track & check out likely pig haunts while shooting whatever Donkeys & Horses we came across with the view to use some of them as pig baiting stations. Soon after we left camp the call “Donkeys” came over the UHF. Peter & I were following JB & Laurie when we caught up we could see a small mob standing in the scrub about 80m away JB had his 7600 in .358 out & Laurie his M10 .308, I grabbed my 7600 .308 and Peter his Styer Scout .308, soon the sounds of 4 rifles chambering rounds closely followed by a volley of shots left half a dozen ferals dead. We were off to a good start, we dragged them all to one spot with the quads & hoped the pigs would like our offering!
We continued to follow the track crossing some hairy creek crossings & rough ground that opened the eyes of the 2 inexperienced quad bike operators in the crew as to the capabilities of these amazing machines. While I had some quad experience it was nothing compared to the Boys from the NT while this was Peter’s first time on a quad he was doing Ok. After a few more encounters’s with some small mobs of horses & Donkeys we arrived at a Creek system that looked promising for pigs. The Map showed the track crossing the creek but it had been washed away so we found a spot to drop down into the creek, as I had to answer the call of nature Laurie decided to drop down into the creek to recce a place to exit on the opposite side & see if there was any pig sign while the others waited for me, shortly after Laurie’s laid back tone crackled across the UHF “ No crossing yet but a bloody big Pig” I wandered back to where we left the bikes & the others were gathered on the bank of the creek about 30m away so I wander over to see what was going on only to see Laurie standing over a Bloody big boar that he jumped while riding along the creek bed & shot while he was running up the bank, I hadn’t even heard the shot! The boar was in prime condition & had a great set of tusks after the photos JB & Laurie cut the bottom Jaw out and we headed back to the bikes as Laurie climbed out of the creek bed the way he when down & we all continued along the creek looking for a likely crossing point.
We pulled up a little way down at a likely point, when JB shouted to me “Bill bring the .300” so I grabbed my Vanguard .300 Win Mag from its bag on the back of my quad & 3 rnds for the magazine when I got there JB pointed out a pair of donkeys standing under a small tree on the far bank of the creek I estimated they were around 280 – 300 meters away, I quickly loaded the .300 & looked for a tree to rest on, wound the scope up to 9x while JB grabbed his Tikka 6.5, as we watched through the scopes the Jack stepped away from the tree & presented me with a perfect broadside shot, I put the crosshair on top of his shoulder then dropped it down a bit took a breath , slowly let it out , squeezed the trigger & sent a 200 grain Nosler Accubond on its way, as I recovered from the recoil I saw the donkey turn & blood was pouring from a large exit wound as he collapsed I quickly reloaded and located the other donkey that had moved to the other side of the tree and was a bit hard to see I took a shot but missed and as she moved again I managed to get a shot behind the shoulder that put her down.
JB had been watching through the scope on his Tikka and was going to put a finisher in but he could not see her from where he was so he moved to his left about 2 meters to but there was no rest so he took a shot Off hand at over 200m & she went down. Where did you aim JB someone asked as there wasn’t much that we could see, Head replied JB.
We reloaded then remounted the Quads and made our way down into the creek bed ,the going in was Ok but the exit was a bit hairy and took some shovel work to make it usable the 2 NT boys lead the way out of the creek and onto the flat ground when the call came over the UHF “Horses” we all fanned out about 100m from a mob of over a dozen horses as they took flight Laurie dropped the lead Mare with a well placed shot from his M10 and the mob wheeled in confusion then we all got stuck into them rifles cracked & horses going down all over the place I finished the 9 rnds in my mag and quickly reloaded putting back up shots into a couple that I had hit a bit far back or not hit as solidly as I would have liked. We all reloaded & returned our rifles to the racks on the quads in the preferred condition - chambers empty with a loaded mag in place. Then JB rode in and finished those that needed it with his 7615 pump action in .223, 14 ferals where accounted for in this encounter.
We then wandered down to where the donkeys that we shot from the other side of the creek lay and the Jack I shot through the shoulders had a very impressive exit wound from the 200grn Nosler when we checked out the jenny we found the 200 grn projie had passed though as well but had not hit anything too solid, the hit was fatal but would have taken a while to bleed out when we rolled her over we found the left eye missing the head a bit mushy but still intact this was from JB’s finishing shot with the 6.5, pretty impressive shooting off hand at over 200m!
We spent the rest of the day checking spots on the map that looked likely pig spots, found plenty of water in the larger creeks and plenty of sign that there were heaps of pigs but they were not keen on revealing themselves to us! The country was awesome with some stunning scenery, throughout the day we continued to bump small mobs of donkeys & horses. We were pretty buggered when we hit camp just before sundown but after a few cool drinks (Dry camp due to being on Aboriginal land) and a shower we got stuck into the serious decision of the day, what to have for tea, chicken schnitzel was it cooked on the bbq with some carrots, & spuds as well as a few tinned veggies topped with cheese & diced tomatoes, it was the first of many filling & delicious meals we had in under the balmy night sky.
Day 2 - saw us head out in pairs in different directions, Pete & Laurie headed to the country we looked around the day before while JB & I headed in the other direction. We found a place to cross the creek that was pretty steep going in & needed some shovel work then headed off to a creek system that JB had been to before for with great success, we crossed a floodplain that where the grass was pretty light but that soon changed as we hit the creek system the grass was tall & thick as we pushed along the creek banks avoiding washouts we saw one Boar but he was gone before I could get my rifle, we dropped down into the dry creek beds a few times but with no luck despite the sign all around.
We pulled up under a large fig tree for a break & enjoyed the silence while the Quads where turned off, when we went to take off again my bike the oldest of the 4 would not start. Seemed the battery was flat but that was strange as JB has just had the alternator rebuild a few weeks before, so we checked it out pulled the battery terminals off gave them a clean up then screwed them back down, crossed our fingers & pressed the starter, fortunately she roared back to life. After pushing through a whole lot more thick grass the temp light came on so I pulled up in the shade & got JB on the UHF. All of the bikes have been fitted with a large extra cooling fan & if they over heat then something is usually wrong! After some diagnosis JB determined that the large fan was not working & it looked like one of the wires to it had been pulled out by something so he reconnected it but no go, so we took the rack off the front to get at the fuse & relay only to discover the fuse had melted in the fuse holder. Fixed that & bolted the bike back together jumped on & Guess what... It would not Start! Tried the battery terminals again but no go this time so we figured the Alternator was not charging as it should be & decided we should head back to camp so we started JB’s bike then took the battery out , put in mine then put my battery in JB’s bike and set course for camp. When we got to the creek crossing the steep exit beat me & I stalled the bike half way up, when I went to start it…Nothing! The alternator had not maintained the battery from JB’s bike, so we rolled it back into the creek and JB took his battery out to take back to camp to charge up while I set out to walk the couple of Km’s back to camp hunting along the creek as I went.
I stopped for a breather (& to answer natures call again) after a while at a very likely spot unfortunately no pigs to be seen but a I shouldered my day pack movement up on the bank caught my eye as I looked around a large red/brown stallion was watching me as I turned he retreated back into the grass I carefully picked up my rifle then stepped in behind a tree to my right and watched him and realized there were others up there as well but he had sensed some danger and was keeping them away, I kept watching for a clear shot and after about 10 or 15 minutes he decided that the water could wait and started to lead the small mob away, as he did so he broke cover & exposed his left flank a quick shot using the tree as a rest put a 150 core lock from my 7600 behind his ribs at about 60 – 70m and he went down I quickly racked another round into the chamber and headed up the bank as I started up the bank he struggled to his feet and I put another round through his shoulder that put him down again he was still trying to get up so a head shot finished him off for good, as I looked crested the bank the three mares he had in tow had stopped and one was looking straight at me around 50m away a offhand shot put a core lock between her eyes for a spectacular bang flop. A bit further out the 2 smaller mares took flight & I nailed one through the shoulders that put her down but hit the last a bit too far back so I moved to a small tree close by so I could take a steady head shot to finish her off. I wandered back to where the stallion lay in the grass to take some photos but he had pumped massive amounts of blood & was a real mess so took a photo of bang flop instead.
I reloaded & started heading toward camp not long afterward heard a quad in the distance so I walked up onto the bank & hailed JB and Laurie as they were heading out to retrieve my quad from the creek I was surprised to see Laurie as it was still early in the afternoon, how did things go I asked. Not bad he said no pigs but a couple of large mobs of donkeys plus a few horses but Peter had a bit of an accident.
Just when he thought he was getting the hang of it on some open & clear ground he clipped a stump and flipped the quad, fortunately he got away with scrapes & bruises but the bike was unrideable with some damaged suspension parts. They doubled up & made their way back to camp slowly & got a few more donkeys along the way. Not long after I got back to camp the boys turned up with the other 2 quads after some discussion it was decided that we would take the parts needed to get the other bike mobile off the bike I was riding as that was unusable anyway. That job was started that afternoon.
Day 3 - JB finished stripping parts from the quad and we distributed 3 lots of gear over the 2 quads the 3 of us headed off while Pete stayed in camp nursing his aches and pains with thoughts of walking the creek if he felt up to it later in the day. We ran into a mob of donkeys after a while & Laurie who was driving the quad I was on jumped off & left JB and me to it I was using my LTR & had filled 2 of my AI mags with 130 grn HP’s from TBF. We pulled up about 80m from the mob & got into them JB’s .358 making short work of a couple, I put the crosshair on the shoulder of a heavy jack and put him down then dropped another that needed a finisher from JB’s .223. When we rolled the jack over the 130 grn stayed inside as I suspected it would if we had more time we were going to look for the bullet but we had a quad to get mobile again.
After a quick stop to stalk a soak that was being used regularly by a large pig we arrived at the damaged quad & after a couple of hours of sweat & swearing got it mobile again albeit not tracking as straight as it should be!
Ok JB said let’s see if we can find some pigs as we set course for a likely looking creek system this proved to have plenty of water in it & no fresh sign so we headed off to the next one along, this one was dry and after finding a suitable spot to drop into it I followed Laurie down into the dry creek bed, one of the many highlights on this trip was riding along these dry sandy creek beds it was great fun. Laurie found a spot to get up on to the opposite bank and we set out along the creek, a few minutes later I saw a familiar shape tucked in under the left side of the creek bank, my brain suddenly kicked into gear…Pig! I jumped on the brakes and grabbed my LTR from the front rack and chambered a round as I shouldered my rifle the pig took off down the creek bed I looked through the scope & just saw a black blur fired a quick shot but missed I quickly reloaded and took aim again this time I could see the pig a bit better & put a 130 grn HP in behind it’s ribs but it took off up the bank on JB’s side and couple of quick shots from the .358 stopped the show. I climbed up the bank and found JB standing over a very large Sow in excellent condition, as I headed over I looked at my scope & found that I still had it set on 7x after brassing up some donkeys earlier!
After photos & a drink we headed off again but the creek bed became impassable so we decided to check out the mob of horses that we got the first day & see if there was any pig sign or hopefully pigs feeding so we headed for the crossing we used on day 1 the exit being a steep sandy bank with a washout right alongside when we got there Laurie led the way followed by me then JB, but guess what fool faltered half way up and slid the bike into the wash out…Yep me. It slid gracefully into the washout and the LTR nearly gave me the smack in the mouth I deserved. We tried towing it out with Laurie’s bike but it was not quite powerful enough so JB backtracked and found another crossing then we hooked his bike on & managed to drag mine out of the wash out enough to roll it back into the creek bed.
After we had a breather and drinks it was getting late in the day so we decided to head for camp and check the horses the next day. On the way back we managed to bump a few more small mobs of donkeys and horses. I was at rear of the group hanging back out of the dust when I heard the call over the UHF “donkeys” by the time I had caught up I pulled up alongside Laurie under the shade of a nearby tree while JB was finishing of the mob of 6 that he jumped with the .358 a couple needed .223’s to finish but basically it was 6 donkeys for 6 rounds to the .358. Laurie grinned and said “didn’t even have time to get my gun out” The sun was setting as we got closer to camp and we stopped to take some photos of another awesome top end sun set.
Day 4 – Peter was feeling a bit better but was not keen to get on the quad just yet so He and JB decided to walk the creek while Laurie and I headed out on the bikes again. Not long after setting out a mob of horses took of up a rocky hill to our left and we headed in after them when we got a bit closer we Laurie dropped 2 with his M10 and I dropped 1 with the LTR but hit the second a bit far back and needed a finisher when we bounced up over the rocks to check them. We headed for the first likely pig spot we had identified on the map but again the creek was full of water we then headed for another likely spot and after some hard going we rode into the dry creek bed and checked it out but there was no fresh sign to be seen, we found a way out of the creek bed up a steep and sandy bank then stopped to check the map just as I was getting the map out I looked over Laurie’s shoulder and a mob of horses took off across the flood plain behind us, Laurie took off after them as I put the map away then followed Laurie had already pulled up about 100m away and was into them as I pulled up I grabbed my rifle and chambered a round took aim at a horse and squeezed the trigger..Boom then a big cloud of smoke from the action, shit I thought what was that, I tried opening the bolt but it was stuck fast. I grabbed the tomahawk off the bike and gently tapped the bolt open with the rubberized handle when I eventually got it open I had a case suck in the bolt with an expanded head I got it out with a multi tool and cleaned the brass out of the bolt then put it back together and test fried it all seemed Ok.
On inspection the case was an ADI case that have thick bases I usually load my hunting ammo with commercial brass and avoid using ADI cases in my 7600 & LTR (No problem in my K98 .308) this batch was part of a test batch loaded with the top ADI load for 2206 behind the 130 Bullet Factory hollow points I had 50 left from that batch that I was trying trough all my .308s and threw them in at the last minute but not thinking to check for ADI cases. I think the heat and a flat chat load in the tighter Rem chamber caused the problem, looked through what I had left and found a couple more ADI cases so I put them aside and will test fire them at the range in near arctic SA temps and see what happens.
We decided to do a sweep of the large flood plain we were on then check out some of the nearby escarpment country the only thing we saw on the flood plain was a mob of skinny looking cattle they looked strange compared to the ferals that we were getting they were all in great condition really thriving. We stopped for a break at one of the escarpments after determining that it was too rough to try to follow the creek too far in and explored some of the overhangs and small caves.
As we set out again we crossed a well worn donkey trail that cut across the saddle of a small range of hills to the West, we stopped and checked the map and the trail looked to head toward what we called Hill 16 where Peter and Laurie cleaned up a mob of 16 donkeys the day they were out , so we pointed the quads west and followed the trail as we came down the Western side of the saddle we could see that the trail was leading to a creek that we knew had plenty of water just then “donkeys” crackled over the UHF and I looked to where Laurie was indicating to see the mob wandering slowly up the hill to our right, we grabbed our rifles and hooked in, we both reloaded to clean up the stragglers and put a few finishers in when we had done there were another 14 donkeys down.
After we reloaded our mags and had a breather we decided that as it was getting late in the day we should check a chain of 4 soaks that we had identified on the map earlier approx 2.7km’s cross country from our current position. After a rough and rocky downhill ride we hit the grassy flood plain and crossed a few smaller dry creeks. We saw the first soak in the chain from a distance it was about 60m long and 15m wide with a good bit of water in the bottom.
As we rode up Laurie went left and I went right almost at the same we saw a black shape on the right hand side far in a wallow at the far end, the pig was up and about to move as I threw the LTR to the shoulder working the bolt as I went, scope, black shape, Boom as I reloaded the pig started heading along the edge of the soak, the M10 cracked and he rolled dead into the water. We rode over and got a branch to drag him closer to the edge then looped the tow rope around him and towed him clear of the soak. He was a very healthy boar but the tusks were a bit small we checked for bullet strike there was one entry that entered through his left side with no exit the 190 grain Sierra’s doing a great job again and a .30 cal hole in his left ear, I looked at my scope and you guessed it set on 7x again! Mumbling to myself I wound it back to 2x and told myself to leave the bloody thing alone. This pig was really Laurie’s but he insisted it was mine as I hit it first, I had the photo but we both should be in it.
The next soak was approx 500m to our West across a large creek, we rode to the creek and left the bikes in the shade picked up our rifles and headed cross country on foot the GPS showed us approaching the soak, again I was approaching from the right as quietly as I could thought the grass when Laurie beckoned me over to his slightly higher vantage point I crept over and squatted alongside him through the grass we could see a water filled soak a bit smaller than the last and again a Large boar was wallowing as we stood up and closed in he took off, as he started up the bank I put a 150 core lock behind his right shoulder he went down but as he struggled to get to his feet a 190 Sierra from the M10 rolled him right back into the water he came from! Again the pig was large & solid but had small tusks.
We took the photos and checked the GPS for the next soak that was only about 100m away as we set off we stopped about 50m into the scrub and looked back if you didn’t know there was a soak you would never see it. We crept up to the next soak but found it dry so headed back to the creek and the bikes hoping we might see something as we walked along the creek bank with no luck, we crossed to the bikes and headed to the last soak we had identified on the map again finding it dry. We set off to check out the pile of dead horses from day 1 that were not far away we hoped the pigs would be feasting on them by now but no such luck. We headed over to another creek nearby that had some water in it and decided to walk it & try our luck this time Laurie grabbed his Lever action 12 gauge I took the edge of the water while he walked the far side bank again while the area looked very promising there was no fresh sign and after half an hour or so I went up the bank to see Laurie and we decided to head back to the bikes, he said he saw a few donkeys a little way back and we should get them on the way so we dropped into the creek and came up again about 200m along not far from the donkeys I put a mag in with 130 hollow points while we were in the creek, chambered one now then took aim at the furtherest donkey from us approx 80m. The LTR cracked and the 130 took him squarely in the shoulder dropping him I reloaded and swung onto the next one who was starting to move and hit it a bit far back and as I was putting the finisher in I could hear the IAC booming Laurie had two slugs loaded then OO buck his first shot went low but the second slug preformed a spectacular complete penetration of both shoulders causing massive blood loss and death! The last donkey was standing facing us so Laurie gave him a face full of OO Buck with no foreseeable effect so I dropped him with a 130 HP to the shoulder. When we checked them out we found another soak that was piggy paradise and had been used recently, marked it on the map and GPS for future reference.
It was getting late again so we headed for camp and a welcome shower , I was riding behind Laurie as he was the navigator and hanging back out of the main dust cloud it was getting dark and I was eating lots of dust when not far from camp came the shout over the UHF “Horses” as I pulled up I could see very little through my sun glasses and the cloud of dust that enveloped me so I grabbed my glasses from my Cargo pocket and the soft case came out with something stuck to it, a melted Mintie that had soaked through the case & stuck to the lens of my glasses I tried to quickly clean the sticky mess off as I listened to the M10 booming in the back ground. By the time I could see clearly it was all over with another 3 horses down. The last couple of Km’s to camp in the dark was another new experience.
Peter & JB had walked the creek for about 4 or 5 k's up stream and while as usual there was plenty of sign they saw no pigs, Pete was feeling Ok and thought the walk did him some good. We settled down for another great meal under the stars. JB decided that the last day he wanted to get us a buffalo and as they were of the menu on this property he got on the sat phone I had hired and got the Ok to go after some Buff nearby but it would be a long hard ride to get there with no guarantee of success. I was in for sure but Pete wanted to see how he pulled up in the morning.
Day 5 – Up in the morning for another feed of Bacon and eggs and Peter feeling pretty sore so he elected to stay in camp again putting JB in the saddle. We loaded our gear and rifles as my bike could only take 1 rifle and I wanted to take my 7600 in case we found the mother lode of pigs JB let me carry my .300 Win Mag in the scabbard on his bike leaving his Tikka 6.5 behind, unfortunately the mount for Laurie’s scabbard had broken a few days earlier so he decided to leave his .458 behind as well. We headed out and not long into the trip ran into a very rough & rocky range that we hoped we could go over rather than around we gave it a go but due to the size of the rocks we decided it would be better to go around after this detour the going was a lot better and we quickly crossed an open grassland plain and ventured into some low hills I was in the middle as we rode line abreast and followed a donkey trail about half way up the hill as looked ahead I saw 2 donkeys and put the call out on the UHF as I grabbed my 7600 and racked around into the chamber, 2 quick shots and they were down I returned my rifle to safe carry topped up the mag and placed it back in the rack. About 20m further the call came again over the UHF as JB dropped a couple with the .358 the rest of the mob scattered with some running across our front and some going to the left while JB took care of those Laurie & I finished the rest.
After some more creek crossing and a bit more open ground we came to another small range that when we crossed would put us into Buffalo country as we crossed the range I could feel the anticipation rising I was hoping for a bull but anything would do and appreciated the effort the other 2 were going to.
As we went further there was some more spectacular scenery all around us but still lots of long grass as we crested a small rise JB stopped & pointed to a small flood plain with some big trees at one end and some grey lumps underneath them suddenly I realized they were Buffalo! We switched the bikes off and JB pulled out his bingos and started glassing the mob, I took my .300 out of the scabbard on his bike and wound the scope up to 9x moved over to small tree sat down and did the same mostly cows & calves nothing that looked like a big bull, some of the cows had reasonable horns and would have made a good representative of the species at least. I looked at JB and he nodded grabbed the .358 and we stalked down toward them at about 90m we propped alongside a tree, I scoped the mob and Identified the largest one there but she was mingling on the far side of the mob just then a small change of breeze must have pushed our sent their way as the departed into the long grass it was amazing to see how quickly a mob of large beasts could disappear so we headed back to the bikes to see if we could pick them up again before I put my rifle in the rack I wound the scope back to 3x…after 5 days finally remembered!
We headed down to the floodplain and out the other side where the Buff had disappeared and fanned out trying to see where they went we rode on for about another K crossing a few small creeks and washouts then across the other side of a large creek bed on another larger floodplain there they were ambling along, we quickly found a place to cross the creek with yet another steep exit to negotiate which I managed pretty well. When we hit the flood plain the mob took off and JB raced off in hot pursuit the flood plain was pretty clear of grass but still had a few obstacles to negotiate. I followed JB’s path the best I could but a bit slower with Laurie going off to our right as we were riding after the mob three donkeys appeared from the other direction and cantered along right in front of JB I could almost see the wheels turning but he kept pace with the buff as they entered the long grass about 100m ahead of us they slowed for a breather JB ripped between a couple of small trees and I closely followed except my line must have been slightly off his and I slammed into an ants nest at the base of the right hand tree bringing me to a sharp and sudden halt flinging my right hand off the handlebar and whacking myself in the mouth and driving my left knee up into the underside of the handle bar on that side, Laurie was there quickly and asked if I was Ok. All seemed ok so I fired up the bike and followed JB to where he had pulled up about 90m from the mob who were still moving slowly but stopping to rest every now and then I picked up my rifle from the front rack of the quad and moved to a stand of small trees about 4m away chambered a round and quickly started looking for the big cow I had seen earlier when I found her she was at the far side of the mob mingling in and looking back over the others every now and then.
JB said quietly over the UHF “They are going to go again any minute” and the place they were heading was into a large creek system with lots of long grass and trees. So I picked the best one I could that gave me a clear shot she was facing away from me at a slight angle so I put the cross hair behind her shoulder and squeezed at the report of the .300 the mob bolted again I quickly reloaded and looked for her in the scope as I did I saw her stumble and fall I headed back to the bikes and made my rifle safe as I went. She was down in the long grass when we pulled up and we got off the bikes and stood there looking when she sprung back to her feet and took off we quickly turned and grabbed our rifles from the bikes and I chambered a round as I threw mine to my shoulder looking at her in the scope I was hoping for a headshot but on a moving target from behind it was a difficult shot so I dropped the crosshair a bit and squeezed another 200 grainer off into her left hip quickly reloaded and put another into her right hip as she stumbled Laurie hit her again with his M10 and she was down for good.
I was stoked at my first buff small and female she may be but a good representative of the species, the hard yakka began as JB showed me how to remove the skull cap and horns, I couldn’t believe how thick the bone was and can only imagine what a big bull would be like, though I would like to find out one day…. We followed the wound channel on the left hip and found the Accubond had broken the hip no exit wounds so they had all stayed inside, after the effort in the heat removing the horns we elected not to bother chasing projectiles. When we got back to the bikes and were stowing the horns we looked over and about 150m away there was a small mob of donkeys watching us, JB grabbed the .358 and headed straight for them closely followed by Laurie they got within about 100m of the donkeys while I finished securing the horns on my bike and the donkey stood and watched them but paid a heavy price for doing so, another 3 down. When we had a look at them we assumed they were the 3 that we saw running with the buff but they were all dark drown and these 3 were gray. We headed for a shady tree in a dry creek bed and had some lunch checked the map and decided we were at our limit and should start heading back to camp checking a couple of likely creek systems on the way. I hoped we might run into some more buff before we got back to the no go zone but unfortunately we didn’t after quite a bit of rough ground and heavy grass we came to the major creek system in the property we were camped on and as we rode along the bank looking for a place to cross JB leapt off his bike in one smooth motion grabbed his .358 and chambered a round shouldered it and fired a quick round into the creek then quickly racked another round in and fired again as I ran to where he was I saw a large boar climbing up the opposite bank and Laurie splashing through the creek on foot hot on his tail as they crested the bank the wounded boar took off in the other direction and was followed by a 190grn Sierra from the M10 that stopped him in his tracks. Not bad at all came the comment over the UHF that proved to be an understatement. We found a good place to cross a bit further downstream led by Laurie he guided us back to where the boar lay with his GPS. The boar was Large and had huge tusks JB was wrapped, after the photos he set about removing the jaw and then we moved on.
We were cruising a dry creek bank looking for a suitable crossing point as we planned to head for the main creek again to see if we could locate anymore high class boars I was trailing as usual and 3 donkeys were spotted under a tree on the other side of the dry creek Laurie was in the lead and he put a couple down and as JB pulled up a bit further along to pick off the last one another mob trotted out into the open. I nearly drove into a steep sided wash out so was slow getting to where JB was, he had to stand up on the seat of his quad to get a clear shot as he cleaned up a couple from there the rest moved further along the creek to were Laurie had managed to cross and he was amongst them with the M10, JB dropped down into the creek and left his bike there scrambled up the other bank and Joined the action, as I rode up to where I thought they had dropped into the creek I came to a sudden stop an looked down a sheer drop into the creek and no tracks to be seen, Bugger it I though as I backed up and finally found the spot they went down into the creek and followed. I left my bike with JB’s and climbed up to join the action as well, the others were about 60m to my right and to my left was 1 donkey trotting away 1 quick shot from the 7600 put it down I scanned for any more targets but there were none…standing anyway.
As we finished of those that needed it and did a count there were 19 dead donkeys on the ground and I got one of them, you have to be quick. JB and I headed back to our bikes then joined Laurie via the exit he founded earlier, we headed for the main channel looking for pigs we followed the creek for another K or so with no fresh sign just as we pulled up JB pointed to the far bank and there was another mob of donkeys, we took our rifles from the quads and walked along the creek looking for somewhere preferably dry to cross with no luck we decided to get our feet wet so Laurie went in and the water went over his knees so I figured I would find a bit shallower crossing, JB and I headed a bit further along and found a crossing that was only our knee deep then as we headed back to the donkeys we heard the sound of a .308 at work we jogged over and joined in another 9 ferals bit the dust, Laurie said ‘I though you blokes got lost and they were starting to move so I had to start on them” No probs mate we replied.
Back over the creek topped up our mags and set out again but the washouts hidden in the long grass made it tough going as JB dropped into a couple. It was getting late so we set course for camp we found the track soon after about half an hour later we spotted 2 large horses of to the right about 300m away Laurie said over the UHF “have a go at them with the .300” so we pulled over & I grabbed the .300 from JB’s scabbard chambered a round and took a rest over the box mounted on the back of the quad I estimated the range at around 250m and put the cross hair just below the shoulder of the biggest just before I squeezed the shot off it moved slightly to my left and the shot angled in behind the left shoulder and exited through the right shoulder with devastating effect, as I reloaded the other one was moving off and I hit it behind the shoulder but a bit far back, we mounted the quads and rode up as Laurie & I checked the first JB took off after the other we heard a volley of shots and when JB got back said that was one tough horse the hit from the .300 was good but he hit it again with the .358 and it went down but when he approached with the .223 it tried to get up again and took 2 head shots to put it down for good. We were heading along the track back to camp when Laurie’s dust cloud stopped moving as we caught up we were just in time to see him pick up the M10 chamber a round and shoot a donkey between the eyes at about 10m that was silly enough to stand alongside the track and watch us come by, as he made his rifle safe and returned it to the rack he looked at us and shrugged as if to say silly bastard! Off again, when we were a few K’s from camp the convoy slowed again and we pulled up together Laurie pointed to a large shape under a tree about 60 to 80m away there looking at us was a huge Bull buffalo with pretty good horns we sat and watched him for a while thinking what might have been then as the breeze changed he picked up our sent, turned and disappeared into the long grass behind, it was an awesome sight, as he disappeared I only then thought about my camera, would have been a great photo…and an even better trophy. Never fear I hope there will be a next time but even if there’s not I will always remember the effort JB & Laurie went to so that I could score a Buff.
As we rode back into camp and filled Pete in with the day’s events he was feeling a lot better but still a bit stiff and sore, I was a bit sad that this was our last night in the scrub but had enjoyed the whole time.
Day 6 - Up and about and the packing up started after breakfast after a couple of hours we were all packed up and ready to roll I rode with Laurie again with the action open on my 7600 in the cab and a couple of loaded mags on the dashboard, not far out of camp on the track we foraged on the way in we came close to a innocent looking stump and managed to stake a brand new tyre, it was a BFG muddie that I thought would laugh in the face of the stump we ran over but unfortunately the stump had the last laugh. To ease the pain we all quickly agreed to kick in for the replacement and with 4 of us we soon had it changed and were back on the road. After that we ran into a few small mobs of horses and donkeys that we cleaned up and I even got to hunt “Territory” style in shorts and thongs! There was a large dam not for from the main road and we stalked it hoping for one last chance at a pig but again they had been there a while ago. We stopped just before the road and bagged our rifles then headed for Darwin.
After we had unloaded one of the quads and some gear from Laurie’s trailer at JB’s place the boys enjoyed their first beer in a week before he headed off to unload his gear and meet up with his kids. We had showers put on some fresh clothes and headed to a BYO pizza bar in town for a great feed and a few well deserved drinks to cap off a great week. Thanks again to JB and Laurie for their time & effort in organizing this trip it was a blast!
The gear I took stood up to the task pretty well, the 3L camel back proved invaluable again I was drinking at least 5 litres of water a day, My basic Garmin Etrex H GPS worked a treat but for regular excursions into the kind of country we were in a mapping version is the go, I took 3 rifles - my 7600 in .308 with 2 x 10 rnd KKK mags (I have more but they are the 2 most reliable) my main mag was flawlessly but the 2nd I had a couple or feeding issues with. I backed them up with 3 x standard 4 rnd Remington mags, my Remington LTR in .308 adapted to use ACIS 5 and 10 rnd mags this worked flawlessly every time I used it (apart from the over pressure round) The stock fits me well and the rifle balances very nicely I think this rifle will become my “go to” field .308 from now on backed up by my 7600. Last but not the least my Weatherby Vanguard .300 Win mag that did all I asked of it and more I would hunt Buff with it again but would like the luxury of a bit more time and try to place my shots a bit more precisely. If I lived in the NT I would have a .375 or .458 in heartbeat but for now the .300 will do what I want it to.
I hope you enjoyed my account of my excellent adventure in the fantastic top end, this is my second hunt in a few years up there and hope it won’t be my last!
Bill - 7600
Australian Hunting Net ©2010