A Poms Deer Hunt to Oz
As anyone on this site will be aware, my deer hunt started
with an advert of sorts on the site, asking for help to do some shooting,
while on a family holiday to Oz in September 2001. This advert was answered
by Les and he offered to take me out hunting sambar. I had never heard
of sambar before and had virtually no experience of deer hunting in England
, in fact my shooting experience was foxes, rabbits and woodpigeons. Little
did I know then that this advert would lead to the finest shooting holiday
I have ever had in my life.
John at the pub they stayed
at during the hunt.
That day we went round the gun shops in Melbourne and I started to learn about the different cultures we have as regards shooting. Our gun shops are predominately stocked with shotguns and a few rifles while the ones in Melbourne were the opposite in fact I saw lots and lots of rifles there with calibres I had only heard about.
On the way up to where we were going hunting I was full of questions about everything to do with shooting, the country and the size of it, the road signs, the history of the place and its people. Les patiently explained as much as he could to me and the journey, through spectacular countryside, passed very quickly. We duly arrived at the motel we were staying at, and stashed our spare gear in our rooms, before heading off into the bush for an afternoons hunting.
I am sure I developed a swivel on my neck then, because I could not take in the vast countryside I was being driven through. Then we went off the road and into the bush. Well that was an experience on its own, being driven along tracks just wide enough for the ute. It was then I started to understand the need for all the gear in the ute. We came across a recently cut tree and I then realised the need for chainsaws etc. If you got lost in there, you needed all the help you could get!
After the first day.
It was then I learned I knew nothing about deer hunting and I showed my ignorance by asking Les if some animal dirt I had proudly found was deer. He said "No John, wombat." I then became the expert in our expedition on wombat dirt. I did work out by myself though that you could find deer tacks by the side of pools. We spent a few hours, fruitlessly trying to find the deer and during this my ignorance was shown again. Les told me he was going to show me a rubber tree. Well after seeing all the eucalyptus trees I thought it would be a change to see another sort of tree although why he was showing me it I didn't know. He showed me the tree and I could not see any different kind of tree ahead of us. By now I am sure you have guessed what was happening ..he was showing me a rub tree that the deer use to rub against. Another laugh was then had at my expense.
We then continued our hunt all the while I was constantly being amazed
by all the sounds of nature around me. On arriving back at the ute, as
it was starting to get dark, I was asked by Les to get some water for
a traditional drink of tea, made in a billy. I walked a short way and
when I got back I found that Les had started the fire going. I asked him
how he had managed it so quickly and he replied," An old bush trick,
John. Two sticks". I accepted this at the time, as I was still totally
engrossed by the splendour of the scenery around us. The tea was then
made and I can honestly say it was the best I have ever drunk. As we were
enjoying the tea and a cigarette we had been quiet for some time. Les
walked back to the ute for whatever reason and just opened the ute door.
There was then a tremendous crashing in the bush about ten yards away
from us, which was obviously coming from an animal that we had just spooked
and it was wildly running away from us. I looked at Les with a puzzled
look on my face and he said " Yes John that was a sambar." He,
too, had a look of disbelief on his face, that we had been so close to
a deer without knowing it.
After cleaning the camp area we started to make our way back along the
tracks to the main road. I was expecting to see all sorts of wildlife
in the lights, but all we saw was a couple of bloody rabbits!
John in the creek,
It was still pitch black, all the way up into the mountains, and we parked up, after a hair raising climb up a track that looked like the side of Everest to me.As we parked up I was not sure of the countryside around me, all I knew is that we were in the bush and we were a long way up.
We then continued our hunt for the sambar, along tracks that were a little easier to negotiate than the previous day. After about an hours walking, for some reason, Les turned off the track and we started to walk into the bush. We were walking along the side of the hill sloping down to our left and it then rose up again in front of us. I then heard a tremendous noise from what was obviously a deer straight ahead of us but down the left side of the hill. Everything then seemed to happen in slow motion. I looked over to the area of the noise and there saw a magnificent sambar stag, partially hidden by low bush. Its head turned toward us and I could have sworn it looked me in the eye before crashing away down the slope away from us. It was as if it were saying to me that I could look at him but I had to put a lot more hours in before I made him a trophy. We have a phrase in Yorkshire which is "gobsmacked" which means to be totally astounded and speechless. Well I was well and truly gobsmacked, by the sheer size and majesty of this noble beast. After a quick, quiet discussion, when Les explained there may another around we patiently waited. But ,alas, it was not to be. However I came down that mountain a very happy man.
After a good nights rest, and I needed it, it was time to
get back to my sisters. Les gave me a lift all the way back and we arranged
to meet later in my holiday, for a meal, which we subsequently did, aboard
the ship that he works on. The food was delicious. We then had to part
company but it was not before Les gave me a Zippo lighter, with a sambar
deer on the front, and an inscription on the back, as a momento of our
hunt together. Again I was gobsmacked.
P.S. There is no way this pom can be accused of being a whinger. I thoroughly
enjoyed all the company I was with in Oz, the people are so genuine, honest
and friendly, plus the local beverages are so likeable (all of them that
I tried and that was a few) as I said before the countryside and its sights
defies description. There is nothing at all I had anything to whinge about.
John and Les right on top of the mountain they