Last week a keen Aussie hunter from Orange, NSW joined me for a good old fashion roar hunt. Robert and I were hunting a great private station in the South Wairarapa region of the North Island. The place has some amazing free range hunting with the stags originating from the Windsor Park red deer release not far from here over 150 years ago.
I picked Rob up from the airport late one afternoon and we were soon making the 2hr journey over the hill to the property to give him his first taste of roaring stag action. Arriving late on the Saturday night we went about unpacking gear and getting ready for the first hunt the following morning.
Robert glassing for a croaking fallow buck belowSunday dawned a cracker and we were out the door an hour late due to me forgetting that daylight savings meant 6am was actually now 7am! We made the first spot in good time and before long an aggressive roar drifted up the gully from about 400m away.. You beauty I thought and we gathered our gear and closed the gap hoping to lay some eyes on him before he followed his hinds back into the manuka for the day. Unfortunately as we closed that final 50m a swirling wind gave our presence away and he was gone.. buggar Stags 1 Us 0
Hinds out at first lightYoung red trying to stop his hinds heading back to coverWe carried on seeing a few deer here and there while stalking some bigger pine country & before we knew it it was late morning and we called it quits retreating to the quarters for some lunch and to sort a game plan for the evening. At 3pm we were back on the job glassing for a high look out seeing plenty of fallow and red hinds along with small young stags in tow but the bigger boys were holding their ground roaring from the thick scrub. We hunted our way around to a great clearing surrounded by mature pine forest and manuka guts. It wasn’t long before hinds started appearing and eventually a nice 10 point red turned up roaring often. He was quite long and had a beautiful shape but been the first real day hunting Rob was keen to hold off to see what else might pop its head out. The stag didn’t hang around long and was gone before we could close the gap for a better look. We saw a few other stags that evening but they were all small or young and we decided to get back first thing in the morning and see what else might be lurking about.
Young fallow buck on a missionCome Monday and we were up early and in position for day break. The wind had got up and made hearing the stags difficult but as we approached the gully we had chosen to hunt, that unmistakable sound of a bellowing stag had the heart pumping. I knew where he was; about 800m from the stags last night so I was hoping he was a different stag or the big 10 from the night before. Peering over the knoll he was well out in the open chasing some poor hinds around the place roaring his guts out.. We had a good look at him and it appeared to be another 10 but a smaller younger animal from the one the night before so we watching him for about an hour getting some footage before heading bush to chase a couple of stags we could hear roaring below us in the pines.
Cant bet the sound of bellowing stags up closeAfter a few hours of exciting stalking closing the gap on a few fellow bucks and one really nice red stag only to have a tree blocking a clean shot we called it a morning and headed back for some bacon and eggs; a luxury when you’ve been running around the hills for the few days. By late afternoon the wind was howling which made hearing stags very tricky but we looked over a few more before pulling pin and deciding on a dawn raid on the big clearing where the big 10 had been on Sunday evening..
Tuesday morning with a bit of rain overnight and with a stiff northerly breeze we had to do a big loop to approach the clearing on first light. After a hour or so walk in the dark we were soon approaching what we hoped would be stag central.. Sure enough 300m from our chosen spot a roar sparked up, then another.. by this stage it was now light enough to see and glass that area. Straight away I spotted a stag about 400m running towards us tongue out and on a mission then a roar closer to us at maybe 100m or so fired up on a manuka face straight in front of us.. Rob and I guessed the first stag was heading for this guy looking to steal his girls away and sure enough thats exactly what happened! We closed the gap to 80m catching a glimpse of the now two stags. One was the big 10 and the other a smaller 11 and as they ran around chasing each other Rob got steady on a local manuka branch and I gave a moan to get the stag to stop and offer a clean shot. Sure enough at my roar he stopped dead in his tracks followed by BOOM! the .270 barked and the stag dropped on the spot. Rob had pulled of a great shot clean to the base of the neck and we set about sorting him out for a one way trip back to Australia.
Robert with his stag shot roaring at 80 yardsThat evening I had two Hawaiian hunters who were in NZ hunting fallow turning up. They had had a successful week chasing bucks around but now wanted to hear the famous red stag bellow. So Rob and I spent the evening scouting and working out what area we’d take these guys on Wednesday morning. They only had one day, they were approx. 70 years old and one wanted to shoot a free range red stag.. not the easiest task but possible if we got lucky..
Wednesday morning, it had rained all night and now the wind had swung to the south bringing cooler weather perfect for roaring stags. As soon as we started walking we could hear stags going to town about 1km away. We closed the gap and sat tight waiting for day break; once light enough the binos got a solid work out seeing many deer but nothing worth closer inspection so we went bush, roaring up a few stags but between the wind and scrub branches getting a decent stag on the deck was proving very tricky. We headed back after a few hours for some lunch and by 3pm we were back in the spot I knew a good stag had been holding but he didn’t like to show himself until right on dark. So with the plan to sit and wait him out sorted we were in position by 4pm and he was going to town roaring his guts out but holed up in some manuka about 400m away.
Unfortunately due to the angle we couldn’t get a good view in on him so we closed the gap and swung around from a different angle eventually laying eyes on him; a nice 11 pointer holding around 7 hinds. By this stage it was getting late and with about 15mins of light left he finally gave Noel the Hawaiian a clear shot, unfortunately the first shot missed and the stag bolted only to stop and give Noel another shot which he got the job done on. Noel was over the moon and I take my hat off to him; he’s a mad hunter that has had a hip replacement and 2 knee replacements but hunting still runs through his veins and he deserved that stag after the effort he had put in during the morning. Walking around 6-7km is not easy for some who’s 74 and he could of very easily gone to a safari park and shot a penned stag had he wished but he wanted a free range hunt and that’s what he got so good on him.
P.S If your looking for a 100% free range hunting trip feel free to get in touch we have options to suit all hunters.