Back in April 2016 Rob Platt from Orange, NSW came to join me for a free range red stag hunt on Lagoon Hills station in the South Wairarapa. This property is where we do most of our free range deer hunts for fallow and red deer.
Rob and I had a great hunt over 5 days seeing lots a roaring stags and resulting in Rob taking a nice mature 10 point stag from about 50 yards as he bellowed his head off chasing another stags around in some manuka. Fast forward to May 2017 and Rob was back in New Zealand and this time we are looking for SIKA!
Robs 2016 red stagHeading north to meet up with the helicopter and hitch our ride into sika country. Spirits were high as the forecast looked fantastic, with light winds and frosts for the next 5 or so days.. Good rutting stag weather..
Day 1 and we made it into the block around 3pm and after a quick unpack we were out the hut door in search of sika, with only a couple of hours of light left the plan was to check out the surrounding country with the binos and see what might pop out for an evening feed.
It was bloody cold as we glassed a nice basin about 2km from camp. I eventually picked up one deer, a hind high on a clay pan grabbing some sun before it disappeared behind the hill behind us. Slowly the sunset and with no more deer spotted we headed for the hut for some dinner and a planning session for the next day.
Day 2 and we were up well before dark, plan was to do a full day on the hill and with full packs we were out the door in the pitch black. We made good time and got to a look out that gave us a commanding view over some prime sika stag country as light hit.
Spotting multiple deer on a neighbouring block that we didn’t have permission to hunt we keep looking hard on our side hoping something decent would appear. After an hour or so we spotted one nice stag followed closely by another. Both within our block and around 1.5km away.
Plan was to bush bash our way through some horrible snow damaged bush and close the gap and hope that later that day there might re-appear. By 2pm we were within 250 yards of where we last saw the stags, it was now a waiting game.
I was confident they would still tucked up an a patch of bush and as long as we were patient they would be back.. About an hour went by and nothing, I was getting a bit restless and with the angle could only see half of the country I believed they were in.
I grabbed my gear told Rob to wait there and while I change angles see what I can pick up. I’d moved about 50m to the right and within minutes spotted antlers moving through the scrub. Grabbing my gear I bashed my way back to Rob to tell him to get setup and be ready he’s coming!
Two minutes later the stag was standing broadside on a small clearing about 200 yards away. BOOM Rob pulled off a great shot and the stag went down. We headed over grabbed some photos and removed the meat. Loading the packs with the meat, head and cape we were off back up a decent hill towards camp..
Rob and I with his Sika StagTaking the cape and meat before the climb outIt was now about 430pm and making our way back up the ridge wasn’t easy, the scrub was bad bloody bad!.. Snow damage from the pervious year had most of the bush lying horizontal, energy sapping stuff. As we crossed the last clay pan we had approx. 200m of bush to get through and we would be back on the main track towards the hut.
By now the time was about 5pm and with 30mins or so of light left I was keen to make the track to save us bashing through the scrub in the dark. We had just entered the bush when Rob mentioned his legs were feeling sore. We had a rest for 10 mins before getting up to continue we hadn’t gone another 5min when I turned around to see no Rob..
Picture taking approx. 15mins before sh*t hit the fanWTF I thought? he was right behind me, I chucked my pack on the ground and headed back to see what he was doing.. what I found was a site I hope to never see a again, Rob hadn’t gone 10m from where we had been resting. And he was now lying on his side, pack on, eyes rolling back and almost frothing at the mouth. He could hardly speak as a tried to ask him whats going on?
Eventually the message was he was having a hypo as a result of being a type 1 diabetic and he needed food fast before he passed out. Grabbed his pack emptied it on the ground but he had no food left. I ran back through the scrub to my pack. Returning within seconds I had my pack inside out fanatically searching for some food. Camp was still about 2km away and running back while he was like this wasn’t really an option unless I really had to. He needed food and fast!.
As I turned my pack upside down an old barley sugar fell out, now i’m sure this thing was over a year old it had melted and reset itself and didn’t represent a oval barley sugar at all but it didn’t matter it was sugar! At this stage Rob kept saying he needed to sleep I knew the last thing we all wanted was for him to go into a coma. Chucking the barley sugar in his mouth I yelled at him to eat it, crush it in your mouth then swallow it..
I kept searching my pack pockets for more food thankfully finding two slices of bread left over from lunch and a muesli bar. Getting these into him had no immediate effect in-fact by now he was worse. Making no sense and barely conscious I ripped my PLB from my hip pocket on my pack and pushed the button.
The next two hours a a bit of a blur as I tried to make Rob comfortable and did my best to stop him sleeping eventually the rescue helicopter from Hastings turned up and by this stage the food had started to kick in and Rob could now sit up at least. They were bloody awesome and we sorted Rob out and flew him back to Hastings Hospital for the night while I went to the hut to pack up. And I’d come out the next day with all of our gear.
This was by far the scariest situation ive found myself in and really hate to think what the outcome would of been had I not had a PLB and extra food in my pack. Lesson here is if you don’t already own a PLB buy one! and always try to be prepared you never know what can happen in the bush, extra food, warm clothes and rain jacket might just save yours or a mates life one day.
Here’s a link to the PLB click on the picture.Just like to say a huge thanks to the crew out of the Lowe Recuse Helicopter in Hastings for there great service. These guys do amazing job and many a hunter has these kind of guys to thank there still alive today.
Here’s a link to the video from this hunt