Sure, the stags have dropped their antlers but there’s a bunch of other hunting opportunities that open up as the days get longer.
And besides not all of us are interested only in trophies; there’s always a few extra-curricular activities that can be included around those morning and evening hunts during warmer days.
In the low country, the longer days are the start of the growth on the river flats, and if you have your timing right these flats are magnets for deer. November and December is prime time to fill the freezer, with with hinds kicking off the yearlings as their new fawns drop. Now on their own and lacking life skills, these learlings often make an easy and delicious addition to the freezer, with the added bonus of being a great way to keep your local deer population in check.
It’s also a great time to get the kids out hunting, given the higher success rate will keep them interested, and there will be fewer complaints about being cold. With the days getting longer by about 2 minutes a day through spring, we don’t really have to get far into summer before the early starts and super-late evenings become taxing, especially for the kids.
Harrison Black enjoying some spring hunting
Packing the fishing rod is a wise move, and a great way to fill in time between morning and evening hunts, once you’ve found a nice cool spot to hang the venison, that is.
These longer days also bring mid-week opportunities to get out for an evening hunt without having to knock off work early. If you’re lucky enough to live reasonably close to one of your hunting spots, have your gear ready and get a wheel going straight after work. The same can be said for extending those weekend missions; Friday evening is a great time to knock off those bigger walk-ins or climbs onto the tops. This will set you up for a couple of good days further in the backcountry- you’ll just be back at work on Monday even more stuffed than you were before you left.
Image @ Neil Kerr
As the snowline rises and the spring growth starts climbing up the mountainsides, it’s a great time to be in the Southern Alps looking for chamois and tahr, it’s usually warm enough by then to start taking the dog again to. Only downside is that the tahr and chamois capes are nowhere near as good as they are in winter, but the opportunity is there to be really selective and find an old buck or bull They’re certainly less chewy on the BBQ than winter animals.
The tahr and chamois are often at much lower altitudes through spring, following that growth back up the mountainside as the season wears on. Mature chamois bucks are usually solitary and fickle to find anytime other than the rut but in spring, bull tahr will be mobbed up and fairly predictable, giving ample opportunity to really assess them well, and be selective.
Hugh Bagley - Image @ Luke Potts
Given the tahr situation at the moment, where the herd is very likley to be seriously smaller and structured quite differently, it no longer makes sense to be shooting female tahr the way we have been encouraged to in years gone by. By all means take one for meat but gone are the days of shooting multiple females with the idea that you’re managing the population. A revised Himalayan Tahr Control Plan (HTCP) and a bunch more research is needed, so that we can be sure what we are doing is sustainable.
There is lots of scope for four-wheel driving into some of our bigger East Coast catchments, camping by the truck and setting yourself up for a nice early climb in the morning. Often my tactic is to spend the evening covering a heap of ground with the bino’s, hopefully find something worth making a move on early the next morning. Keep an eye on those rivers as the heat of the day and warm winds can melt a heap of snow and push the rivers up substantially. And be aware of those spring avalanche paths as the day heats up. Keep an eye out for the smashed up scrub from previous years slides and don’t stop for lunch in the bottom of those drainages.
For all the above reasons, spring is also a great time to get out and explore some of the places you’ve been staring at on the map. Whether you find animals or not, there is nothing better than coming up with a route that takes you through new country, then getting out and doing it and hopefully finding that future honey hole.
Having year round hunting opportunities like we do is the envy of basically the rest of the world. With little hunting downtime and the next mission always in the pipeline, it really is a matter of making the most of the seasons and making the time to do it.
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