With good planning and the lightweight gear available these days you can really cover a lot of ground, even on just an overnighter.
But, even with all that fancy gear and an honest attempt at good planning, you can find yourself having bitten off more than you can chew and in the midst of what feels like a death march.
There’s a valley I’d had my eye’s on for quite a while now, and after the usual pouring over a topo map, google earth, and even consulting my trusty Moirs Guidebook, it appeared that a solid overnight trip should have it covered.
So, on a Friday evening I did the usual last-minute ring around to see who keen for what for the weekend. We took off at a leisurely hour on Saturday leaving the truck just before lunch as a team of 3, being Joseph, Luke and I.
Now Joseph is built like a hillstick, naturally fit and has his gear weight down to fine art. Whereas Luke and myself although having quality lightweight gear, are built more like a pair of seals and so tend to rely more on stubbornness to get us up the hills.
Trying to follow the line in the guide book to a tee, we soon found ourselves traversing through thick shitty bush with tight, eroded, washed out gutters every 100m. No wonder the book said “seldom used”. Trying to keep the pace up so as to be out of the bush before dark, we lost a lot of sweat. But popped out onto the valley floor with just enough light to find the nearest flat spot to camp for the night, something like 10 or 11 hours after we’d left the truck.
Waking up in prime country, albeit a bit tired, we started glassing over a morning coffee and a Radix breakfast, picking up a few animals here and there. Then we spotted what looked to be a really nice buck well above camp but quite obviously making his way down to check out these intruders in his valley.
A rough phone scope image of the buck making his way down to us
With the buck now only 300yards away we sent Luke off up the hill with his bow to put a stalk on him, while Joe and I sat back filming and generally mocking Luke’s decision of a direct uphill approach. The direct approach to our surprise, worked out really well, with Luke getting all the way in to 30 yards. When about to draw the buck winded him and spooked off uphill. By this time Joe and I had more than enough time watching the buck to know that he was a seriously nice animal with super heavy bases. So, as soon as he paused to look back down hill we were ready, taking him with maybe only a 200 yard shot.
10 1/8th" - 28 1/2 DS bunch
After the usual milling around reliving what had just happened and grabbing a few photo’s, it was back to camp to pack up and get moving, knowing we needed to find a better route out and ideally hunt on the way and still hit the truck before nightfall.
Great work from David Jacobs, The Taxidermist Ltd
After little debate, we decided to just grind our way up a side creek to hopefully pop out on the ridge some 700 meters above and glass our way along before dropping back down to the road. A few hours later and after a considerable monkey scrub swim, we finally hit the tussock and crested the ridge.
Moving along the ridge and stopping to glass we were picking up a few animals here and there, when we spotted a lone buck pretty swiftly heading uphill, again to check us out. Luke hurriedly screwed a few arrows back together after having dismantled everything to go in his pack for the monkey scrub swim. Taking a guess that the buck would pop up to the left of the wee knoll we were on, Luke shuffled 20m that way and set up. Of course, only for the buck to do the opposite and come up just to our right. So, with Joe I staying dead still and filming the buck from only 20m, Luke now had to shoot 40m from behind and to the left of us. Watching the arrow strike we knew that buck was dead on his feet, losing his legs and rolling down the hill some 5 seconds later. Luke had just managed to take his first buck with the bow, although I’d say that the buck stalked him rather than him stalking the buck.
Luke with his epic 9 1/4" bowshot buck
Packs were lifted again and we were again wandering down the ridge to drop back into the bush, hoping to find a nice line down through the 600m or so of height we had to loose to get back to the track. This went relatively smoothly for a change, with us hitting the track just on dark and walking the final hour back to the truck.
One hell of an overnight trip, having essentially walked 24 out of 36 hours, I’m pretty sure we will be allowing for a couple of nights next time.
Originally published in NZHunter Magazine - Grab a subscription HERE