Well it all happened over 20 years ago. A mate said ‘Do you want to go hound hunting?’ So we went out with this hound crew for a while and I shot a few sambar hinds, a few spikies and missed a few hinds and a few spikies. Well you get the idea. This went on for several years and nothing with antlers came my way apart from an animal with only main beams taken over Trevor Archer’s and Rob Strecker’s hounds way back in the 90s.
In 2005 I had a car crash and found myself in hospital only to find out that I had broken my back. Well I thought where’s my shooting and hunting career going from here as the doctors all said no shooting due to the level of injury. Well I got out of hospital 12 months later and moved back home with Mum and Dad.
It took a bit of getting used to the wheelchair and getting over feeling sorry for myself. It wasn’t all that long and Dad said ‘You have to stop feeling sorry for yourself’ and started taking me out fox shooting again, chasing foxes with hounds. Fair enough it was hound hunting, but the dream of wanting to shoot a sambar stag was always there and I figured that it wasn’t going to happen chasing foxes.
Bumping into a mate from 20 years previous in my parents’ chicken shop had the story continue as before. I shot a few sambar, but never a stag and it was hard getting used to shooting out of a wheelchair with its limited mobility.
I then got hold of an all-terrain mobility scooter which made getting around a lot easier; I could go places that I couldn’t before. The crew also felt more confident to put me in better spots that were a bit harder to get to.
On one hunt in 2015 they put me in a spot and Herbie walked the hounds in up high and they followed the stag sign down off the spur and put him out of the wallow along the creek. I couldn’t hear the hounds at all. But apparently, the hounds split and a couple turned and headed down the creek and I could hear them coming and they were screaming!
The deer sounded like a bulldozer coming through the bush. Then it came into full view - a good sized stag with antlers in the high 20s or even reaching 30 inches, and I missed. The hounds followed through on it and then lost it in the river. The crew looked for ages and couldn’t find it. We were all pretty disappointed and I didn’t sleep at all well for a little while.
Late in the 2016 season we hunted a gully that we hadn’t tried for a while. I knew where to hold off, except this time I went just a little bit higher up the hill and sat facing the creek. Colin walked the hounds in on some good-looking marks on the other side of the creek and away they went but they didn’t go far before returning. Jim then called Colin on the radio and said he had better get the hounds over to where he was because if they couldn’t start the marks he had he was going to start barking himself.
Jim called the hounds over and away they went off up the creek until I couldn’t hear them. Jim was about to head up higher towards Herbie and Alana when Colin said stay where you are; if they turn around the deer will come straight back to you two. Next thing, Colin says ‘You blokes better get organised – we have a walking bail coming back down the creek!’
I could hear the hounds coming (so could everyone else they were right with it and going right off). I got the gun up and when the stag came into view around 50 metres away and side on I put the dot on his shoulder and fired one shot. The stag disappeared, the hounds stopped barking and everyone is screaming into their radios ‘What Happened?’
Jim came running down to where I was and that’s when I realised that I had my radio turned off and that’s why no-one would talk to me. I pointed to where the deer had been and mumbled jibberish, so Jim went down across the creek towards where the deer should be. I yelled out to him ‘Is there anything there’ and he replied ‘Yep a dead deer’. That’s about went I went all pasty and started feeling a bit giddy with stag fever. I asked Jim how big it was and he replied ‘Oh, 20s I suppose.’
It was about then that everyone else turned up. Ray and Herbie gave me a kiss while Jim, Colin, Alana and Lisa, congratulated me. ‘How are you lot gunna get me over to the deer?’ Colin said he would carry me but that would have been scarier than his driving. I said just drag it out here and do some pictures. But Colin and Herbie said ‘Nah we will get you in there’.
So, with a bit of effort they got me in to the stag and I saw it up close for the first time. I hopped/fell off the mobility scooter and had a cuddle with the stag and the hounds. I think there might have been something in my eye about that time and a couple of others were possibly affected by the dogwood. It was a pretty special moment.
Anyhow just as well I managed to shot the stag cause the Missus said if I didn’t shoot one this weekend don’t bother coming home. I guess you can be lucky some times.
To end my story, I want to thank the crew for putting up with me, carting me around, looking after me and towing the mobility scooter up the bush (even though Herbie lost the trailer on the way). It wouldn’t have been possible without your help. Thanks, guys and girls.