So, I’m new to this adventure, very new. I’ve been an avid spearo for many years now and hunting my own seafood has always been a pleasure. It’s satisfying knowing your produce is being caught sustainably using skills, knowledge and equipment developed over time.
I wanted to take it a step further. I dipped my toe in the hunting pond, got my firearms licence, submitted a Permit to Acquire, did my R-licence test and during what seemed like an eternity of waiting, went to the local newsagencies and bought all of the current and back-dated hunting magazines they had, watched Youtube and joined the ADA researching like I was sitting my med emergency exams. I’d never really hunted before, let alone seen a deer or pig in the flesh. I was keen!
I felt well equipped. I had a rifle and sighted it in at the local SSAA range at Seaham, found ammunition that grouped really well, did hours and hours of research into maps, techniques, behaviours and I was confident if I was to come across something to fill the freezer, I was ready to effectively and efficiently pull the trigger.
My R-licence arrived, I printed my interim paper and a week later booked in a three-day solo trip to a state forest just by Nundle (in the New England area of NSW).
I packed the campervan (Reggie) and set off on Tuesday afternoon to arrive late to find a patch of grass just off the fire road and pull up for the night.
I sat there with the solar lights on looking at maps, planning a route to start midway up a south facing ridge, across to a spur where there was a waterhole at the base. I wanted to cover some kilometres, hoping to find some solid ground to glass and see what awaits.
A section of NSW forest where the author had his first hunt.
Up at 5 am, boiled the kettle, got the gear together and set off in the dark, with just a glimmer of light to get me through. Within an hour I’d seen two foxes scouting a shallow gully — it was early on my first day, and although I got itchy fingers knew what I was here for and it wasn’t to rid one of the many pests of the forest while scaring everything else away.
I pushed on to find plenty of pig sign, with diggings everywhere. I was blown away and thinking: ‘Yep, we’re on here’. On my way back to the van later, I found an open grass patch with goat and pig sign. I sat and glassed it until it was dark with no result. I covered just over 14 km that day, with nothing to be seen apart from the foxes, but plenty of sign that I marked on the map for another day.
Pig sign was found in one area.
I relocated to the eastern side of the state forest which had less elevation but where Google maps showed plenty of open gullies and potential feed areas. I parked 200 m down the road from an open grass patch between two sections of pines and made my way there to wait for sunrise. I glassed for a few hours with no sightings. I then headed into the pines and found my first deer sign. I had never imagined having a fetish for animal scats but hey, here we are.
I followed a game trail to look up and see three does bouncing away in the distance. I shouldered my rifle but they were gone. I SEEN A DEER! I was amped, it was on!
I continued on, covering just over 12 km that day. Later in the evening I found a feed area with deer scat every 10–15 m. It was everywhere. I found a spot 150 m upwind of the area and glassed until sundown. Roos …. plenty of roos, but the area seemed so promising that I planned to head back for sunrise and glass again.
All geared up and just needing the opportunity for a shot at game.
The final day. After seeing my first deer and deer scat out the whazoo I couldn’t sleep. I was up at 4.45 am, packed, fed, caffeinated and en-route to the feed area I’d glassed the day prior. I stalked in incredibly slowly and quietly to set up with my bag as a rest, back against a tree and the wind in my face. I planned to glass this area until 0800 and then head to higher ground overlooking a feed patch where I’d seen scat the day before.
It was 0720 and I was glassing the south-western side where I expected the game trail to bring the feeding deer into the area. I put my binos down and looked at the feed area, ANTLERS! Really? ANTLERS!
I picked up the Tikka T3, rested it on my bag and I was right! ANTLERS! He was about 150 m away walking straight towards me with no idea I was there. I waited, shaking, excited and at about 60m, after what seemed an eternity, he turned broadside. BANG! The Hornady Whitetail 130 grain pill from my .270 went straight through the shoulder blades. He dropped on the spot but the lights weren’t out, so when I approached, I put him out with a final round and the deed was done.
I couldn’t believe it; I had put in some serious kilometres and hours waiting, glassing and the advice everyone had given me was ‘If you put in the yards, you’ll get the rewards’ and they were right.
I took everything off the animal leaving nothing but the ribs, guts and left shoulder. The freezer’s full and I now have a European mount to remember my first hunt, with my first rifle and my FIRST DEER.
Contributed by Reece Kuhn