In late December 2016 during the velvet season, while I was glassing a large pine plantation, a stag with nice tops caught my attention. I had entered the private forestry block just a few times previously, with permission from the owners. They had said to me while discussing access that if I had wanted to take a meat animal, I could help myself.
There were not a great many animals on the block and most trips at that time of year I would see hinds and the odd new born calves so the thought of a meat animal was put on the back burner. But this fully developed 6 x 6 velvet stag was indeed a great looking animal.
I decided to leave him be as it would only be ten to twelve weeks and he would ready for the rutting period. I never went near the pine plantation over that time.
Mid-March it was with great joy my mate Dan and I drove into the block as the first light and entered the pines. I turned off the truck’s motor, pulled out a hot flask of coffee and dug into the tucker enjoying breakfast.
It wasn’t too long before we heard roaring a fair way off down by the main river system and we discussed the best plan of stalking so as to get the wind in our favour. Truck locked, we slowly walked down an old logging track as a bit of morning fog rolled in, but we would have a good hour’s tramp to where we thought the stag may be.
A wallow I knew about was where we were headed near a small stand of old hoop pine trees. The smell of rutting stag was evident with plenty of fresh marks on the game trails. We had stalked our way into the hoop pines when we saw movement 200 metres away in a clearing.
Lifting our binoculars, we both picked up a huge stag; it took us a while to determine if this stag was indeed the one I had seen back in the summer months. He was standing in a very dark gut and looked like he was muddy all over, no doubt from wallowing which made it hard to see him. The stag had three top tines on both sides and I decided to take some photos to have a better look. I just got one photo before the stag was gone.
After looking at the photo I decided that it was more than likely that same stag from the velvet season. We knew he wouldn’t go far so put in the stalk. We took our time moving along in the hoop pines with the wind at our faces and with good game trails making the going easy. We could hear the river not far off and eventually came out to the bank, but stayed hidden from view at the bush edge.
A spiker bolted across the riverbed, then to our amazement a bigger stag was running in hot pursuit. They both stopped on a clear ridge giving us the time to get a better look at the bigger animal. Wow it was the same 6 x 6 for sure!
Dan loaded his .270 and got a good rest on a handy pine stump. We ranged the stag at 230 metres and Dan closed the bolt and fired. The stag took the bullet well and he dropped out of our sight. Twenty minutes later after crossing the water and climbing to the ridge we found the animal.
What a great South-East Queensland wild bush stag, a nice even head for my mate; well worth the wait. After head skinning and taking most of the venison we packed our way out the two hours to the forestry road end