I was working for D.O.C. this summer cutting tracks in the Ruahines and had been given an old 303 and a box of original millatary ammo. We were doing some pretty big days on the hill and getting back to base pretty late most nights.
On one particular evening however we got back with a couple of hours daylight and decided to head down the Kawhatau river and have a look for a deer. There was a bit of sign around and some fresh legs someone had discarded on the track. My mate Dave who had done a bit of hunting before was checking out the slips then moving on through the shoulder high lupin bushes, I followed suit a few paces behind. After a while Dave got a bit bored and said he was going to head back to camp to start tea. I don’t blame him as we had done a 12 hour day already.
“I closed the bolt on a round with shaking hands,
took aim behind his fore-leg and squeezed the trigger slowly.”
I decided to carry on a bit especially as this meant I’d get off tea duty haha. I kept heading down stream breeze in my face emulating Dave walking quietly and stopping every now and then to scope out slips which were turning golden as the sun started to sag behind the hills. As I was walking along a river flat looking up at a deer track across a slip, a lanky beast stood up quietly from behind a lupin bush on the flat and started to trot off pretty slowly through the bushes along the flat. I was shocked and watched him do this in stunned silence 50m away without lifting a finger. When he had disappeared a thought raced through my head ‘shit I just stuffed up my first good chance at a deer’ so I ran off full gate after it. As I pushed through the last of the lupin I saw him starting to cross the river. I closed the bolt on a round with shaking hands, took aim behind his fore-leg and squeezed the trigger slowly.
It seemed like eternity before I felt the kick of the rifle but the deer had definitely been hit as he was stumbling around in the river. I worked the bolt and let another round go still with shaking hands and missed. The deer had turned back towards my side of the river and I ran a bit closer before putting another round through his shoulder. He went down and I cut his throat in the river. When he stopped kicking I dragged him ashore, got a few photo’s and set about doing some pretty unskilled butchery. In the end the light allowed for me to only take the hind legs and back steaks which I was glad about as the long walk back up river in the dark (I had forgotten my head light) was long enough. I walked up the hill to camp in the moonlight at 10:30 bloody, shattered and hungry. But stoked to have shot my first deer. Even more stoked for the feed Dave had cooked and after a feed and a wash I crawled into bed for a well earned sleep before another days track cutting.