Swazi Stories

Tau Poutini Adventure - Part 2

Tai Poutini Part 2

   Being camped up by a river has advantages, but in bad weather conditions, it also calls for some pretty astute decision making on whether or not you’ll be able to cross back to your camp at the end of the day. We’d been hamstrung by rapidly rising water levels for a couple of days until a break in the rain saw those levels recede and the option of heading downstream to hunt the next catchment offered itself new country to explore.

 

   While the rain refused to completely stop, the deluge had now turned into constant drizzle and the many tributaries we had to cross were suddenly manageable. Slips and open areas we may previously have walked by looked inviting and we stopped by many to glass for animals. High above us in the mist a stag ran from side to side of an open face, moving among his five hinds and feeding, totally unaware of the hunters leaning on logs watching his every move.

 

   “He’s a nice 12, bloody good for these parts” Nick commented. But given the boys had travelled so far to hunt for tahr we decided to pass him up for another day and continue down the valley in search of the big shaggy devils.

 

   A stop for a bite of tucker below a huge fresh slip saw the mist eventually disappear and all of a sudden the gnarly mess of twisted logs and house-sized boulders in the creek turned from looking like a maze into a golden staircase that could take us higher than the monkey scrub and out on to the open tops above.

 

   A slog up the guts saw us emerge on a small level patch of ground and with it an opportunity to begin glassing the cliffy overhangs to our left and right. A young bull appeared from behind a small scrub bush and, oblivious to the hunters below, began feeding. Then to his right, a mob of nannies seemed to just materialise as if they’d been transported off the USS Enterprise…. One moment there’d been nothing there and suddenly half a dozen animals stood. Always amazes me and makes me wonder just how many you walk past.   

 

   Right. Time to get comfortable and hunker down while we glassed. There has to be a big boy somewhere around here… From the shadows of a long-running tongue of solid rock a shape slowly turned from being a dark rock into a dark rock with horns, then as if by magic or trickery, from a dark horned rock into long maned tahr. “There’s our bull.”

  

   Espen got as good a rest as possible on a couple of daypacks stacked together and asked for a range. “280 meters, but straight up almost. The ballistic binos give a true reading of 203 meters mate. Aim smack on.”

 

   Not waiting for any further instructions he fired almost immediately and the bull tumbled from sight. A good hit! The climb up to the bull got steeper the higher we went and though in reality, it was a short distance it seemed to take forever to get up to where we’d seen him last. A perfect shot, a great animal and one hell of a happy Norseman.

 

   With both guys having taken good bulls we decided to continue hunting the last day of our trip and took a couple of meat animals. Tahr numbers are currently, in my opinion, too high to be sustainable and as hunters, we shouldn’t just be interested in taking trophies, we also need to address the ecological impact high populations have on the bush. Estimates are around 35-40,000 tahr in our mountains and the reality is that number needs to be at least halved, if not more. The fact is if the hunters don’t do it someone else will.

 

   I firmly believe we need to ensure two things. That the bush can flourish, and, that future generations have the opportunity to continue to hunt the majestic tahr in one of the most pristine and remote locations on the planet.

 

   It was such a memorable trip. Good mates and good hunting. A few hut bound days thrown in, where the humour and banter flowed like Manuka honey on a hot day. I guess I should mention, if I haven’t already, it was work! Testing some of our new lightweight raingear means just that. Testing it in the crappiest conditions you can find. Ahhhh. There are days when I just love my job!

 

 

 

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