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Stags in the Southern Alps

Stags in the Southern Alps

February was just about to end and the stags would be well into stripping their velvet. IT was time to get back into the hills in search of some hard antler! I hunted on my own while my mate Kevin hunted up an entirely different creek. Unfortunately he didnt see anything for the entire 3days, but thats not to say the big boys werent up there! Here I am spotting the deer from on the spur above camp. I strategically camped below this spur so I could cut up onto it first thing on saturday morning and glass the small, gutty head basin. This is where the two stags were, and the numerous wallows were below them.

I watched them for hours and hours as they fed, fought, and rested on the sunny face. IT was an excellent learning curve in terms of how stags interact with eachother leading up to one of the most aggressive and intimidating times of the year for eachother. The larger stag is on the right side of the photo, the younger one is on the left [almost out of view, but you can see his smaller antlers caught up in the 12s big set]

Theyre fighting in the open, this was fully zoomed in on a 300mm lense. The colour of the young stag was blaze orange ;D His older mate was muddy grey - and the body size would have been about 80kg difference easy peasy.

Crappy photo, but illustrates the alpine terrain and sloping tussock with not much cover at ALL!! It was more like chamois country than deer country..

It was quite a surreal feeling to shoot it after watching it and admiring it for so long. I must admit, as gay as it sounds, I was sadened after shooting this stag.

The 25-06 did the job, but only after 4 shots prior to getting it. I have no idea whether it was due to distance, wind, or rifle being OUT, but my last shot slapped it in the spine high on the shoulder [slightly behind shoulder].. he was running at the time, and would have been 200 odd meters. He actually ran closer towards me after the first shot. Perhaps I shot high or something, because they could quite easily have gone bolting further away and thenI would have been out of range.

It has strong brow tines, weak bez tines, and very strong trez tines, and then really strong tops - but unfortunately there are a couple of wayward points that will muck up the DS scoring. HE has a good amount of thickness, but not overly thick

And he's got a beautiful symmetry to his antler formation, which you can see on this angle. Along with the beautiful view across his domain.

Here's the tent parked at the bottom of the creek on the last night, I retreated back down valley to get out of the fog and drizzle, but to also camp on some grass for once. I didn't enjoy camping on the rocks up in the creek. IT was sh!t house.

Looking back down the valley just before it got dark. Funny thing happened while I was camped there that night.. I got a fire cranking with some dry debris right on fading light, and was cooking some bacon at the time - I was bloody desperately starving so in my mind it was just me vs the bacon.. i couldn't care less about what was happening around me... Zulu was winding hard off to my right, but I didn't care, I was intent on cooking the bacon thinking about the salty taste and all the fat and arh man it was good thoughts racing through my brain..

 

In fact I couldn't wait more than a minute or so and I ate several peices prematurely [it was still good though]! On the second round of bacon I noticed that Zulu had moved about 10m up wind of camp and was pointing and winding strongly in the direction of where the wind was wipping down, so as I grabbed a handful of bacon and stuffed it in my mouth I spun around to see what the hell she was winding [I thought she was acting suspiciously like there was a deer around] Well.. I couldn't believe it!!

 

There stood a big heavy antlered stag about 100-150m up wind of camp, right on the bush edge. THe rifle was lying beside me, so I rolled on my stomach, pulled the scope caps off and loaded one in the mag incase it was a goodie, wound the scope up to 14x and looked through the scope.. HE was good, he had heavy heavy timber, was carrying [what I could make out to be] 10points, and had a real nice bow shape to his antlers [which registered all in the space of a second or two].

So finger went on the trigger and was taking aim and in order to get my eye properly aligned with my scope I needed to stretch my neck.. in order to do that I had to swallow the bacon ;D well I swallowed the bacon but then began choking, at first I thought swallow it you p*ssy and drop this thing.. so I swallowed it again. NOPE. The second choke was a bit more aggressive and caused me to cough and splutter!! I was still watching the stag, but my eyes were semi bulging so I reluctantly took my finger away from the trigger and stuffed my hand into my face and literally gripped the strips of semi-raw bacon out of my throat hahahaha anyway the stag spooked..

 

Probably thought what the hell is this freak up to, and was never seen again. He must have been curious as to what the bright flickering of the fire was, and these moving objects around camp... But anyway, despite his curiousity it was an opportunity missed for me, which to be honest i really didn't mind about. I just thought of all the things that could kill me in the mountains, a piece of bacon would have to go last on the list ;D I will never forget that moment for as long as I live.. and neither will the stag

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