Sunday, 24 June 2012

A month in the bush learning to hunt

Hi everyone. Last weekend, Astro, Zsa Zsa and I took off into the bush for a few weeks. Unfortunately Ozkar couldn't come, as his mummy wouldn't let him be away for so long. We all miss him terribly.

We are camped out in the high country of Victoria in the attempt to spend some real quality time getting down and learning how to stalk Deer, Foxes and Rabbits. It's only a few hours a day we do this, as my health is still not good. But, we manage a slow walk each morning and each evening and each day are getting better and better at hunting and stalking.

Zsa Zsa is still my biggest challenge. She just wants to run and hunt for herself. She is slowly starting to get it, but it's taking more time than it is with Astro. Astro is very tuned into what I am doing and will hunker down into a stalk with me as soon as he sees my body language change. Zsa Zsa needs to be constantly reminded to heel.

We came up last Sunday from memory and set up camp on the banks of a beautiful fresh mountain river. Unfortunately Tuesday the rain hit and a flash flood warning was issued for the River, so we had to hastily pack up camp and move to another location. We only just made it too, with the River bursting it's banks slightly just at the entrance to the campground. We had to reverse back and take a run up to get across the rushing water and up the incline to the roadway.

We then found a nice alternative campsite on the boundary of a friends property. It is an old disused Rifle Range, with a ramshackle club house still on the grounds and the ranges still usable. So we set up the tent on the wooden verandah of the clubhouse. It's cheating a little, but it is nice to have a dry wooden floor underneath, when it has not stopped raining for 6 days.

We are not slumming it as such, we have gas cooking if a fire is not able to be lit. (The rain has been so heavy, it has quashed several evening fires and forced the gas cooker out of the camper trailer) We also have a generator to charge laptop, phone, gps, lights and even operate a toaster and a heater. (I know it's soft, but it's been -4 and -5 the last few nights and even with two dogs in the bed it's still cold when you first go to bed. Each night I boil some water and add a hot water bottle to the bottom of the sleeping bag. The dogs appreciate that as well.

We have managed to live well while out hear, but if we were to be attempting to follow Redbirdogs blog and be self sufficient, then we would have had a mighty fail. On days one, two and three, we spotted and got spotted by several groups of Sambar Deer. Each time though, we either had wind against us or Zsa Zsa broke ranks and ran in before I could even slot an arrow onto the string. Patience is a virtue they tell me. We will get there in the end I know, but it will take some time.

Tuesday the weather is looking up, so we might drive out early to a new spot and see what happens.

Here are a few pics of the riverside camp and some of the things we have seen since being out here.

I must say, the solitude has been a godsend. Just the three of us, doing what we want, when we want to. Got to love that and even though it's been snowing not 150 metres above us and the rain has not ceased, it's all worth it.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

It's been a while since I last posted, so I thought it best to jump online and let you all know what's been happening. A few months ago, I made the decision to explore the natural instincts of my Vizslas and my Pointer and take them hunting. Vizslas and Pointers are generally described as general purpose gun dogs. With an ability to focus on both feathers and fur.

Rather than go down the standard path of training for birds, I made a decision to go down a slightly more difficult path. That of Hunting Deer, Goats, Foxes and Rabbits. These animals are all non native to Australia and as such are classified as pests. So not only will it be an experience for the dogs, but it will also aid in reducing the impact of introduced species on the Australian Flora and Fauna.

Once again, rather than making things too easy, instead of opting to use a firearm, I have rekindled a hobby I had at school, that of archery. So instead of using a firearm, we will be hunting with a bow. This is going to provide both myself and the dogs an even greater challenge. Anyone who has hunted Deer will know how easily spooked they are and how difficult it is to get within rifle range, let alone, the closer proximity required to get a clean take down from a bow.

So, of late it has been a process of re-skilling myself and becoming bow proficient again, which is now achieved. As well as commencing the training of the dogs in tracking animals in the bush. Thus far we have only been on one hunt and did not even get a chance to place an arrow on the string. But, it is all slowly coming together. I have been a little slack with the taking of pics, being so focussed on getting myself and the dogs ready prior to the Deer season kicking off. (It commenced in early May)

I am actually sitting in camp as I type this, having hunted all day without ever getting within range. The dogs are all asleep by my side in the tent as they are exhausted from using their noses all day. Next weekend is a holiday weekend and we will be going out again. Next weekend however I will have someone else with me, so may have an opportunity to take some pics and post them up. Here is a big Sambar Deer which was spotted on the property we hunt on recently. With any luck, the dogs will be eating Venison soon enough.