Gordo, Pete, Jayden and Adam ventured into the Kaweka's to try their hand at Sika Hunting. Gordy the only hunter with prior experience on these elusive little deer. Their trip began at Heli-sika next to Poronui station on the 27th of April. With high hope the stags would still be roaring, as the hinds cycled for a second time.
The boys landed in Mangatainoka River. Greeted by a steep faced beech block, with many creek heads, clearings and slips to explore. The hut has everything you could want, especially when the last couple of trips have been fly camping! It was quickly likened to a hotel. Kitchen, potbelly, meatsafe, toilet, outdoor fire, luxury! Discussions about calling Sika, and the best way to hunt these crafty buggers filled in what was left of the first afternoon. Over a few cold beers of course.
The first day the boys discovered the bush was thick, with excessive amounts of crown fern in places, and cornflake like dried up beech leaves underfoot. Not to mention the windfall and snow damage. It was not going to be easy hunting. Jayden shot one hind the first day, after about an hour of cat and mouse. Sneaking in close enough to see her and get a shot away. A few stags were heard single calling and he-hawing but none were heard or seen sneaking in. Eye fillet sandwiches for dinner and a few brews, topped the day off nicely. The hunters were amazed at how vocal and inquisitive these deer are, sharing their days experiences around the fire.
At night the Stags roared consistently, teasing the boys into getting up early and putting on freezing wet boots. They all headed of in their different directions after a discussion about where each hunter would be. Gordon had an early close encounter with a hind. Both staring at each other, Gordo slowly loaded his rifle but couldn't get a shot away in time. Sneaky Sika...
Deer were seen or spooked by everyone in the party, but no stags unfortunately. So left for another day. The deer in this block are plentiful, so plentiful, they are very skinny. Aside from a couple of very good condition hinds that were seen moving very quickly in the opposite direction.
Jayden's first couple of days topo tracks:
Lots was learnt about the behavior of Sika over the first couple of days. Mostly by sitting still. This was far more productive than moving all the time. The boys quickly learnt, when you think you have waited long enough - wait longer! Rut pads were on most flat open terraces and right down to the creeks. Marking out the resident Stags territory. They also enjoy beating up the young native trees nearby.
The third day was a lay day to recover for most of the hunting party - nursing dodgy knees! Adam played games single calling with a stag right behind the hut, but the wind wasn't playing ball and it circled him.
Jayden went on another big walk to sit on a promising looking terrace. Forty minutes after letting out just one single call two stags snuck in. Coming from exact opposite directions. Shooting a nice four pointer as it came right in close, more venison for the stew! The other stag seemed much more apprehensive and just gave glimpses of himself, probably due to Jayden's scent wafting down that direction. It was a much bigger bodied stag than the four pointer that was taken. He became much more vocal after the shot went off, hehawing and single calling the whole walk down the ridge back to the creek.
Dinner that night was a big one pot stew, and venison, bacon and chorizo kebabs over the fire. With a few celebratory beers and a bourbon. After the firearms were away safely on the gun rack provided. Decent facilities in the hut, cheers Heli sika!
On the last couple of days the boys explored likely areas they had discovered. Jayden went up behind the hut and chased the stag his old man Adam had got onto. Gordy went across the creek and had a go at a stag Jayden had seen, but given him the slip as the wind swirled. Adam and Pete hung out down the creek in the flats which had a heap of sign. The Stags were getting quieter and quieter. Overall no luck was had. However Jayden had an interesting encounter with the 'hut stag!' No more than 300m from the hut he let out a single call. Right where Adam had spooked him the day before. However, he had to set his rifle and pack down and get the old toilet paper out. Nature had urgently called. Within two minutes a very nice looking 6 pointer came crashing in and stared at him from no more than 5 meters away! Unfortunately the rifle was about the same distance away... Amateur hour. All we can hope is he is an 8 next year!
It made for a good yarn back at camp over a nice bottle of whiskey saved for the last night! With a nice cheeseboard and another massive dinner!
Sneaky bloody Sika.
The next morning was a big clean/pack up and wait for the chopper. A great trip all round and the boys will definitely be back in there. Good hunting, cold brews, good food, and stories!