Southern Alps hunting blog
The sole purpose of this trip was to get out for a good walk and bring back a freezer load of venison. After packing the last of my gear into the motorbike pannier bags, I layered up with thermals preparing to meet the rain on my way to the Southern Alps. Passing rivers and tributaries that were swollen and angry installed optimism that few would be interested in venturing out this way and that I would have the destination valley to myself. I rode as far as the road would go, pulled up, loaded the backpack and set off on foot. About 2 hours up and bluffed into the first river crossing which nearly took out my legs, it was well up and running fast. Although it was probably passable at this point I knew there were many other crossings worse than this one further up and this was a gamble I was not willing to take by myself, especially while rain was still falling. Plan B, a fly camp was set up, and I prepared for an evening stalk.
Bluffed to a very swift crossing
Fly campimg was plan B, the safer option
As dusk approached I set off up a valley with much smaller water flow carefully glassing small flats as I approached each bend. Very little sign was seen, none of which was fresh. As darkness finally closed in I took the easier bush way back using my GPS to guide me to camp.
Morning broke and the previously impassable river was still well up, but almost half the size due to lack of rain overnight. Leaving just the fly and sleeping mat in case I could not get up all the way the valley, the pack was reloaded and I was off to the originally planned destination. Finding places to crisscross the river over 25 times made for slow progress, but I persevered due to the fresh sign encountered. Five hours in and a large clearing was reached, although it was 11:30 a.m. it had been lightly raining on and off with sun showers the entire time so the chance of a deer even at this late time was possible. Sitting and glassing soon paid off as a fawn came tearing from the bush line into sight, had a couple of playful leaps, then disappeared back into the bush line. Readjusting my view, two hinds slowly and cautiously entered the clearing, one large, one small. I soon established that the larger more mature hind mothered the fawn so I let her be. Establishing a shooting platform from a nearby tree I began to line up the smaller hind grazing approximately 180m away. The entire morning I had been walking into a head wind, however whether the wind was shifting or just swirling from this location, out of nowhere small gusts of wind pushed from behind me towards the two hinds. I knew I had to be quick to avoid being scented so I lined her up and let fire. Dropping to her feet as she stood I knew the shot was bang on sealing the deal for a freezer load of venison.
Once the boning-out was done I began the trip back down the valley. Almost as soon as I took the first step the rain set in, and hard. With concerns of the river rising and becoming stranded I put the pace on and made it back to the fly camp in 2 1/2 hours. Pretty shattered after carrying the extra load at that pace I reluctantly added more weight of the fly and sleeping mat and began the walk back to the motorbike. 2 hours later I arrived at the bike and loaded in the venison. With limited fuel tank size and no fuel stations open, I had to wait till the morning to refuel so I shot up to a nearby hut for a comfy nights sleep and to dry out my gear. Arriving at the hut just after 9pm my legs were painfully letting me know it was a big days walk.
Solid rain all night made a pretty interesting trip on the way out the next day and I ended up drowning the bike tank deep in one of the many flooded streams I had to cross in the process. After an array of forcefully muttered swear words while pulling the bike out and getting it going again, I was off, bringing to a close a very successful trip
A nice warm hut to dry out my gear
Packed up ready for the ride home loaded with venison