A Magical Weekend
8 March 2023
Hunting and Wildlife Magazine - Issue 218 Spring
Words By: Joan Hoana
I was delighted to read on my email that a Ladies Hunting Trip was on. It was being held over Anzac weekend and knowing we were staying at Rakiura Lodge down Southland way just made it more exciting. I couldn’t wait.
I had the best sleeping bag plus the best of everything I needed packed and ready for an adventure. Meeting up with other ladies gave me that extra boost and strength, knowing that we were all there to achieve our purpose. Hopefully someone in the group would make it happen and take a game animal. Over the four days the weather Gods sent us a shower of rain, wind and snow, it was really cold. Luckily, whoever was back at the lodge kept the wood burner cranked up. Oh man it was a blessing; our accommodation had all the facilities we needed. There was however no success for me on the Saturday.
On the Sunday I decided to get the fly rod out and maybe go fishing for the day. The Oreti River looked perfect, low and fishable but the Gods sent me winds. It was so windy I stuck around at the lodge thinking I needed something to get me going. Most of the girls had headed away early to hunt for the day. By 3pm, Tash Black, the youngest in the group asked me if I’d like to get out and just glass around with our binoculars. I said “Ok, I’m happy to do that”. So off we went in her 4WD truck. By 4pm, I can’t remember who said, “let’s go for a hunt’’. The weather had cleared up and the wind was in our favour. We grabbed our rifles and backpacks and away we went.
25 minutes of walking along an easy access was just a cruise. As we got closer to our hunting area, we started to climb towards the bush edge when suddenly Tash spotted a Fallow to her right. It was standing there on the bush edge looking straight down at us. My hunting mate quickly dropped down on her stomach and loaded up her Ruger Youth .308 rifle, sighted upwards towards her target and fired. It was so loud I had to unfreeze myself from standing very still. We got up to where it had been standing but there was no sign of blood. Tash was a bit disappointed but was certain she had that deer in her sights. We decided to follow where it had gone back into the bush. Well guess what, blood thick as. We stepped a couple of feet back into the bush and there it was, Tash’s first Fallow, a 14-point buck. This was a ‘well done Tash time.’
The cameras came out and talking loudly while cutting off the head, etc. we carried meat back down to a flat area and laid it out on a log to be picked up later. There was still plenty of daylight left, at least an hour to hunt. We were stalking again when 15 minutes into the hunt and looking out to the open tussock flats, I spotted a deer moving. All I could see was antlers on a big deer. I pointed out to my hunting mate where the deer was, she replied in a whispering voice, “it’s a Red deer”. I slowly made my way up to a big log and rested the Howa 1500 6.5 Grendal on it, loaded up and waited for the stag to come up the riverbank to our side. As it appeared, I fired at its shoulder area, and it reared up. Thinking I had him, I stood up. Well, that deer was still very much alive and disappeared for a few seconds behind a bunch of bushes and then came back up the riverbank to our side again. I was ready and waiting, a running shot this time. Boom, I fired and thought to myself we are not going to find it. I knew I’d hit him with the first shot, but it had disappeared back into the bush. Having a great hunting partner, she’d had her eyes on it all the way. By the time I reached the bush she was already standing there waiting for my face to light up. A nice 10 point Red stag!
We did our high fives then because daylight was rapidly disappearing. The torches were out with the cameras and then we quickly got stuck into cutting off the head, backsteaks and back legs. We hung the meat to pick up in the morning. It was 9pm by the time we got back to the lodge. The girls were pretty keen to find out if we had shot an animal because we only had one morning hunt left. Well, the thrills on their faces just made it all worthwhile. Most of all, the person who organised this weekend hunt showed me how proud and happy she was over the achievements of everyone who had participated in the weekend.
This hunting trip turned out to be successful for every lady who came along and made it happen. Yes ladies, we are hunters and that’s what we came here for. Tash and I cheered our hunt with her bottle of Ginger Beer and my can of Diet Coke. I’m certainly looking forward to many more hunting trips.