9 August 2023
Hunting and Wildlife Magazine - Summer Issue 219
Words By: Jared Matthews
It was late March and the 2022 Roar was starting to ramp up.
Dad and I were all set to head into some Central Otago high country. I finished work early on the Friday and met Dad in Omarama and we headed in for a look.
Dads big thirteen pointer was one of the highest calibre and thoroughly deserved after years of passing up good animals.
Glassing over a massive tussock plateau, I spotted a set of antlers thrashing around in a wallow. They looked to have three on top.
Big Otago country like this can look devoid of animals but look hard enough and you may be surprised at what’s there.
Immediately I got my spotter out for further inspection. We decided I should stalk in and have a crack at him!
Dad was keeping me updated on the stag’s whereabouts over the radio, as he stayed back, roaring occasionally to keep the stag’s attention off me sneaking through the tussocks in full view.
Dad stalked this nice big ten pointer which was holding at least 10 hinds but decided to leave him.
He was moving away from us, chasing some hinds, so I made quick time across the valley to close the distance. After a few kms of bashing through high tussock and matagouri and doing a lot of huffing and puffing, I finally crested a small ridge and identified the stag following some hinds out of a thick tussock gut.
With nothing to rest on in the high tussock, and no time to bugger around I took the shot off my knee.
By some miracle I managed to hold steady on the base of the neck, and the stag was on the deck immediately.
He was a nice royal 12 pointer.
The next morning was an early start heading into a valley that Dad thought would hold a few animals and sure enough he was right!
We sat high on a ridge as the sun was coming up and heard several roars coming from down the valley. A couple of kms below us was a nice big ten pointer which was holding at least 10 hinds.
Dad stalked into 300m but radioed up saying his tines weren’t strong enough and that he was going to leave him!
Big call I thought, as they were an impressive set of antlers, but good on him!
We carried on deeper into the gully and spotted another couple of younger stags that were safe from us.
As we got closer to the main river the terrain turned fairly steep. Glassing through the rocky outcrops I spotted three hinds on a sharp point out in the sun. There was no sign of a stag or any roars, so we carried on down. After spotting these hinds I wasn’t satisfied that there wasn’t a stag with them somewhere.
So, for the next ten minutes as we were walking further down the ridge, I’d quickly throw my binos up and look back to where the hinds were standing.
Sure enough, this time I put my binos up and holy heck, there goes a big set of antlers sticking out of the tussock!
I whisper to Dad to “stop” (which in hindsight was a waste of time due to his lack of hearing!) and then gave him an abrupt tap on the shoulder. From what I’d seen of the antlers I knew he was a stag we didn’t want to spook!
They were 500m away across a nasty gully and unaware of our presence, the wind was good, so I got my spotter out for a closer look.
As soon as I said to Dad, “there’s four on top” he was off!
The big 12-pointer I took was living on a massive tussock plateau way out in the open.
I knew after years of hunting with Dad, and many nice animals being turned down, that this was a stag of the highest calibre and one Dad deserved!
He was stalking across the gully to a rocky spur, which would be the best place for a shot at around 150 yards.
The stag was sitting down on a bluffy face and quartered away from us with no chance of a shot.
His hinds kept watch over the terrain below.
I gave a small roar -which didn’t raise any interest from the stag. I followed with a more aggressive roar and the stag stood up looking across the gully at me, unaware of Dad sitting tight around the face from him.
He let rip with a big reply.
I gave him another roar bringing him over the small rocky ridge into Dad’s view-
presenting Dad with a front on shot.
Dad’s 7mm-08 spoke and a well-placed shot in the base of the neck dropped the big fella on the spot! A perfect plan and stalk.
Walking up to the stag, he was bloody impressive and so was Dad’s grin.
He had taken a ripper old 13 pointer with heavy timber!
We were happy boys. We got the photos, meat and head skinned him out on the side of a near vertical face, which was a bloody challenge with a big old beast like this.
Then we endured a heavy carry straight back to the hut.
The terrain got steeper, and the stag got bigger after a few cold ones that night!
The next few days we spent looking over a few promising animals, but we were both happy with the stags we had managed to secure!
This was certainly a trip to remember.
This fella is going on Dad’s wall and will be a hard one to beat!