My 2019 fallow deer rut in Australia

Wilderlife

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Hi all,

I haven't posted a report for a fair while and I keep forgetting that this forum exists, so I figured I'd make a post with all of the progress of my fallow deer rut for 2019. I'll do it in installments as I have a heap of pictures from scouting various properties over summer, and I've had 2 successful hunts for the rut so far. I also now have mostly two weeks off to hunt so there will be plenty more to come.

I'll start with a little bit of the scouting.

Here in NSW, Australia, the regulations for deer hunting have recently been relaxed. You still need an R license to hunt deer on both private and public land, or just a G license if you want to hunt on private land (landowners and employees of landowners are exempt from the license). Until recently, with an R or G license, you weren't allowed to shoot fallow and red deer between November first and March the 1st of the following year. You also weren't allowed to shoot deer from a vehicle or shoot them at night using a spotlight as an aid. These regulations have recently been dropped as the deer are in enormous numbers and we are going through the worst drought ever. So with that background, in a lot of my summer scouting I was also shooting deer on one particular property as the farmer wants me to remove heaps.

So far for the year I've shot (or people with me have shot) 19 deer, and 16 of them have been from one property. I still need to shoot heaps more.

A typical summer day for me was loading up my pack with a bit of gear and doing some big walks in areas I like to hunt, to get an idea of how many does were in the area, how much feed was in the area, and also put up some trail cameras. It was always around the 40 degrees celcius mark (104F) so I was reminding myself that the weather would be toughening me up. I'm also doing a huge hike in Papua New Guinea with my brothers in September so I looked at all of this as training for that.

I found this dead head when scouting one day.


This is typical of one of the properties I hunt.


Despite the drought, the deer have been in good condition over summer. Here is my brother with a couple he shot.


It all gets loaded up and packed out.




 
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Wilderlife

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Here is a spiker I shot while out scouting with my partner one afternoon.


He was in great condition.


This was my first time ever messing about with trail cameras so that was good fun.












And of course, plenty of deer.


This one was mainly to try and catch some pig activity.
 
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Wilderlife

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Pigs at most of my properties are opportunistic, and they're also fairly well shoot on sight. Because of the drought at the moment they're all in terrible condition and living off a lot of carrion. They'd still be edible but I have a freezer full of venison and I don't need the meat.



This boar was the first animal I shot with my .300WM that I bought off a friend of mine.


I shot this big fella with a mate of mine at night while we walked around with torches.


The pig at one spot were living under a peach tree.


Another skinny sow.


I shot her as she ran up hill. The shot hit her in the lower back and dropped her on the spot. I recovered the bullet from the back of her jaw.


All that was left of the pig after I shot it the week before. They don't mind eating their mates.


My brother is doing the walk in PnG as well so he was keen to get a sweat on.


Messing around with some night photography at camp.


Another camera set.
 
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Wilderlife

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I was gearing up big time to hunt the fallow rut with my compound bow. I bought it about a year ago and shot a few pigs with it last year. Unfortunately for me, I accidentally dry fired it and broke it! I can only blame myself, as well as being very tired and careless.

I did get it out for a scout on the deer before I broke it, though. This was early March and the deer were in hard antler so if I came across one I'd definitely have a crack. I ended up executing my plan well and got to within about 40 metres of a mob of bucks, exactly where I knew they would be as a result of all the scouting I did, but I stuffed it at the last minute and blew them out.

I found some casties while doing it.


After I'd blown the afternoon stalk I went to a big paddock where I knew I'd see more game. I got onto a small mob of pigs and shot the biggest one. This sow was in exceptionally poor condition.


The shot hit her in the guts on the on side and exited in front of her shoulder on the off side.




The section of scrub I was hunting held a good mob of bucks and they were still hanging out together until a couple of weeks ago when they moved out in search of does. I got this picture on one of my cameras, and I'm surprised I didn't get more. Maybe the trail I put it on wasn't being used as much as I thought.


With March well and truly here, things were cooling down a tad and it was a bit more comfortable being out and about chasing deer. I went looking with some mates of mine one weekend and all we found were rub trees and cast antlers.









Oh, and we shot some pigs, too!


My partner is also a keen hunter and we've been hunting/scouting frequently in the lead up to the rut, as well as helping the farmer muster cattle in the drought.



While I waited for my partner to walk up a ridge, these two fellas found me. I left my rifle at the car and had my dog with me on a leash, so my partner missed out unfortunately. Only little fellas anyway and better to let them grow more.


Breakfast back at the farm shack before mustering.


I love mustering cattle on horseback almost as much as I love hunting. It's also a good way to see a lot of the country and scout if you want to save your legs from all the walking.




A picture of my dog, just because.


On the back of the farmer's ute dropping feed for cattle.
 

MadDawg

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I love good write-ups! especially ones of Australia! I want to go so bad I cant stand it..keep it up!
 
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Wilderlife

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Glad you like it, mate. There is plenty more to come!

Now for the hunting of the rut for this year...

I went out for a poke around for an afternoon/morning hunt in late March. With the heat and drought, I was worried the rut wouldn't really have much activity, but on the morning of the Saturday the entire area got a good soaking of rain (1-2 inches or so) and the temperature was dropping for our first cool weather of the year. I went for a quick walk at one of my main properties in a very productive paddock and found a decent mob of deer, yet no bucks were with them. I skirted around them a fair way and ended up seeing 2 young bucks (similar to what is pictured above) come out from the scrub and into the open right when the light was fading. I had them lined up at about 60 yards with my .30-30 but decided to let them go and keep looking. I didn't see anything else but went back to set up camp and felt good about the next day.

Sitting by an iron bark fire with my beloved landcruiser and .30-30.


While I was drinking Drambuie next to the fire, I heard a few faint croaks. That got me keen. I also woke in the night in the back of my ute and had to put some extra layers of clothing on as I was getting a bit cold. I hadn't yet taken my summer sleeping bag out of my swag and replaced it with something warmer.

I went out well before the sun was up and ran into some pigs on my way to the deer. I would have shot them but shooting with iron sights in the dark is nearly impossible, and it was too much of a hassle to fumble with my headlamp. I continued on to the big paddock where I was the previous afternoon. I counted over 40 does and 4 bucks, and some of the bucks were croaking. They were only little fellas and they hadn't quite mobbed up the does into separate little harems yet, and the absence of at least one mature buck was a good indicator that the rut wasn't in full-swing yet, as he would have beat the crap out of the little fellas.

Here are some pictures from the paddock.








I skirted around the paddock again and found some great rub trees.




I sat in the thick stuff and rattled a bit. One of the little bucks from the paddock came in. I'd actually spooked a few of the does into the scrub and moved fast enough to cut them off and see if the buck that moved with them was interested in the rattles. If he came closer I probably would have shot him but it was ncie to watch him from about 50 metres through the thick stuff.


More sign.




I didn't see anymore deer but I did put some trail cameras up at some hot spots so I'm super keen to go and check those out. I'll get there on Tuesday afternoon so they will have been out for just over 2 weeks, so that's like waiting to open Christmas presents!

I went home after that, very happy with the deer numbers I was seeing and optimistic about the coming weeks.
 
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Wilderlife

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Plenty more to come yet, mate! I'll post up the rest of the stuff over the next few days but I'll be hunting a lot in the coming weeks so hopefully I have more to put up soon.

My first time properly hunting the deer in the rut was with my partner. She has recently bought her first rifle - a Mauser M18 in .243, shooting Tikka 90gn factory ammo. I was super keen to get her out onto some deer so we made a plan to go to one of my mountain blocks to see what we could find.

We walked around for a few hours on the afternoon of the first weekend in April. A few croaks were heard but nothing sustained at all. The rut was just starting to kick off a bit in this area, which is probably about 100km at least (as the crow flies) from where I was posting about in my previous post. The weather had also warmed up a bit.

We found this fox as we were walking.


This property is only small at about 850 acres, but it's almost entirely scrub and mountains, so it holds plenty of good opportunities. Here are some pictures of what the scenery looks like.







We walked a lot of the property and found ourselves at a corner in one of the boundaries as the light was fading. The scrub next to us erupted with a buck croaking as he got out of bed. All the croaks we'd heard previously were 'out there' but this one was right here. When you're close, the croak sort of vibrates the bush and hits you in the chest.

Anyway, we got my partner to rest her rifle on a log and I sat about 10 metres behind her and gave a rattle. We'd lost sight of him over a ridge so didn't quite know where he'd come from. He tore in from behind some scrub and a lot further up the ridge, like a freight train. He was looking for a fight. He ended up running past where my partner would have a shot and sat in a small gully about 20 metres from us, tearing up the ground and barking at whatever he thought may be around. My girlfriend didn't have a shot so we had to wait him out, and as he walked back up the ridge towards his girls, my girlfriend shot him from about 120 metres. It was one of the most exciting hunts I've ever had.



It was dark by the time we got to him and took some photos so we decided to get a fire going to give us some ambient light while we butchered him up. It was reasonably cool but the weather hadn't properly cooled off yet. We just enjoy having a fire while out in the bush.



I stuffed around getting some photos of my girlfriend taking his backstraps out.





In Australia, we don't have any legal requirements whatsoever regarding the taking of meat when out hunting. Most deer hunters take some meat, but you don't get in trouble if you shoot a deer and leave it to rot, besides maybe copping flack from other hunters. When I'm out specifically chasing meat, I will often shoot from a vehicle with the use of a spotlight and a small rifle (.222) so I can confidently hit deer in the head. In doing this, I can utilise as much meat as possible, be confident of a good hit, easily recover multiple carcasses. Having said that, when out hunting properly the way I enjoy it, we usually just shoot for lungs and/or shoulders. I like shoulder shots as it makes deer drop in their tracks, but when you use a large rifle like me (.300WM is fairly big for fallow-sized game) the shoulders are usually wrecked.

So with all that being said, my partner shot this buck right behind the shoulder. There was a lot of damaged meat on his shoulders so we took his backstraps and back legs and packed them out. Because I'm in training for my PnG hike, I insisted I carry both his back legs and backstraps and his head back to camp.

Here is a picture of me loaded up (minus the head).


I should really weigh my pack when it's loaded like that one of these days. I'd have to say it'd easily be over 40 kilograms (close to 100 pounds). It took us an hour to walk back to camp in the dark, and we avoided a lot of the elevation variation by following one of the creeks.

Back at camp enjoying a beer with my partner and my dog.


The head after skinning/capping it. Not a monster at all, but a beautiful head all the same, and a fantastic hunt.






I went out with my .30-30 the following morning but didn't have any luck besides finding these rubs/scrapes.





Thanks for looking everyone.

I had a fantastic hunt yesterday morning (13/4/2019) that I'll post about soon as well. Cheers.
 

locofife

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That looks awesome! I'd love to hunt other countries, but I can barely afford to hunt in-state here. Great write-up and pictures.
 
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Wilderlife

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That looks awesome! I'd love to hunt other countries, but I can barely afford to hunt in-state here. Great write-up and pictures.
We have it pretty good here in Australia. Access to private properties can be hard to come by but I have a job in a rural area so I manage to get myself some good spots. Our public land hunting is affordable for sure but a lot of our public land isn't open for hunting. Having said that, we do have good public land opportunities in some states and I started out hunting public land before I got private access.

Good times !
It certainly has been good times, mate. I just got back from being out bush again for about 3 days and I have 3 more bucks on the ground - two to me and one to my girlfriend. We also got some great pictures and video of the whole thing. I'll write that all up soon but I also need to add some stuff to this thread that happened last week.


When you refer to the PNG hike are you talking about the Kokoda trail ?
Yes, mate. My brothers and I are walking the Kokoda trail. It's significant for Australians historically and we're really looking forward to it. I'm interested to know whether or not I'm the first person intending on doing it with an Exo pack. I'm hunting as much as possible to get myself fit enough to be able to enjoy the trek. So far 5 bucks killed and packed out of mountains in less than 2 weeks so I'm feeling fairly strong/fit.
 
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Wilderlife

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On my first day off for my 2 week holiday stint, I went to check out a new property I gained access to recently. I'd only been there once previously and was driven around by the landowner for about 30 minutes, just to show me the lay of the land. We didn't walk any of it and the boundaries weren't real clear, but the country is massive so I figured I'd have a good crack at getting around there soon enough.

I pulled the ute up about 4:30am on the Saturday morning and when I got out I could hear a couple of bucks croaking. Stoked! I knew the place held a few deer now anyway.

I went for a big walk down into a valley and back out again and found a young buck holding some does. He was croaking fairly steady for the rut wasn't in full swing yet so it all seemed fairly casual. I glassed him up a little and decided that I didn't feel like ending my morning so early and went on a big walk up the hill. When I got to the top I found a fence and a gate and it looked like a boundary so I went back down to shoot the young buck but I ended up carelessly stalking around the front of the hill and some of his girls spotted me and took off. Bummer!

This is what some of the country I was walking in looked like.






I then went for a massive walk around the back of the property. The hills are pretty big, as you can see, and I had my pack loaded up with a stove and some food should I feel like having a break at the top of a hill. At the back of a big cliff section I found heaps of great rub trees and the country looked really good for deer stalking.







I was getting a really long way from my vehicle but I had crossed a river and was keeping it in my mind every time I reached a peak and had a long, so I was confident I could find my way back easily enough. I did take my GPS with me but it sucks and the batteries ran out anyway.

I got into some thicker stuff right up the back in a ravine and could hear a few more bucks croaking. It was exciting, and there were does scattered everywhere so the stalking was difficult. I glassed up one fella who looked promising but hearing some croaking behind me was enough to make me want to leave him and have a look at the next fella. I told myself that if the other one was no good, I could probably come back and shoot this one.

On my walk down into the ravine I was stopped short by a small buck walking straight towards me. He was only young and one of his antlers was broken from fighting, and I was disappointed to think that he was the one I had been hearing, but as he stopped and looked at me from about 10 metres, I could hear another buck down in the thick stuff behind a blackberry bush. I froze for a little while but then decided "stuff it!" and just walked right past the little buck. I hoped he'd spook around the face of the mountain, but instead, he trotted right down towards where the other croaking was. This worked out OK for me as it made an absolute monster buck come out from the thick stuff to chase the young bloke off. I raised my binos and after a split second I could tell this buck was a good one, so I raised my rifle and shot him. He took off a little way down the ravine but piled up after about a 20 metre dash. I didn't realise what a monster he was until I walked up to him and it all began to sink in. He was a bloody cracker!

A photo in the sun.


A photo in the shade.


Taking his backstraps.


Cooking up some noodles and coffee.


A few bits of projectile I recovered from the front of his chest.


All packed up and ready for the walk back.


Time to get the legs working!


It was a super heavy load (head, backstraps, and back legs) and my legs were tired afterwards, but it felt great. He was the second buck I packed out of the mountains this rut (currently up to 5 bucks) but the walk with this big fella has been the steepest and most tiring for sure.
 

Shockwave31

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Too hot for me! Whitetail in the Midwest opens when it's still 90* or better and the deer are pretty much bedded until dark

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 
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Wilderlife

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It's much cooler now mate, but yes; hunting in the Australia summer is fairly harsh. It'd be much the same as summer in a lot of parts of the USA I guess.
 
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Wilderlife

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Glad you like it, mate. I've been in talks with at least one bloke from the USA about the possibility of doing swap hunts.

I'll post about more deer hunting later. I shot another two bucks and my girlfriend shot one more this season.
 
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Wilderlife

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This is the second best buck I took this rut, but the hunt was maybe even more enjoyable than the big fella I posted about above.

I was out early one morning with my dad, well before the sun came up. We walked into an open paddock surrounded by scrub and could hear one buck croaking continuously, and a couple of others around the place but not moving around the paddock with as much authority. We sat in the scrub and watched as the big one making the most noise moved around the paddock keeping the does in check and chasing off the younger fellas. I was carrying my Winchester 94 in .30-30 with iron sights, so shooting into the open paddock was out of the question as it was further than I am comfortable shooting that rifle. He ended up going under a fence and into a scrubby paddock so dad and I pushed on.

We saw a few more deer and heard plenty more going off in the hills but not much happened for the next couple of hours. We started doing a big loop back to the original paddock and when we weren't too far from it we heard some really loud croaking in the thick pine near where the big chocolate buck went under the fence. I wasn't sure which buck it was making the noise but decided to sit behind some cover and give a rattle. This late in the rut, rattling doesn't work as well sometimes, but I figured there were enough does spread throughout the scrub that the big fella might want to investigate what the noise was and chase off younger bucks. To my surprise, the buck came racing in, and I shot him at about 20 metres with the .30-30.

It was a great hunt to share with my dad as he got a lot of great pictures/video and he is a big fan of the old .30-30, too.

I'll post a few pictures but we also made a video which tells more of the story.













Loaded up for the walk out - my 3rd buck to be packed out this rut.




Here is the video, for those interested.
 
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