Having scored some time off of my full time job I quickly organised a hunting trip with long time Hunt & Shoot contributor and friend Sam Grimston. We made it a long weekend leaving Friday and returning on Monday.
On Friday we packed the car and left for our destination near Yass, NSW.
We have always joked that the area always gives us horrible weather and we couldn’t remember a time when we had great weather for the whole time we’d been down there. Well the further we drove south down the highway the weather became worse, we arrived to very cold temps and gale-forced winds. So on the first day we did pretty much nothing but relax in front of the fire.
The Saturday provided to be as miserable as the day we arrived but we weren’t going to let that stop us. With our CZ 452′s in hand we went and found a sheltered gully and shot some Champion Dura-seal and steel targets. It is amazing how much fun can be had with the 22lr for so cheap.
Later that afternoon we hit up a warren to get some rabbits for meat to only discover the rabbits we shot were covered in fleas and we weren’t too keen on being bitten alive by fleas carrying them back.
After a great feed on Saturday night we started to get the farm ute ready for spotlighting only to find the battery was flat. We got the truck going and set everything else up but it was not meant to be and we didn’t get a chance to go out Saturday night. Then we declared hell or highwater we were going out and covering the whole property on Sunday night to make up for our dismal attempts the previous two days.
Sunday morning saw beautiful weather for the first time of our trip. We were going to do as much as we could whilst the weather was nice.
The funny thing was is that for some reason I couldn’t hit the targets, so I put out a paper target to see why, After a few scope adjustments I was smacking the small Crow Duraseal target with ease out at 200m. It was probably a good thing we didn’t get to go out for a shot the night before as I would have been missing all over the place – Lesson Learnt: Check Zero regularly.
The afternoon saw us taking rabbits out at 180m over the warren, we would normally take them with the 22lr for the pot but due to the fleas we thought it would be fun to sit over the warren with our Tikkas and snipe a few bunnies.
It was good to see a lot of activity on the warrens as in the past few trips the warrens have even appeared completely dead but it wasn’t the case now. Restraining ourselves we took two rabbits each.
I have to say sitting over a warren is one of the most fun forms of shooting I do, I love picking a target at all sorts of distances and being able to hit it, usually the thwackkk that is sent echoing back after you see the rabbit fall through the scope is my most favourite indicator of a good and long shot. We could of shot more rabbits but we thought we’d save some for the next trip and only took two each.
After some dinner on Sunday night we pack the truck up and roll out to do our big spotlight session, the plan was that I was going to shoot one half of the property and then we would switch spots and Sam would then sit in the hot seat to shoot the other half of the property. We were planning on being out for 3 or 4 hours.
It is really cold at this stage with frosts starting to appear due to there being little to no wind and a clear sky. We soon came across a fox near some Ewes in lamb, he was high up on the hill and probably 150m away from where we spotted him. I steadied the Tikka .223 and placed the crosshairs of my Burris 6-24x50mm scope right between his eyes. He was looking straight at us as I fired, he went down without anymore movement.
A quick walk up the hill revealed it to be a big male fox that I had hit him through the eye, a great way to start off the night and hitting a fox first up always gets the blood pumping and you soon forget about the cold.
Into the next paddock we spot the unmistakable glowing eyes of another fox, only this time he is too far away, I can make him out through the scope but the Lightforce 240 couldn’t give me enough light and I couldn’t see the black crosshairs so I started to whistle him in. This presented a problem as he ran through a herd of cattle and we waited for him to come up above the hill, which he didn’t.
We move the truck and spot him again, he stops, he is still quite far away. We can’t turn the truck off as the spotlight was fading due to the battery not being 100% charged so I try to steady myself as best as I can on the door mirror. I settle in for my shot and make a crucial mistake and one that I should know by now. I fire and I miss, I was not confident of the shot and I still took it. I shouldn’t have done that now we have an educated fox.
My keenness clouded my judgement and now really the farmer and the local wildlife will pay the price for it. 2nd Lesson Learnt.
Onto the third paddock now, we cross a flat and attempt to make a creek crossing, wondering where to cross, Sam at the wheel and myself in the passengers seat… We see a set of parallel lines through some tussocks and assume that’s where we should cross.
We were dead wrong we got the truck stuck in the slick mud and we weren’t going anywhere, we tried packing under the tyres to no avail, hoping the farmer was still up we called his phone but there is no answer, we really didn’t want to tell him we had bogged his truck on a property we had both been going to for ten years but we had to. With Pete the farmer not answering we made the long walk of shame back in the cold to the farmhouse to see if he was still up. He wasn’t and that was the end of our night of spotlighting. 3rd and final lesson learnt – Stick to known and established creek crossings.
In the morning we went out and recovered the Nissan Patrol and all was good.
It was just one of those trips, things didn’t go as planned, the weather was against us for most of the trip and we made some mistakes along the way which led to us not being able to shoot as much as we would have hoped.
Did we have a good trip? Bloody Oath!
Lesson Learnt – Things don’t always go to plan, you may not get to do as much shooting as you like but a bad hunting trip (providing everyone is safe) is better than the best day at work.
Thanks Pete for being a great host!