Getting Prepared For Your Hunting Trip | New Zealand

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Date: in Hunting

Preparing for your latest hunt is just as important as the actual trip. Without the right equipment and preperations, a once in a lifetime hunting trip might not live up to your expectations. Here, Team Wild Expert Jonathan Scott takes us through his way of making sure he is fully prepared for his latest trip – New Zealand style! 

The Roar (rut) has rolled around again in New Zealand. The exact time of the start of the rut is hard to predict, but it coincides with the Autumn Equinox drawing in the darkness in earlier, and the first good cold nights.

Rumour has it that that the red deer hinds start to cycle due to a combination of these longer nights/shorter days, and cold frosts. They have been stripping off their velvet and their antlers will have firmed up nicely. The stags will have also started to split up from their male groups and move away in their search for the ladies; the older, wiser fellas will be already heading to their favourite spots to prepare for the challenges to come.

Unlike a virile human male, who shaves, showers and then plasters himself in the best cologne Boots can supply, Mr Stag finds a nice wet, muddy hole which he can add bodily fluids and scent from his glands, before rolling in it to ensure that he has the best Eau de Stag all over him. Hmm, the ladies won’t be able to resist him. Then it’s off to the best vantage spot at the top of some spur, where he can vocally declare his manliness to the ladies and ward off any would-be challengers.

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Image courtesy of Wiki Media Commons

Likewise, with the impending roar upon us, most husbands have been stocking up on brownie points. We will have done all the odd jobs, walking the fine line of being helpful and being a nuisance. Some of us more keen fools have even been in the garage practicing our roaring with whatever tool we think best to imitate Mr Big. For myself, I have a 12inch piece of ribbed hose from an old vacuum cleaner. It certainly looks like the throat of a big red stag, so why shouldn’t it sound like one. I have taken it to a deer farm I get to carry out pest control on, and spent a bit of time imitating the young spikers. What better way to wind up an old master, than pretend to be a young upstart! As the time draws near and we become like expectant fathers. Maps have been scoured over, weather forecasts examined. Annual leave has been cleared with the boss AND “the boss”. Boots are cleaned, clothes are washed, the rifle is sighted in and now it’s time to pack for the big event. Packing is a big event all on its own.  What goes into the rucksack depends on the type of trip.

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This year I am pretty much going back to the same area as last season however, the trip will be a reverse sequence of last year. You may remember in my last blog, that I was setting up a game camera in a location where we knew of a stag but were unsure of his size. So for the first 4 days of this trip, we will be walking into the area of the game camera, to check the images in order to ascertain his condition and antlers. If we are lucky we may be on the money and have a chance at a trophy but if he’s not been back we will probably stay the night, glass the hills and hike back to the truck the following day.

The trip involves a climb of 600m to a campsite at 1300m, so I will be packing for a 4 day excursion but minimal weight. I have been training for this climb since Christmas, though not so much over the last 2 weeks due to a back strain. My pack will contain just enough food, clothing and equipment to get through this short stint. Weight saving is the name of the game when hunting high, there is no room for many spares, I even remove half the toothbrush shaft to safe space and a precious few grams.

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So what does one pack? Food – minimal but nourishing. Clothing – minimal but try to cover all bases. Warm and light. Our weather could range from 25deg C during the day to -3 at night. So I will wear one set of clothing and only add an extra layer or two for cold nights, or sitting still glassing in poor weather. There won’t even be space for a change of undies (though I wear Merino boxers – never cotton when hunting). My Realtree Blaze windproof fleece and realtree blaze peaked hat from Stoney Creek are essential items during the roar. Hunter fratricide is becoming more common, so identifying your target is No1 priority. I like the blaze orange as it stands out on the tops from a long way to the human eye.  In my pack will be a primaloft filled light-weight body vest. It has the warmth of down but isn’t affected by damp like down, and its lightweight. I also have a micro fibre merino beanie for the cold and a pair of realtree long-sleeve under-armor gloves. This year I also added a pair of light-weight waterproof over trousers in Realtree APG, and a new Torrent water proof jacket from Core 4, also in Realtree APG. It’s only 400gms, more weight shaved.

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The next items and by far the most bulky – food is always difficult to settle. I have to eat a Gluten Free diet – so I have to be quite picky in order to balance weight and nutrition. In summary, my daily menu will be:

– 2 sachets instant flat white coffee,

– Snacks consisting of 50gms dried banana & 100gms of dried mango.

– Mixed nuts, cereal bar, instant porridge.

– Lunch is biltong or Droewoers sausage.

– Dinner is a dehydrated meal from BackCountry Foods, they have excellent choices of Gluten Free meals, and best of all they weight about 80-110g each and can be rehydrated and eaten from their packet.

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The total daily weight equals 600g. Excluding drinking water, I will need 1L of water simply for the coffee, porridge and rehydrating my evening meal.  Unfortunately at such altitudes, water is the rarest commodity. The closest stream is a 400m descent and ascent back again to camp, so I will have to pack in 4L of water to last me 2 days and come down for a resupply afterwards. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

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Other items include, down sleeping bag, silk liner, bag cover, a siltarp fly to sleep under, torch & spare batteries, first aid pack, radio, GPS and emergency beacon (PLB). Of course I also will be carrying a reasonably good pair of 10×42 binoculars and a rangefinder, along with my rifle and 20rds of ammo.

Remember when hunting on big trips, it’s important to get balance the calories with the weight and take some little treats to look forward to back in the sleeping bag, in my case I’ll have a hip flask of my favourite single malt. Slanche!

 

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