Often when words get out around hunting circles that you shot a deer, the inevitable question is always asked: where did you get that deer?
Anyone asking such a question has to be naive to believe a successful hunter is going to share the exact location.
I remember an occasion when I asked a friend where he had shot a good stag from last autumn, and his reply was: “In the shoulder.” He later told me it was not his intention to be humorously evasive.
Having said that, I never ask a successful hunter where exactly they shot their deer, and even if I do, I ask them for the general area. Most hunters will tell you of the general area they hunt in anyway. Even if they volunteered to share the exact location, I would never go there on principle. It’s bad form and unethical – almost an unspoken ‘hunters code’.
There are a lot of deer around at the moment. Many are on private land i.e. farms. To answer a question with information as to exactly which farm you got a deer is frankly being inconsiderate to the farmer. They do not want a subsequent string of phone calls requesting permission to hunt.
Find your own hunting areas and pigeonhole its location as personal information. Besides, there is public land to hunt, however, remember that you will need a permit from the Department of Conservation.
Once you’ve found your preferred area, it’s all down to how you hunt.
Deer are, like any other animals, akin to humans: warm-blooded animals with similar, basic requirements – food and shelter and – as it with animals – a sense of security with cover.
River flats are a prime example of those requirements being met. Grass and palatable shrubs on the edges of the flats is food. The trees are both shelter and cover.
A hunter should remember these basic requirements because they are clues as to the most likely areas deer will be in. You will spend time in the most likely areas and bypass the less unlikely country.
You’ll hear disappointed hunters tell of unsuccessful hunts that covered vast distances. It’s a fallacy that the more ground you walk and climb, the more animals you will see.
Deer are not evenly spread over an area and time is better spent in concentrating on areas to their liking.
The other detrimental fact in covering vast distances is that you are constantly moving. Deer may not be good at distinguishing a stationary object but they are far better than us in picking up movement.
A friend of mine is an exceptionally successful hunter, and he spends much of his time pausing and looking with binoculars, but he does with utter care and respect for the animal’s exceptional sight.
When he pauses, he ensures he has some bush or a large rock around or at least behind him and avoids being silhouetted against the sky. He ensures he’s below the ridge top, down the side of the hill.
When hunting clearings on river flats, hug the bush edge. Don’t stride through the clearing. I once hunted with an Australian chap down South Westland and on the Karangarua River flats, at each clearing, he comically burst out into the open, looking about for deer. Approach a clearing lowly and from inside cover and look for deer.
Keep inside the trees, peeking out. Use binoculars to scan ahead and naturally you should be hunting into the breeze or wind drift.