BEYOND the BLACK STUMP
It had been a long drive in the searing heat from Goondiwindi Qld and despite the 2 bags of Elissa’s homemade Jerky providing a welcome change to my own pre-prepared salad wraps, a junk food stop is in order. We pull up at a servo in Walgett to fuel up ‘Neville’, my Landcruiser ute. We get a few raised eyebrows whenever we pull up for fuel, (which is fairly often, as the only thing the V8 can’t pass is a servo). With the ute loaded to the hilters with swags, eskies, bow cases and two cartons of XXXX Gold, I assume people are staring in envy (“wish I was going hunting”), admiration, (“Gee, that’s a nice ute”), intention (“quick, grab those cartons”) or amusement (“those two girls think they are going hunting”)
But with tackle boxes full of razor sharp broad heads, we have a point to prove (excuse the pun). Despite the suggestions by smart Alec mates, (who clearly watch too many American teen movies) there would be no pillow fights, manicures or hair straightening. The only thing girly about this trip is the ‘Hunt Like a Girl’ stickers on Nev’s door pillars, and Elissa’s pink socks protruding from the tops of her new Hunters Element Foxtrot boots.
The station is situated North of Bourke, in the North-west of NSW. Straight, dusty and dry. And that’s just describing the locals! At 800km North West of Sydney, and smack bang in the semi-arid climate (i.e. annual rainfall of less than 355mm) Bourke is the real Outback. In fact, in 1903 Bourke recorded a top temperature of 49.7 degrees celcius, tying it for hottest temperature ever recorded in NSW. Bourke is so far from anything resembling softness, ensuring only the most resilient of people, flora and fauna survive here.
And for us to survive, we needed to dress to kill, but also dress to survive, and so paramount above all else was packing apparel that would provide adequate sun protection as well as moisture wicking properties to keep me dry and comfortable. The Hunters Element Prime summer long sleeve shirt gets a run first up that next morning, and opportunities abound to test the Veil Camo as we get amongst large mobs of goats in varying cover.
As we approach we spy a mob of small pigs feeding in the muddy fringes of the dam, consisting of a couple of young boars a, large boar and sow and suckers. There is good cover surrounding the dam, and, with the animal life having very little hunting pressure, we easily approach into 45 yards of the mob, before they split up to feed in different directions. With the large sow now out of bow range Elissa decides on a small black and white boar feeding amongst the branches of a fallen eucalypt at about 35 metres. We get Elissa into to 20 metres and she takes a shot. It hits a little far back, but slows him down enough to get a follow-up shot and we recover it in the grass nearby, but not without a little fancy footwork, as the feisty young boar repeatedly attempts to take a couple of bites out of our ankles before giving up the ghost.
Later on Elissa and I are strategically positioned in the pop-up blind. Picking a spot under the shade of a large tree, I had conscientiously observed rule number one of pitching a tent… look up to make sure there were no dead branches that would fall on us. Unfortunately, I forgot rule number two… look down. About two hours later, this oversight revealed probably the more deadly hazard. “What’s wrong? Do you have worms?”” asks Elissa.
Deciding that sitting on ants nests isn’t for us, we head out on foot and soon spot another mob feeding away from us. We have to walk very quickly to get in front of them and get the wind in our favour. Soon the mob split and I get to 30 yards of a white billy that is feeding with two nanny goats. With a dead tree in the way and no other cover I belly crawl 15 yards and get a clear quartering away shot. At 15 yards I stand to draw, but a nanny standing 5 yards in front of me looks up, snorts and runs off, taking her companions with her. Fortunately the billy stops at about 40 yards begins grazing again! No time wasted… he is soon positioned for a photo.
We soon find another mob of goats, and give them a minute to walk off into the scrubby cover. The scrub becomes quite thick and Elissa and I get separated. I catch up to a large white billy and position myself for a sharp quartering shot at 30 yards. Meanwhile, Elissa, unbeknown to me, is stalking another billy nearby, and my triumphant “Woo-hoo” as the Northern ‘Little Evil’ broadhead hits home, sends Elissa’s billy heading for the hills. Figuratively speaking, of course, as the closest thing to a hill I’ve seen around here is a meat-ants nest.
With the rest of the mob still nearby feeding I suggest Elissa begins a stalk on one of the other billies while I retrieve my arrow. When I catch up with her she is getting amongst it… stalking in on a group of 3 large billies. Picking the largest horned, sporting a nice grey coat and a mohowk, she takes a sharply quartering away shot at 35 yards, sinking the Black Stump broadhead low in its chest. I give Elissa a thumbs up. It is a longer shot for Elissa and she had pulled it off well. The goat is sick, but as these tough critters often do, he needs a follow-up shot to speed up the process. Elissa creeps into 15 yards for a second shot which drops him instantly.
Two happy hunters leave Bourke the next morning. Not happy be leaving, but more than content with three successful days of some of the most enjoyable hunting the Wild West has to offer.
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