We are living in weird times. The earth has been humbled by an invisible enemy and everything we knew to be the norm quickly changed. Our direction of life for the next while was up in the air, so a bunch of us lads thought we would go to our therapeutic place and enjoy being among New Zealand’s flora and fauna. Of course, we’d also be attempting to harvest some red gold in the form of venison, and would no doubt find the time for a few tall yarns along the way.

So, a group of ten burly blokes from different walks of life filled up our utes and ventured south of Hamilton to a private block of land run by a good rooster called J-man. A hut erected by J-man and his old man many moons ago sits at the bottom of their property among the lush, mossy forest which kisses the pristine running water of the Whakamaru Reserve. Simply beautiful. Later that evening under the stars, J-man was telling us with nostalgic tears in his eyes how at the age of 14 he helped his old man build the hut. That’s when I piped up, pointed at the hut and said, “What? That piece of s*** over there?” The boys lost it in fits of tears. Anyway…

Late afternoon the next day, we threw a couple of guns over the shoulders, made sure everyone was aware of the safety protocols and marched for the hills till we found a nice clearing we could observe from around 200 yards out. The problem with so many guys in one group is that there’s bound to be a couple of idiots who don’t take hunting seriously. The odds of us taking home no tucker was high, but morale was good and that is all that mattered in the current climate. After a short while, woodland creatures started coming out of the shrubbery for a graze. The boys were offered up the chance to take a few fallow deer that were basking in the big yellow rays, ignorant to the hungry primal eyes watching them in the clearing. Rossy and Reubs were behind the butts of the guns first as they had never been hunting before, and they were pumped to get an opportunity. Unfortunately, the arousal levels were high and both lads made a meal of their shots, giving the fallows another lease on life, which everyone found bloody amusing. After the shots echoed through the valley, we saw more movement to our left. A couple of porkers ran out into the open giving Bobby the opportunity to stand and deliver some lead into the Pied Piper of the drove of pigs. Bobby dropped him nicely, and we were stoked to have something to chuck on the spit at camp.

Back at camp headquarters, a few gents got a fire lesson from the owners of Huntech who joined the trip that night. The fire was hissing in the homemade pit, and the crew started to unwind. With the pig gutted, skinned and appropriately stuck onto a branch for the fire rotisserie, the boys set up for an evening of fabricated yarns and taking the mickey out of each other. I sat there for a second as I rotated the small trotter and thought to myself, “How bloody good is this? No wifi, Red Bands stuck to my hooves, a roaring fire, a pig we have harvested crackling away, surrounded by good buggers and away from the rat race of life. Hakuna Matata. The simple life is the best life.” After deleting the pig at pace and lubricating our throats with Waikato’s finest muddy water – Waikato Draught – the boys finally hit the hay after a good shift.

The next morning, we were up at sparrow’s fart to chase some early morning roars we heard on the way back to camp the night before – we were hopeful of bagging ourselves a stag. We split off into groups and marched into the darkness to be in position for first light. It was around 8:00 am when we got our first opportunity. A yearling and a hind were having a graze behind some shrubs. Rossy and Caneo were on the guns and both had shots at the pair of red skins. The bang brothers let the shrapnel fly and we watched as both deer keeled over in the grass. Stoked! Rossy had his first deer and was buzzing, while our hunting skip Caneo smiled like the Cheshire Cat at the result.

 

We dressed the deers and the boys sweated out the beers from the night before with a huge carry out of the bush. We got to camp satisfied and salivating. Some boys had a rinse Wim Hof-style in the river, others attacked the eggs and bacon in the hut and some of the other lazy buggers flicked a line in the river at a few trout, to no avail. With the day coming to an end, we were off to settle into our own bubbles for the next five weeks, but it was enough of a taste to leave us gagging for more. Till next time.

Article by: Ant Niterl