It’s the start of the Red deer roar/rut. Your adrenaline is high, and your trip has just begun. You are anticipating the first roar and when you hear it, the first thing that comes into your head is “Red stag?
How big is his head and where he is?”
Should this be the first thought into a hunter’s head?
Your first thought should be, that could be a person now I have to prove that it's not! With the new technology these days it is very hard and sometimes impossible to tell the difference between a person and a stag. Using a Bluetooth speaker or an electronic caller which is an actual recording of a red stag there is no way to tell the difference.
A few years ago, a friend and I had a wakeup call at a very popular area during the roar. We travelled to Durville Island by bike, via the barge. When we reached our hunting destination we were met with a few other hunters rearing to get into some red stags. Over the next day the hunters began to arrive in their droves. Float planes, boats, bikes, and vehicles they just kept arriving. So, with around 20 hunters all trying to hunt a relatively small area we spent a day visiting camp sites and discussing who was hunting where so that hunters where not hunting each other (As it were), and it was safe. With everyone agreeing on areas and happy it was time to start hunting.
We got into a spot mid-afternoon hoping for some action as the sun set and the temperature dropped. A stag in our agreed area on the face above us starting roaring as the afternoon drew on. We began roaring in reply to this stag who was probably 200m away. Looking in the opposite direction from the stag back on the flat tussock we noticed something moving. Binoculars deployed, and we spotted 2 hunters crawling and running occasionally through the long grass. These were 2 guys we had spoken to earlier that day who were not supposed to be in our area. They were meant to be a few kilometres away. As we were in a shady spot they could not see us. They were about 400m away when we stepped into the open because they were looking through their scopes in our general direction. Hi-Viz being worn by us both, they quickly realised we were in fact people and not a roaring stag. They must have been very scared and shocked as they were on their feet in a flash and running in the other direction. The stag we had been roaring at had gone quiet as these guys stalking us had come in on the wrong side of the wind. These 2 guys were never seen again before we left, I think they must have been quite embarrassed and got out of there before we caught up with them.
After this experience I learnt a few lessons.
Do not trust anyone. Once someone hears a stag roar they automatically assume it’s the trophy of their dreams and they are going to shoot it even if the agreed hunting areas will be crossed. Buck fever kicks in for a lot of people and they cannot think straight.
Wear your Hi-Viz. Even if you are on a private block. Wear it. People poach areas and you never know who is around. There are different Hi-Viz colours now, blue and orange that make people easier to be seen by people, but still hard to be seen by animals. Better to be seen by hunters than shot by them. At least you will make it home.
Identify your target beyond all doubt. We are all taught this when we do our gun licenses, but again if people hear a roar they assume it’s an animal. I work on the theory that I have to see the animal in its entirety and am able to tell the sex of the animal before I even think about being able to shoot it.
Any roar you hear could be a person these days. Identify the animal fully as talked about above.
As well the obvious firearm safety rules. These are a few things I keep in my mind while hunting, especially during the roar.
The roar is my highlight of the hunting year as well as many other peoples, but remember it’s not an animal unless you completely see it and identify its sex. Even then is it moving how it should or is it on some hunters back? Make sure your sure before pulling that trigger or letting go of that arrow. BETTER TO ALL GET HOME THAN SHOOT A PERSON!!