Learning The Ropes

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Accomplished bowhunter Rohan Szpitalak recounts his girlfriend Amba's introduction to the hunt. A nice story.

The humble rabbit is not an easy target for first-timers, but with Rohan's instruction, Amba is off to a flying start.
The humble rabbit is not an easy target for first-timers, but with Rohan's instruction, Amba is off to a flying start.
Spending time in the bush hunting and fishing is my favourite way to spend any chance I get. This time is usually spent with my dad, Matt, Lloyd or girlfriend Amba. The next few paragraphs are about a few trips that Amba and myself have had around our hometown of Walcha. Amba is originally from Newcastle and spent most of her school holidays at her grandparents place in Yetholme. Her Pa used to take her shooting for rabbits and foxes and fishing in the surrounding dams

The biggest critter Amba had shot so far was a fox. So she was keen to try her skills on a few goats so we set aside a saturday arvo after we cut a load of wood. On the drive out I explained where to aim on the goats to hit them in the heart/lungs. Once we arrived at the property we set off around the side of a hill which always holds good numbers of goats. It didn't take long to find our quarry and we both eased within 60m of half a dozen goats. I thought getting her within shooting distance would be the difficult thing. What I didn't think about was she had never rested a rifle against the side of tree for a rest, all her shooting was done from a vehicle. Luckily we had a consistent breeze and We could take our time getting it sorted out. When ready, she squeezed the trigger on my Brno .223 and took the goat through the shoulders resulting in a quick clean kill. Amba was really excited and I was very proud her! We took a few photos and moved on looking for a few more. Whilst we were looking over a large mob she said to me 'Can I just shoot them in the head? Pa always says to shoot for the head'. I told her to go for it but was secretly a bit skeptical of her ability. She let her shooting do the talking for the rest of the day, She shot another 3 goats all in the head out to distances of around 120m. We called into another property on the way home for a quick fish in a stocked dam. She was using a surface lure and landed her first murray cod just on dark.

 

3. Author Rohan has honed his skills to a high level to be able to reliably bow-shoot wary foxes.
3. Author Rohan has honed his skills to a high level to be able to reliably bow-shoot wary foxes.

 

Our next outing was on a property only 10 minutes from home. This property is an active sheep farm and during lambing the owners have alot of hassle with foxes, so they are happy for me to get rid of as many as I can. We didn't bring a gun this time just my compound bow, Amba was keen to see me put something on the deck with it. Our first few stands proved uneventful but our 4th worked a treat. We both positioned ourselved in front of a stringy bark tree and with an arrow nocked I began whistling. After 30 seconds I saw a red coat come tearing in, I whispered to Amba 'We're on'! and backed off on the whistling. The fox jumped over a log 25m in front of us and kept snooping in until I let out an oi! and shot her front on from 12m. She covered a short distance and was down for the count. She was a good size vixen and it was a cool way to introduce Amba to bowhunting.

A warm summers day lured us out in the bush for our next hunt. We packed the esky, bow, 7mm rem mag, .22, canoe and fishing rods into the hilux and headed out for the day. This property has good numbers of rabbits, foxes and a few pigs. There is also the bonus of a river running through it so there is plenty of trout fishing to be had as well. We ran into the owner on the way down and he said to put the .22 in the front because there was a stack of bunnies. Luck wasn't on our side when we didn't see one rabbit but busted a mob of pigs and without the 7mm handy they got away unscathed. We parked down on the river and went for a paddle, we took the rods but couldn't raise a fish. All we saw were two black snakes sunning themselves. After lunch we went in search of some rabbits and didn't have to look hard to find good numbers. Amba did all the shooting and ended up with a total of 32 rabbits most of which were headshot (her Pa was pleased to hear). We also did a bit of fox whistling and I managed to shoot 3 foxes with my bow which topped off our day nicely.

 

4. Some cod fishing accompanied this outdoorsy couples last rabbit hunt. 
Some cod fishing accompanied this outdoorsy couples last rabbit hunt.
5. For a first-time hunter and and writer, they know how to pose good hunting photos, featuring a one-thousand-watt smile from a happy shooter. 
For a first-time hunter and and writer, they know how to pose good hunting photos, featuring a one-thousand-watt smile from a happy shooter.

 

I'm definitely Lucky that my girlfriend likes the outdoors and I can't wait to share some more hunting and fishing with her for years to come.

 

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