Timing Is Everything
Timing, luck and a well-placed shot led to this story by Tim Duffield.
Hunting and shooting has always been a family occasion and tradition for my brood. I grew up on a farm in South Australia and from a young age was taught how to hunt and shoot in a safe, humane and methodical manner. My father spent his life in the Army and honed his skills with a rifle, which he then passed on to me. I have used those skills in my life as both a hunter and now in my career, also in the Army. Hunting and shooting is a way of bonding and learning new skills; and has provided me with memories and stories that will last a lifetime.
Recently I was enjoying a day off, when my mother asked if I would like to go for a drive to a few of the paddocks in the late afternoon as she had not been over there for a while. As a family, we often enjoy a drive to some of the property to enjoy the time out in nature and take in the views and fresh air (and of course we would never leave a rifle behind, in case an opportunity presents itself). On this particular occasion I brought along 2 of my personal favourite firearms, a simple but effective Howa 1500 chambered in .308, and a Molot Vepr 12 semi automatic shotgun.
We had been out for a few hours and we decided to visit one last part of the farm (one of my favourite hunting spots) before heading home. We parked on the track and walked to the top of the Northern ridge line that overlooks a steep valley and the opposing ridge. At that moment out of the creek that runs through the valley we spotted a beautiful male fallow deer heading up the Southern ridge near the tree line. Due to the amount of time I spend in that particular paddock I never require a range finder to judge distance as over time I have memorised natural distance markers to gauge my range from a target. On this particular occasion the distance was only 380 meters. I lay down behind my rifle and began my breathing cycle, waiting for the perfect opportunity to place a shot. After covering a short distance, the buck stopped and turned to face across my line of sight, providing the perfect opportunity to make a humane kill. I squeezed off the round and he instantly dropped upon impact, with no need to fire a back up round. Unfortunately the next task involved working out a route to get the car down to where the buck had dropped so that we could transport it home and harvest the best cuts for the freezer. This was achieved with minimal risk using the aid of skilled guidance and a good knowledge of the land.
Deer in South Australia are a growing pest animal that was introduced and whose numbers are now well in the thousands. In 2010, a 10 day aerial cull destroyed 800 feral deer in the states South-East and this highlights how much of a problem this is for land owners. I take pride in not only harvesting my own game, but contributing to conservation efforts and aiding in providing balance to such a diverse ecosystem.
Like all good hunters, I never make a shot unless I am sure that I am capable of hitting my target in the desired location, even when making long distance shots on pest animals. Wounding an animal and having it get away is never a viable option under almost any moral standards; and its admirable to see many figureheads within the hunting community placing emphasis on this fact to encourage future generations of shooters to be ethical in their chosen sport and pastime.
On this particular occasion, the primary goal for that day had not been to hunt; but to enjoy the beauty of nature and reflect on the privilege of being able to spend so much time in what I consider one of the most beautiful parts of Australia. I do my best to take as many friends and family to the farm for camping and hunting trips in order to expose them to a different lifestyle and promote a sport and pastime that I love. During this time of year, we are reluctant to go hunting due to the risk of bushfires; however we do pick specific days to hunt based on the weather in order to combat increases in pest population. After each trip all I keep thinking is that I can’t wait for a change in season!