ZA HUNTERS – Claire Chalke

In the right place at the right time!

It was a crisp, March morning and it looked like we were driving through the clouds as the fog sped past our windows on the way out to our hunting spot. As we turned into the driveway, we slowed down to ensure we didn’t scare anything nearby. We quietly made our way through the gates until the car was as close to the hunting paddock as possible.

Surrounding us was green grassy hills that disappeared into the thick bush off in the distance. As we arrived at our spot, we hopped out of the car and opened the boot to access our gear. We quietly prepared ourselves, getting our hunting gear on and listening out for any signs of deer.

For this hunt, I chose my .308.

We closed the gate without noise and then walked a little bit further along the dirt path. About200m along the path, suddenly we all gave each the look of “There is a deer out there”.

I grabbed my rifle and propped the stock hard up against my shoulder as I walked across the rocky dirt and investigated the scope to see what was out there. There was a stag and a doe out there! I was so excited but needed to breathe because I wanted to be focused on my shot. The wind was in the right direction, which was coming towards us, this meant that the deer wouldn’t smell us and run away. We sneakily walked about 100m so that I could get closer and be able to get a strong stance to take a shot. I walked slowly to a rock where I was able to see but it was not a great position to shoot. I got up slowly, made my rifle safe, and crept towards a tree that was closer and that I could stand up but lean against for a stable shot. I picked up my range finder, pushed it against my eye, and saw that it was 150m away. My rifle was sited into 150m, so this was a perfect place to get a good shot.

I decided to stay in this spot which was between two thick tree branches. I got in position and hugged the rifle into my inner shoulder. I stood on a rock that was right near the tree then I gripped my hands firmly, looked through the scope, and started to control my breath. I was aiming for the stag; he was walking around, and I needed him to be still and, in a position, where I could get him behind the shoulder. I kept my forearms firm against the tree as I held the rifle in position. My feet both were in a steady stance. I looked through the rifle again and there he was, the stag perfectly positioned so I focused, held my stance strong, and took my shot.

I stared over to the next hill and through the bracken fern I saw antlers sticking up from the ground. I walked over and felt his beautiful coat and then the stunning antlers he had produced .I sat next to him and just took a moment to appreciate how grateful I am for this beautiful animal that has provided meat for a whole year.

We processed his meat and put it into bags then sat down and just took in the beautiful scenes that nature has to offer. A special shout out to Zahir Brais, I would not be able to have this experience if it wasn’t for him.

Thank you!

Claire Chalke