By Nick Welch
It was late afternoon on the 28th of
April. Heavy rain was expected
and we'd just organised everything
at camp in time to do a little
stalk before the afternoon sun disappeared.
It started to rain lightly and
we predicted it would be perfect for a
good, quiet hunt. Kevin, who I was
hunting with at the time, had seen
lots of Sambar in this particular spot
the weekend before and a number of
deer were also seen within 25 meters.
We hoped we would get a chance at a
deer this weekend.
We left camp and headed about one
kilometer up the dirt track to try and
find the right place to come off the top
of the hill - wind direction was essential
to where we started our hunt. The
wind was swirling a lot so we decided
to head 200 meters straight down
the hill hoping to get to some benches
where the deer fed. We started walking
and bush-bashed for a few hundred
meters as quietly as we could.
We continued on in what looked like
great Sambar country. We knew that
they lived here but finding them at
the right time could be a problem.
Next thing I knew Kev snapped his
fingers and pointed at the dog, Annie
who was sniffing the air. She went
into “hunt mode” and started stalking
as slowly as possible with the
hunters not far behind. She carefully
turned her head which indicated to
us that she was onto something. After
the dog had been pointing for about
10 minutes she started walking
around inspecting a grassy area
where something had been. I was
amazed at how skilled the English
Pointer was in that stalk. Kev and I
walked over to inspect and could
smell a very strong scent but it was
concluded that it was just wild dogs.
We then started sneaking up the gully
for about 700 meters, noticing great
deer sign everywhere but seeing no
sign of any deer. It was getting dark
and with nothing much moving we
decided to head back up onto the
ridge. It was almost dark by the time
we got onto the ridge and when we
arrived we heard something crashing
through the foliage. A deer had
jumped up just as we hit the top. It
must have only been 10 meters from
the dirt track. It was close to dark but
luckily with the moon light we could
roughly make out where we were
going. Next thing we hear a 'moo'
type sound, and we knew for fact that
there were no cattle in the area, so it
had to be a deer. Kev had heard them
before but not as clear as this night.
Then about four deer started 'mooing'
very similar to a cow. If you were
hunting on fringe country you
wouldn't take any notice of it.
We then made our way back to camp
and had a talk about the hunt and
what we might do in the morning.
We decided we would see what the
wind was doing and what the
temperature was like before we made
Kev woke up at 3am to listen to the
cricket World Cup Final, and to his
disappointment the game was on and
off because of the rain, much like the
weather we were getting here.
As daylight was emerging, we started
to get our gear ready for the morning
hunt. It was decided that the sunny
face after the cool night would be our
best bet. We started to head down the
hillside when Annie threw her nose
up in the air smelling deer scent. Kev
flicked out his trusty lighter, but the
breeze was swirling and it took some
time for the dog to sort out the scent
direction. We slowly snuck down and
around the side of the hill, following
the dog. It was getting very steep
with thick low wattle and gums. I
watched the dog as she was sneaking
noiselessly, impressed at how she
knew exactly what she was doing.
The thick eight foot high wattle made
it hard for us to see where we were
sneaking but then I heard a thud and
a few sticks snap around the next rise.
I pointed in the direction of the noise,
signaling to Kev that it wasn't far
away. When we made it around the
next rise the dog froze into a point. I
saw a Sambar's face about 25 meters
away laying down on a little bench
(about the size of a lounge room)
overlooking a huge bench about the
size of a cricket oval, but I couldn't see
any antlers. I turned around and
looked at Kev who was not far
behind and he had his binoculars up
to his eyes and whispered, “he's a
I couldn't get a clear shot at the deer
from my position, so I had to sneak
back about three meters to where Kev
was standing as he could see the deer
through a 20 by 30 centimeter gap in
the wattle. As I turned I stepped on a
dry leaf which crackled and drew the
deer's attention. Kev put his hand up
ordering me to stop moving.
I paused for a minute or so and that was the
longest minute of my life. Kev
motioned for me to come to where he
was. As I got to him and stood up, I
looked towards the deer and saw
what looked like an inner top of a
Sambar, but it was very pale and I
didn't think much of it. I looked
around for a rest but couldn't see anything
handy. Kev told me to rest on
his shoulder and take the shot. I put
the scope on 7x optical then the side
of the Sambar's face filled the scope,
that was all I could see.
I said to Kevin “I can't see his body”.
Kev replied “can you see his head?”.
“Yes, that’s all I can see” I shot back.
“Get into him” is all Kev said.
I still couldn’t see any antlers but I put
the cross right in front of his ear and
pulled the trigger of my Remington
300 short-action ultra-mag.
As I looked up I couldn’t see anything
but didn’t hear anything run off
either. The dog finally broke after
pointing the stag for a good five
minute stint without moving at all.
Kev and I ran over to the stag and that
was when I saw the huge antlers. I
grabbed his head off the ground and
felt the weight in his antlers and the
size of his inner tops (that was when I
realised that they were those pale
inner tops that I saw earlier). I was just
overwhelmed with all the excitement
and adrenaline. We took photos of the
head and stuffed around for a few
minutes taking it all in.
After about 30 minutes of emotional
handshakes and dog pats, Kevin got
me to walk back to camp to get the
backpack and take the guns back. It
was a steep walk back and as I saw
the camp I noticed a silver Toyota. I
walked into camp and had a talk to
the two hunters, Ian Gillbee and
Geoff Swales, both long time Sambar
hunters. They offered to help with
the carry out and came down and
helped cut the stag up and take a few
photos of the head. It was a good
carry out with a few blokes helping.
One of the boys had a tape and he ran
it over the head. It measured at 30
inches by 30 ¾ inches by 32 ½ inches
wide with 12 ½ inch inner tops and
15 inch brows.
Huge thanks to Annie the English
pointer, Kevin Gittings and Graham
Banbrook for driving me up, while
Dad was in New Zealand selfishly
hunting on his own!
The stag later officially scored 214.