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Conducting an ambush
– Hunting Experiences

Poronui is a large property with diverse terrain, and, within its boundaries, there are places where wild game crosses from one location to another. This particularly applies to free-range sika who travel from forest to farmland to feed. They travel through saddles between valleys during the rut and winter. They move under a particular hole in a stock fence when fleeing, and along or across pylon tracks cut through gum plantaions when returning to the forest.

Over the years, guides on Poronui have loaded these hotspots in the brain database, and when the hunting gets tough they plan an ambush. In the hunting game, establishing the routine of your quarry gives you an edge, especially if that quarry is a trophy animal.

A couple of years back, Poronui guide Mark and I drove along the base of Poronui Hill and right near the top of the hill were several sika stags enjoying winter pickings amongst the logged remnants of felled pine trees. One was a big, even eight-pointer, and another a strange-looking atypical cull stag. Both became target animals for different reasons. One as a trophy; the other for game management.

They grouped up and watched us knowing they were out of range and, should we approach, had a saddle back door to flee through. Sure enough they got twitchy and fled. Mark said they would filter back when feeling safe.

That night he hatched his ambush plan and told me about it the next day. I would be dropped off in the gully below the deer’s escape route while he drove around to where we had been the day before. If present, the deer would be approached and hopefully would flee through the saddle again where I had set up an ambush. Lots of ‘ifs’ in the plan, but it sounded good on paper.

I waited and waited, and was on the verge of abandoning my lookout perch when I heard the sound of breaking sticks and thundering hooves. Through the saddle at full gallop came a group of stags. I could spot neither of the two targets amongst them but out to the left, following a separate escape trail, was the big eight. Cunning critter, I thought, but unfortunately for him, he knew nothing about my presence. I was able to harvest him as he ran past. Hardly had the gunshot rung out than the atypical eight-pointer appeared on the other side of me. Another shot and the plan was a total success.

Lesson: always trust your guide. They know a thing or two.

Greg Morton
One of New Zealand’s longest hunting/fishing profile journalists. Outdoors writer since 1987. Past positions include New Zealand correspondent for The Hunting Report; The Bird Hunting Report, and The Angling Report, and writing a regular hunting article for New Zealand Outdoor for 30 years. Presently writes a monthly article named Fair Chase for New Zealand Fishing News and a hunting blog for Poronui, while continuing his passion for hunting, fishing, and wildlife photography. Lives in Alexandra, Central Otago.
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