The Sambar Hunt. Somewhere near Corryong, Vic

I found myself unexpectedly in Albury 3 weeks ago, at the same time as my brother (which is, looking at the odds, some kind of miracle). Even more unlikely, his partner and daughter were out of town for a couple of days. Somehow, Torren and I had just found the freedom to get into the hills together for the first time in a long time. 

It had been more than a few months since I last shot anything related to my personal project around hunting, so I was very keen on the idea of an overnight hunt in the hills with Toz, his Vizsla puppy, Lulu, and his cousin-in-law (is that a thing?), Heath. Especially as I'd never had the opportunity to document bow hunting.

I didn't even flinch at the 5am call time. While I would try and pass that off as eagerness, combined with a newfound maturity, it's definitely just a bi-product of a growing frequency of very early mornings. But I have to say that 5am is much nicer outside of the cities.

My next realisations came when we started the hunt. When you're stalking through the forest, in search of a deer species that is allegedly one of the smartest and hardest to hunt in the world, it pays to be silent. My camera shutters are not silent in the slightest. Then again, neither was Lulu. But she's only 6 months old, she can't be expected to not crash through the bush for 9 hours straight.

Now, rather than get too in depth with the details of the hunt, I think it will suffice to say that, although 24 deer were spotted, including 8 stags, 24 deer lived healthily past that trip, thanks to a combination of being out of distance for a bow, or a rifle jamming. That said, Heath and I both learnt some new tricks about tracking Sambar deer, and I got a good dose of bush before my return to the city.

 


Two Brothers Hunt

My younger brother's an avid hunter. It's one of his biggest passions, outside his family, and he's always finding excuses to get into the hills. He bought himself a new 4WD, this little noisy rock climbing shoebox. I had the ... pleasure (?) ... of picking it up for him and driving it down the highway from Sydney. Although an uncomfortable 7 hour ordeal, it did make for a more memorable drive down the Hume Highway than the many I made in the past. But that's not part of this story.

I was down in Albury a while back, with an idea for a potential photo project. Luckily, my brother was thirsty for a quick jaunt into the hills, and hell, so was I. The morning after I arrived, we woke at 4:00am, jumped into the noisy little Zook, and bounced up into one of his secret hunt spots. There's a photo of that morning buried in my instagram.

It was cold, the air was fresh, the sun hadn't quite come up, and I was feeling good about this first experimentation of my project idea.

We set off, stalking down a trail, and, unexpectedly to me, came across signs of a deer in front of us. My brother insisted we swap roles, his interest in me shooting my first deer apparently outweighing my interest in photographing him on the hunt. Just as the sun reached over the mountains ahead of us, and the leaves blazed orange, the two does passed our trail, pausing to look up at us, barely 50 metres away. Through the sight I saw the buck bound onto the trail, and without breaking his stride, disappear into the other side. Unlike my brother, I'm not a great hunter.

After a few minutes of clowning around doing handstands in the new sunlight, we walked back up the hill, and my brother took the chance to test his new 4WD. The mudguards were immediately, and unintentionally, ripped off.

 

Hunting's an interesting topic, and it can really divide people. I'm very passionate about environmental conservation and animal welfare, yet I have absolutely no issue with hunting for food, or conservation purposes. If someone's shooting introduced, or pest species, I'm alright with it, as long as they're hunting safely and consciously. I'm certainly not alright with people hunting protected and endangered animals, or people who act irresponsibly with firearms.