Perfect Hunting Weather: Pass the Venison Steaks
Ups and Downs of Hunting.
Sometimes it just takes an idiot to ruin a good day.
This is the true story of a hunter who found himself confronted with a hostile group of locals who claimed he was guilty of poaching on private property. Factually, he wasn’t, but he was only able to clear his name when his independent witness who had been missing was found: That witness being a Feral Deer.
Many times within my professional capacity, I have been called upon by clients and friends to act on their behalf as a legal advocate. On numerous occasions I have found that not having a Law Degree, has been extremely advantageous from the perspective of being granted considerably more latitude towards the winning a variety of cases. Experience suggests that many lawyers don't perform well against a layman of equal knowledge and skill. Against a layman, those parties do not have the ability to negotiate with or manoeuvre their opponent within the bounds of jurisprudence. It seems that many struggle and frustrate their own efforts to win an argument on onions; when faced with a layman who knows onions well.
This is Lyndsay T's story and one of the more enjoyable legal challenges that I have faced. He is a hunter and all round good kiwi bloke who is honest, works hard to feed his family and has a magnetic personality which means; to know him, is an honor. In the situation that he found himself in here, he needed to win. So we did! Never write off the underdog.
NZ National Parks abound in wildlife and magnificient scenery.
A South Island Wapiti Stag.
What a deer of a day.
The August skies over National Park were grey, with low cloud cover above a cold drizzle that promised to hang around for the next week. Driving his Ute slowly through the back country with a mate, Lyns knew that this was perfect hunting weather and his chances of bagging a deer were better than normal on days like this. Instinctively they knew that with low mist over the foothills, there would be deer somewhere in the area.
As the road meandered through the miles of tussock and low scrub, sure enough, there just 600 metres ahead on the left, a solitary Sika doe raised her head to pick up on any scent of potential danger, her ears turned towards the crunch of slowing tyres on gravel.
“Buggar! She’s seen us! But we haven’t spooked her though. She’s just wandered into that scrub at the bottom of the hill. We’re still downwind if we park here and I skirt up along that ridge.”
Reaching behind his seat, Lyns grabbed his 308, bolt and took 3 shells from his ammo belt. He made his way up and into the higher scrub to close the distance and find a clear shot. He’d done this a thousand times before, yet each time the adrenalin still kicked in, making him completely oblivious to the sleet driving into his face and down his back. He could taste the rewards if he nailed this one; the first of the season.
From above he glimpsed the tail of his quarry; she was still feeding and had obviously dismissed any thought of being seen from the road. Lyns knew he still had to get closer and into a position that allowed him to clearly see the more attractive end of the Sika.
Some of our deer country.
You shoot em - you carry em.
Patience - Still the Heart.
The terrain wouldn’t allow him to stay on high ground without detouring down and over the gully that lay where he wished a hill had been. He chose the easier option; to stop and just watch to see if she would go deeper into her cover, or turn back feeling secure again in the open. He chose to wait and blend with the clump of tussock beside his face, keep her sighted in the hope that she would turn back toward him.
The silence was his heart beat. “Thank God it still works,” he thought to himself, “come on, just turn’” subconsciously he willed her, “just step back and see how good the grazing is behind you.”
As if she picked up on the command, she turned and began moving into the small break. But instead of feeding, she bolted, perhaps sensing that she was in his sights.
The reverberation of a single gunshot echoed across a hundred acres of National Park. He knew he had hit her, but he didn’t know if he had dropped her as she headed into the scrub. Down, down across sodden moss and lichen, through unforgiving clumps of wiry tussock and he was there. Silence, but for his pounding heart and a raindrop on his hat.
Where did she go?
Catching his breath, he couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a dinner anywhere to be seen. The telltale signs of a fresh blood trail led into thick scrub heading back down towards the road. He followed the tracks anticipating that at any minute, he would find the Sika in the undergrowth.
Nothing. He replayed the scene over again in his mind and became more determined that he had been successful with a shoulder shot. After 20 minutes of stumbling around searching for her, he did what most hunters hate; he had to give up the chase, knowing that he had left a wounded deer to try to survive the encounter. After two hundred or so times saying, “Buggar!” Lyns reached the road and his truck that his mate had driven towards his gunshot.
As he cleared the bush, he noticed that his truck was locked in between two other vehicles and a guy was sprawled over the bonnet of his truck, waiting for him. Two others stood guard over his mate, ensuring that he was not going to get the chance to drive away. As he walked towards them he knew they weren’t hunters, here to ask how he’d got on. Perhaps the abusive remarks that were being thrown at him as he walked towards them, held a clue that these guys were not here to party!
What can I do mate?
Ten days later, I opened my door in response to the nervous knocking of a guy who was so stressed that he just blurted out everything that he had been thinking about in the last 24 hours in one sentence. I had never seen Lyns like this before; normally he was easy going, calm and always thought about what he was going to say, before he opened his mouth.
Today he was a mess. He handed me a letter from the police that stated it was their belief that he had been poaching on private property and that witnesses had sworn a statement that he had been seen discharging a firearm from his vehicle.
To a serious hunter, allegations like these were as serious as an old style western horse rustling; pretty much an invitation to a lynching, where he’d been asked to supply his own rope! Lyndsay certainly is not a cowboy in anything that he does, which is probably why the locals from the back country who confronted him, didn’t like him.
“I’ll loose my license and my guns over this, those dirty mongrels are lying their arses off…. I’m buggared if I can’t go hunting anymore…I never fired out of the truck.. They wanted a punch-up with my mate & me, but we told them to get a life & drove off… They reckoned I’d shot their pet deer, but I was in the park….. I had proper permits, everything…….. I need some advice, can you help me mate? There were no signs that we could see that had private property on them………… dirty mongrels.. Three of the bastards….. They said they’d get even with me when they threatened me!”
And some more deer country.
King of the high ground.
The Will will lead the Way.
“Of course I’ll help Lyns, relax and just breathe, I’ll do my best! Let me just read the police allegations.” He sat down and started to chill out enough to say that he was really worried! Sure enough it appeared that the police had taken the complaint seriously, had witness statements and were instructing him to bring his Firearms and Hunting Permits to an interview appointment at his local police station. “Okay Lyns, I want you to back up and just start from the beginning. Walk me though your whole trip; everything….slowly, I’ll be taking notes.”
“Sure, Okay we were.....”
After relaying his story to me, he asked me again what should he do “Absolutely nothing mate; you will not be going to this meeting with the police!” “What do you mean? I have to or they’ll arrest me, won’t they?” “Well, maybe, but I think we might attack first huh? Are you sure you haven’t left anything out Lyn?” “No mate, that’s all of it.” “Okay Lyns leave it to me, I’ll sort it.”
A much more relaxed Lyndsay thanked me & shook my hand another fifty times over. As he left, he thanked me and shook my hand again. “I’ll never forget this, thanks mate. There aren’t many of us left; I was lost, I didn’t know what to do!”
“Lyns, please, we will sort it, you will be okay, I promise, catch up with me tomorrow after work, you’ll be fine.”
Shutting the door, I thought, “What the hell can I pull out of the hat, how am I going to get him out of this? God I gave him my word that I would, I don’t even know the law on this sort of thing! Oh well, too late now mate. Just breathe!”
© Copyright 2009 Pearldiver nzpol with all rights reserved.
Well.. What happened next?
The second part of this story covers the process and strategy that we applied to make sure that the false claim made against Lyndsay did not stick to him; but rather to the party who made the complaint: Clearly, in an effort to make a buck out of a doe.
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