A Ferocious, One-Antlered Machine


Time to read 1 min

Every year it’s the same excitement and anticipation as you wait to hear your first stag roar, a sound that, no matter how often you hear it, never fails to quicken the heart rate. This day, however, we were disappointed. We made it to the hut and dumped our heavy packs.

We decided on an afternoon/evening hunt and headed across the creek and up a nice ridge. I gave the roaring horn a workout, roaring into every gut, each time straining my ears and willing a reply, but it just wasn’t happening for us. Time was ticking, and if we wanted to get back to the hut before dark, we really should have been turning around. We decided to sit down for a quick snack to boost morale after a very uneventful day on the hills.

"One last roar," I reckon as I pick up the horn. It only takes one stag to play the game. A stag roars back right over the top of me. A mad scramble ensues as tuna snacks are instantly forgotten – he wasn’t far at all. We check the wind, stalk 100 meters forward, and find the ideal spot for an ambush.

He puts on a display for us at 20 meters, raking a few trees with his one antler and looking around for the future girlfriend he had heard. Then on he comes.

I draw my bow as he pushes through the crown fern. At 12 meters, he tips his head back and roars. Just head and neck above the ferns, my sight pin floats there, looking for a chest. He starts cutting around the side of us, and finally, the ferns are low enough – I can see all I need.

I center my pin on his chest and subconsciously release the arrow. It flies true and buries to the fletch. The stag crashes past us and down the hill. Then, silence...

A short blood trail leads us to him, piled up in the small creek not more than 20 meters from the shot. His antlers aren’t much of a trophy, but this hunt will live in our memories for a long time. There’s something special about a plan that all comes together so perfectly.