Shooting deer new string to desk man's bow

It's time for venison as Matt Rilkoff feeds his wild appetite.

To shoot my first deer it came down to Phil Mohi literally giving me a leg up.

In the driving rain it was on his calves that I rested his rifle, took aim at a young stag 100 metres away on a hillside in the bush and squeezed the trigger, sending a bullet slamming into his forequarter.

Despite that the animal was able to run out of sight so that I could not know whether he was dead or wounded and in some pain. Phil seemed quite convinced he was dead but I wasn't so sure.

"Did you hear it hit the body," he said.

We quickly made our way around the gully to the side where I had shot it and just as Phil had predicted the stag had made it about 25m before dropping dead. The bullet had caused massive damage to its lungs which meant the body cavity filled with what seemed like a bucket of blood when I gutted it. It was gruesome.

"This is like some horror movie," I said, even though I was relieved the deer had died before it could realise the trouble it was in.

"You get that with lung shots," said Phil, a former Department of Conservation boss and long-time deer hunter.

With a few twists of the knife he turned the stag into a backpack so I could carry it back to the hunting hut on Paul Bielski's 1600 hectare South Taranaki farm. We also kept the heart and liver, which Phil carried back to the hut in his hands.

"Well I thought you wouldn't get anything in this weather," said Paul as I staggered into the hut under the weight of the stag.

"I thought you might be back to eating goat's balls." He was taking the piss, that was for sure, but at least he was reading the paper.

The farm is usually closed to hunters at this time of year but Paul had allowed us to use his farm to bag a deer as part of my 12-day living-off-the-land challenge.

They were everywhere but most were hinds, young mothers with fawns. We were not to shoot those.

"I shot a hind one time," Paul said. "I didn't think it had a fawn. But I came back a week later and here was this little deer hanging around. I tried to shoot it, just to put it out of its misery but it was too quick for me. It would have starved to death. "So I thought, ‘That's it: December to April, no hunters here'."

Today: Blackberries, plums and eels at Ahititi.

Tomorrow: Local tucker at PaePae in the Park at Patea.

Taranaki Daily News