The warm pile

The sharp report of  the .222 lingers in my ears. It is a hot January evening and I am hunting in the Mangatainoka catchment but based at Te Pukeohikarua hut in the Kaweka ranges. I am employed by the New Zealand Forest Service as a Deer Culler. The year is 1981
A short time earlier a Sika hind leapt from her bed in front of me. I could see that in a few more bounds that she would clear the spur directly ahead and be lost from sight. The finely balanced Sako Vixen was up in an instant. The cross hairs in the Leupold scope desperately seeking her fast departing rump.
Then there is huge silence. She has vapourised…. Gone. I quickly make my way over to the spur the need for stealth and patience a thing of the past the undergrowth protests loudly at my passing. I peer over…. Nothing. Not a sign. Further down there is a small creek gurgling away. It’s journey taking it around a corner and out of sight. Everywhere else the contours were seemingly on end. The creek is the only flat gradient around. It looks from my vantage point to be untouched by the passage of cloven feet in a hurry. I nevertheless make my way down into the creek itself and look closer. There isn’t any discolouration of the water or any scuff marks on the surrounding moss covered banks. My reasoning is that if the shot was half as good as I thought then this would surely be her most likely escape route. I press on. I pass into two tight bends in quick succession, then coming out of the second bend in the creek I notice in front of me a complete pile of intestines that lies heaped on the rocks in the middle of the narrow streambed. I close in on the pile. I crouch down and touch them they are very warm. There is more than ten yards to the next bend, in this tightly confined creek. I am now feeling confident, but I admit a touch puzzled. I continue on and sure enough around that very next bend there lies the inert form of the hind. She is completely gutted as if from a very sharp knife.
On reflection it seems she must have leapt over an obstacle, the very instant I squeezed the trigger. The bullet would have seared along her abdomen. The resulting leaping and bounding would have been enough to pressure the belly into opening and spilling its contents.

I draw my Kershaw knife and take the proof of kill. It is a thumb length of bone at the base of the tail. Then cutting through the bone via a suitable segment but leaving attached around six inches of tail skin. Trimmed either side of the bone to aid quick drying the knife is then punched through the skin to make a loop. I then thread the loop onto the sewn in watch strap affixed to my knife belt. There are now three tokens hanging from my waist. The evening is going well.

Russell Hulme; Boss at Kuripapango

“Thats Hulme with a U not Holmes” would be the first thing he would mention. I Liked Russ for the most part, even when he would measure your bath water to make sure you weren’t getting an inch more than your due.

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