Early September and I am away for a winter hunt! Ha! such as been my winter. Crampons and axe packed, and I steal away for a couple of nights to a spot which with these snow conditions, guaranteed a Chamois although probably only does, I suspected.
An early morning burst for the tops had me floundering in deep snow as daylight appeared ,and still a good way off the open ground. Crampons would be useless, the frost I had envisaged for myself didn’t turn up and I was left with bottom less snow interlaced with branches and re-gen making progress painfully slow, at times falling waist deep into the stuff. The travel was eroding what fitness I had maintained through winter, (with little to no hunting done) – which was not a lot!
Finally in tears of frustration I was able to stamp out a platform on the snow in the northern lee of a spur pregnant with the white stuff, cascading down the opposite southern side. Glasses out and I was finally hunting. I was viewing ridge after ridge of North facing slopes in the distance, eventually ending at around the 500 meter mark onto a large face below a steep prominent ridge. The steep slopes were only partly snow covered and there was plenty of feed available. There was a large open gully way below me clothed in avalanche debris with the South facing sides also encumbered with thick snow.
The sun was just making inroads onto the high tops illuminating them and highlighting the snow packed peaks. I was well below in the comparative shadow when I spied first one, then three and eventually 6 animals making their way diagonally away from me intermittently feeding as they went. I reached for my range finders and was informed of an animal at 396 meters .
With haste I placed my day pack onto the spur and laid Sako across and as per usual forgetting I actually have a 5x magnification. Having hunted my entire life with the power of 4x on my scopes this is no surprise.
I turned the C.D.S., dial up to 400 and placed the cross hair on the forward part of the animal. Boom! -thud,came back the report of a hit and I could see the animal shudder. Her mate high tailed it away and the rest of the group scattered about, at the report of the .308. The second and third shots did nothing except scatter the group into the next county but the stricken one remained. The fourth shot saw it plummet from the rock face and land in a snow gully which transported it with speed down and over a large waterfall and out of sight.
I knew then with sinking heart that I would never be able to recover the beast. It is now the second Chamois I have not been able to recover in my illustrious Chamois career!!!
When exhausted and faced with an already perilous and arduous task of retrieval, sometimes you have to back down in the interest of safety. …… Man, I must be finding some sense at long last after reading that last line…that sure doesn’t sound like me!
Finally I didn’t take my Canon camera with me on the trip and instead took my lighter less cumbersome “Olympus tough” which usually accompanies me on my bush hunting jaunts. The setting it was on just would not take pictures, (at least not instantaneous ) although no chance of an animal shot I couldn’t take any shots properly, and what with the snow and sun combination as well as aging eyes, I could not work out what was wrong.
N.B. It was on video and a timer combination , I later found out while having lunch down on a sunny spot beside the river. The frustrations of aging eyes at close range