- Feb 2, 2009
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- Australia, Zimbabwe, RSA (2), NZ (2), UK.
There are no guarantees when hunting free range game and that was reinforced on our latest Camel shooting trip. Still, if you don't get off the couch/lounge you won't shoot anything.
Our first stop on the way up was again Barcaldine at 24:00 and again we slipped into the public camping area without having to pay, rolled out our swags and hit the farter (bed).
We stopped at Winton for last minute supplys.
We arrived at the property at 15:00 the next day for a quick brief from the owner and leading jackaroo. We were told a commercial Camel meat operation had arrived approx four weeks earlier and taken off 10 tonne of boned meat from Camels shot around the homestead. My calculations put this at approx 60 camels which is quite a hit on the local population. We were more than slightly disappointed to hear this. Early rains had also beaten us by one week and fires had ravaged part of the property two weeks earlier. The game was spread out as water was available everywhere. The owner had done a helicopter recce that morning and said there were big boars on most of the dams, wallowing in the water during the heat of the day.
We passed one waterhole before dark and Cameron was able to take a 40kg sow at a laser 270 yards off the bipod with his .243W and 100 Sierra SptBt. We called this the Barnes Wallace Bouncing Bullet Shot as the projectile hit the water a yard in front of the pig and ricochet into it taking out both lungs. We sent Cameron into the dam to recover the body rather than leave it to foul the water.
We headed off to try and set up camp but sundown beat us. Camp was a fly camp beside the truck that night. We packed up the next morning and found a much better spot 1km further north on the track.
DAY ONE. We headed north into the burnt country which was new territory for us. We stopped to glass the surrounding country and saw three camels 500 yards away moving towards us.
There was a mature bull and our guest was keen to take one. The boys headed off on foot with the 7mm Remington Magnum loaded with 160 Woodleigh PPSN. As soon as the boys were spotted (at 300 yards) the camels turned tail and bolted. We assumed they were gun shy from the meat shooters.
We returned to camp and then again headed North on a more westerly track. At approx 16:00 we spotted a dark coloured lone bull. He was mature with a full beard. He took off and we gave chase. Our guest culled him with a single neck shot from the .243W. He dropped on the spot with both front legs shooting out to his right and then the rear legs folding up under him. I was very happy for our guest.
On the way back to camp we spotted five bulls on top of a hill and again the boys took chase with Cameron leading with the 7mmRM. The lads contoured around a neighbouring hill out of sight and down wind but the camels had seen us and were gone like wisps of smoke. It was not a good omen.
DAY TWO: No game sighted despite constant stops to glass for game. Ducks and Quail were disturbed when we walked up to dams to check for pigs.
I believe it is illegal to shoot birds in Queensland but the numbers seemed plentiful due to the recent rains. Lots of km were covered and daytime temperatures were on or over 40 degrees Celcius. At night it got down to 21 deg. C.
DAY THREE: Jumped some big pigs mid day in a dam but we were way too slow. Nothing else sighted so we headed for a water hole to cool off.
The rifles we used:
The boys flick me the bird at 00:55
DAY FOUR: Last day. I finally got the boys to agree to get out of bed before dawn and we came across a large mob of pigs 1 km from camp just on sunrise. Cam did the honours with the .243. The boys were saying , maybe Dad was right all along and we should have gotten up earlier?
We checked all dams on our way south.
THE CULL: We had nothing to lose and headed south to the area shot out by the meat hunters which was close to the homestead. We again saw nothing for hours. I climbed up onto the top of the loaded truck to get a higher view as we drove around. We were just about to quit in despair when far off to the east I spotted 14 camels with one large bull. They must have wandered in from the neighbouring property. The boys again grabbed a bag with ammo, water and emergency stores and headed off on foot in pursuit. I secretly prayed a quick thank you to the gods of hunting.
Just as with our first camels, this mob took one look at us and headed off only this time at a slow trot. I disconnected the trailer and drove off to pick up the boys and we headed cross country in pursuit. We caught up with them and Cameron culled the largest (bull) camel with two 7mm 160 Woodleighs. It dropped on the second shot.
The alpha male shot by Cameron with the 7RM
Before we rolled him over.
7mmRM cartridge on the camel front foot pad.
We all bailed out of the truck with our rifles and set off in pursuit of the herd. The large females took off at Warp Speed 10 but the males all started to slow down looking back for the alpha male and offering side on shots. I was in the lead and dropped a small male with the 9.3x62 and a shoulder shot followed by a head shot.
I opened the action and waved our guest through, who now had the 7mm Rem Mag. He ran 50 metres past me and dropped to a kneeling position and shot the next nearest male.
Cameron leaped frogged in front of him with the .243W and head shot a fourth whilst prone off the bipod. This leap frogging advance continued along 400 -500 metres of consolidated ridge line resulted in us culling a total of 6 adult camels whilst on foot. It all happened very fast, very noisily and was a lot of fun with quick off hand shooting involved.
LAST NIGHT: We returned to the station and were invited to join the owners and staff for drinks and the evening meal. A herd of 90 camels had been spotted by the helicopter the previous day just 15km from our camp so at least we now know they are still plentiful. As before we had a great time with our hosts with many tales told and friendships confirmed. They have very few visitors out that far and they appreciated our company, respect and enjoyment of their lifestyle, home and property.
MAUSER ?8 .243W: Loaded with 100 Sierra SptBt this was a known quantity and performed extremely well again. We also took some 95 BT but despite being a hunting bullet they were too explosive on game over 40kg.
WEATHERBY VANGUARD in 7mm REMINGTON MAGNUM: Great rifle but we were all under impressed with this round for some reason. It killed more camels than the other rifles but we were expecting more. I guess we were victims of successful marketing. The 160 Woodleigh PPSN at 2,902 fps muzzle velocity, opened quicker than expected and the 175 would be a better projjie on the camels. It would be a great long range deer round but IMO is identical to the .30-06, only with thinner bullets at higher velocity. The 7mm 160 Woodleigh would be the perfect match with a 7x64 or .280 Remington.
MAUSER ?8 in 9.3x62: Woodleigh 286 RNSP were loaded and I used the express sights out to 120 yards to cull and finish camels. This was very rewarding and the photo I had showed massive off side damage and extruded organs. RULE303 has handled this rifle and will agree how well AFRO408 got it to balance.
EQUIPMENT: We had three flat tyres (two on the first day) with recently purchased tyres. The older Hankook 205R16 A/T did not puncture and did the same top job as on the last trip and are an excellent tyre with good sidewalls and puncture resistance. We had a 4x3 metre insect proof net- tent as the mozzies were very bad at dusk and midges after dark were drawn to the lights. Black bush flys were a pest at dawn but we had insect nets to go over our hats and we didn't need repellant. The insects had only come out with the rains and do not exist in the cooler months.
In order to be self sustaining and just simply get out to the remote areas, logistics are a vital part of planning. We took four spare tyres on rims, 140 litres of spare fuel and 145 litres of water and a 6x4 box trailer this time. Distance from home to the property was 1,717 km. Total was 4,055kms and we covered 621 km on the station looking for game. Fuel consumption in the Rodeo/Isuzu V-6 Petrol Twin cab was 16 litres every 100 kms.
THE TWO LADS: Had a great time (I think) from what little they said. Cameron knew my routine and our guest was raised on a working cattle property (but like so many rural kids had never been camping) so both had skills and did what was required of them when asked. A few safety issues such as a wandering muzzle were soon cured and we had no other rifle handling issues.
NEXT TIME: Go in cooler weather, take a three way/gas refridgerator to leave in camp to keep more items cool. Spend more time there to improve our chances.
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