AUSTRALIA: The Burning Has Started

BenKK

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On Friday I noticed that a camp dog we have a real soft spot for was looking poorly, and we needed meat for our household, too. So when evening rolled around - the time when buffalo like to stand-up - my wife and dog and I went for a look-around to see what we could find. The annual cold-season burning has started. It promotes new growth and reduces fire risk later in the year when it would be disastrous. The buffalo love this time of year, and so do we. The new growth that erupts from the ash doesn't look like much at first glance, but is good fodder - better than the browned-off stuff left-over from the wet season.

The rifle I took may be of interest or even surprising. Thirty-five years ago my father bought this Sako .22-250 to tame some wild south-west country. I was probably nine or ten when I began using it on rabbits to feed the cats and foxes to save the lambs. This old rifle now has a new barrel and lives up-north where the country will forever stay wild, I pray. It brings good food to some of the nicest folks on God's Earth and nourishment to an assortment of canine characters, running the cute little 55 grain Barnes TSX. Anyhow, on Friday afternoon a thumper of a bull nganabbarru fell to my old childhood rifle, shot through the heart plus some insurance shooting.

There were some happy dogs, for sure.

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BenKK

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After the chores, the guys and I went for another look-around on Sunday afternoon. We found a scrub bull, but were hoping to find his herd. No luck. Then a dingo trotted across our front, and that drew our attention to the aftermath of an aerial cull where three other dingoes were feeding. We have mixed feelings about aerial culls, understanding the need to protect fragile ecosystems and native wildlife but also wishing there was a way to utilise the meat - but I guess with heat and distance and terrain, there's not. We stalked-in and photographed the dingoes, whose Christmases had all come at once, I guess.

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BenKK

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After leaving the sad site, we continued our walk and paused for a water break under the watchful eye of a lonely bull. I imagined he couldn't understand what had taken place there back on Friday. Actually, the picture of that buffalo bull surrounded by brolgas was incredible, but the huge birds took to flight as I got my little camera out, and I only caught one ibis on the wing. We wondered if the bull was injured, so I chambered a fat cartridge into the Sako .500 Jeffery and strolled towards him, closing to about forty metres. He huffed-and-puffed for a little while, tossing his horns this-way-and-that, but then decided to gallop away looking just fine, so I was glad of that.

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BenKK

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We decided to travel to another spot on the eternal search for wild cattle or other bush delicacies. No luck. The older guys taught the younger guys how to light-up the right kind of areas for new growth and better hunting in a few weeks. As the sun went down, I took a neat little picture of my boyhood rifle resting in a place I could never have imagined back then.

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Pheroze

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I think I have said it before, but what a very interesting area you are in. It seems very remote, what takes you up there?
 

Ridgewalker

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Very enjoyable! Thanks for sharing!
 

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Thanks for the report.

Not surprised at all for your choice of gun, I have taken a few animals myself with a .22-250.
 

BenKK

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I think I have said it before, but what a very interesting area you are in. It seems very remote, what takes you up there?

G’day Pheroze, as I look back I think the best and greatest thing my Dad gave to me was a story. It was his story of being a station hand in the Western Desert country, complete with the danger, the adventure, a love of wilderness and wildlife, and a respect for the people who lived there since the Dreamtime. He also had a book called Outback Adventurers, and in that was an old picture of the legendary Fred Hardy sitting on his veranda with a massive set of buffalo horns across his lap, and his dog and Winchester lever-action by his side. I knew that I wanted to live where the buffalo are, so after teachers’ college I shot-up north like a rocket.
 

Pheroze

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G’day Pheroze, as I look back I think the best and greatest thing my Dad gave to me was a story. It was his story of being a station hand in the Western Desert country, complete with the danger, the adventure, a love of wilderness and wildlife, and a respect for the people who lived there since the Dreamtime. He also had a book called Outback Adventurers, and in that was an old picture of the legendary Fred Hardy sitting on his veranda with a massive set of buffalo horns across his lap, and his dog and Winchester lever-action by his side. I knew that I wanted to live where the buffalo are, so after teachers’ college I shot-up north like a rocket.
From your stories and pictures I can tell you made the right decision. Keep 'em coming (y)
 

Bullthrower338

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Howdy Ben,
I spoke with Arron Corbett the other day after you told me you had run into him on the track a time or two. He said he remembers meeting you. I am getting excited for my trip there and your pictures add to my anticipation! But hell, now I’m gonna leave the 470NE and bring my 220 swift lol!
Cheers,
Cody
 

kathy

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Awesome story & pictures. thanks for sharing. Forrest
 

BenKK

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Howdy Ben,
I spoke with Arron Corbett the other day after you told me you had run into him on the track a time or two. He said he remembers meeting you. I am getting excited for my trip there and your pictures add to my anticipation! But hell, now I’m gonna leave the 470NE and bring my 220 swift lol!
Cheers,
Cody

The .470 will be good for buffalo and great for cane toads!
 

CAustin

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Thanks for sharing the story and pictures.
 

BRICKBURN

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Keep sharing your adventures.
 

PaulT

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Great pics Ben, you bring back some very fond memories for me with every post.

I genuinely loved the "burning" seasons and highly value the art of burning country as one of many valuable lessons I learnt from our indigenous people.

Hot fires.
Cold fires.
Fires to control unwanted growth and thin areas down and fires to promote growth.
These guys had it down to a fine art and with this art I was able to improve my area and the health of the animals within.

Very relaxing and rewarding when done correctly.

Our burning season out on the East coast would begin way later than were you are now due to the coastal mist and moisture that would roll in every night. We would also use that nightly dew to control hot fires used to "thin" certain areas down.

Good stuff !!!

Keep posting.
 

BenKK

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Thanks, Paul. Pretty special country. Hard country, too, but magnificent. So much knowledge around, how to survive. One of the special things for me as a hunter is keeping the company of old men who killed buffalo with a borndok (spear thrower) and shovel-nosed spear.

I’ve not experienced coastal regions much at all. None, really. I understand the buffalo habitat and genetics are different there, and I’m fascinated by it.

I’m going to try to post some photos of the remnants of a 55 grain TSX that went through a two-year-old buffalo heifer’s brain this afternoon, a happy “daga run” for the families.
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Pheroze

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There is a minor gap between 22-250 and 500 Jeffery that is crying out to be filled! :);)
 

PaulT

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Ben, I hope you don't mind that I digress from your thread and relate a funny, at least to me, story.

One year I had a very prominent Divorce lawyer in camp as my client. This guy spent most of his adult life in custom tailored suits worth several thousands plus each, until he got to my camp.

Once he had settle in it was almost like his second home and he became so comfortable that I was continuously having to remind him to wear some form of footwear as I was concerned he would be bitten or stung by something causing injury. By the middle of his hunt he had even stopped showering and was absolutely reveling in being filthy, he was like a kid in a candy store, so to speak.

Once we had his first Trophy bull on the ground I requested a few hours off the hunt in order to address the threat of all the dry brown grass surrounding camp and my fear of the threat it posed to camp.
"Sure", no problems" was the response, "but you've got a lot of mowing to do, that's for sure ".

"Well, i'm NOT going to mow it, i'm going to burn it ", I responded.
Once he heard that there was no way in the world he would let me leave him out of it.

There was three of us in camp at the time and so after waiting for the prevailing afternoon breeze to set in I began slowing burning all the way around the camp for several hundred meters, clearing a buffer zone.

Both me and my camp hand, for that year, were carrying "bush-hoses" (the heads of green sapplings) in order to extinguish areas as the fire reached the limit of the required burn and my client was carrying a spare shovel for the same purpose, as he was opposed to the green tree ants biting him.

He was enthralled to see how we used the direction of the wind to dictate where we burnt and how fast we wanted it done.

We had one small patch left and I had just leaned over to light the grass when I felt a sharp sting to the back of my left knee cap.
As I looked down to see what it was I had inadvertently let out a yelp at the feel of the sting and I see a huge spider go racing up the leg of my shorts !!!!
As I corrected myself and stood up-right I see a shocked and horrified look on my client's face and see him begin to swing the shovel he is holding in my direction as the spider had crawled up through my pants and is now sitting on my shoulder !!!!!!!

The hunter had got so caught up in the vision of this big spider on my shoulder that he very nearly clobbered me full force with his shovel.

I probably haven't told it as funny as it was at the time but I still get a chuckle out of recalling it.

That particular guy was a LOT of fun to have around and if you are reading this :A Way To Go:.

Sorry for the hijack.
 

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