September 07, 2021 3 min read

I’ll be honest... six years ago when I moved to Victoria, I didn’t even know there were deer in Australia.

Through sheer luck the first mate I made in Vicco was a mad keen hunter and opened me up to the world of hunting wild deer. The first hunt I was a part of we didn’t see a single deer, but the rush of stalking and potentially taking a wild animal was enough to get me hooked!

Three hundred dollars later I was the proud owner of a second-hand compound bow. Now I’m not going to lie, I had never shot a compound bow before but it couldn’t be too hard, right? Wrong! Thankfully YouTube had my back, and some friendly advice from local bow users at a public range had me smacking confident groups at thirty metres – time to hit the hills!

I cut my teeth hunting the closest public land (Healesville & Eildon area). Twenty-six consecutive solo hunts without an animal to show for it. I didn’t even have binoculars for the first ten or so, but it didn’t matter. Just being in the bush, in pursuit of a wild animal was all that mattered! I saw stacks of deer, I even hit one with an arrow but was never able to retrieve it. Knowing I had injured an animal that may potentially perish and be wasted was heart breaking. Being raised to show respect to all living things was enough for me to put the bow down and finally get my gun license.

My first hunt with my brand new Tika T3X 30.06 rifle had me put down a beautiful Sambar hind at sixty metres with a cocky temple shot (I’ve learnt now that headshots aren’t the safest option).

Fast-forward to now, and I have been lucky enough to explore many great locations across Victoria whilst hunting. I’ve taken animals of different species and sizes and have been able to convert all that amazing free-range meat into meals for family and friends. 

Nowadays, I take a video camera everywhere I go. Being able to capture my experiences and share it with others is just awesome. I genuinely believe that filming my hunts has also made me a better hunter. Having to take my time to get “the shot” before “taking a shot” really makes you think and work harder in the field – it’s a win, win!

Now I reckon social media is a great tool if used correctly, allowing us to share our pastimes (i.e. fishing, surfing, spearfishing, etc) with the world and giving everyone a voice. The downside of everyone having a voice though, is that some people feel they have the right to “hang shit” on one another, for the way we go about that activity. For example, some bow hunters think using guns isn’t fair, some deer stalkers don’t believe hound hunting is reasonable and ethical, some hound hunters don’t believe long range shooting is even sporting, while others argue that animals taken on private holdings don’t count, and public land is the only “real” hunting. You get where I’m going with this.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how or where someone harvests a deer in my mind – as long as you’re out there giving it an honest red-hot crack and enjoying every second of it (all the while being a good human) -  that’s all that matters!

Hunting is more than just a pastime to me, it’s an escape from the busy lives we live, and a reconnection with our inner primal being; to hunt and provide food for ourselves and others.

Hunt safe, hunt happy and be sure to say G’day if we ever cross paths.


Youtube: Dive Fish Hunt

Insta @themadhughesy

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