I’m still not sure what drove me to decide to head to a remote part of South Australia for three weeks to solo hunt off grid. I had a vague idea that I wanted to test myself to see if all the skills and knowledge I had accumulated in my life was enough to keep me alive in the harshest of conditions.
Having been a vegetarian for the best part of 20 years due to doctor’s recommendations, health issues were now driving me eat meat and lots of it. I decided that if I was going to eat meat, then I wanted to hunt my own. I looked at a compound bow knowing full well that it was a little bit easier of a hunting weapon. It’s sights and cogs would allow me to shoot with greater accuracy at a greater distance allowing for potentially more successes with my hunts but it’s complexity disturbed me. Guns seemed too easy. I had been shooting rabbits and roos my whole childhood and even without practice had managed kills. I wanted to earn the right to my food. The second I picked up my Bear Super Grizzly in the shop, I knew it was my weapon of choice. It felt natural to me and I knew the task ahead to get accurate with it would not daunt me. I was well familiar with hard work.
I have been in the outdoors my whole life so the art of animal behavior and stalking was familiar. However, getting accurate enough to ethically kill with my recurve, that was going to take some hours. It took a full year in fact before I could consistently put an arrow where I wanted it to go from a distance of 25 meters. No sights meant I had to intuitively shoot and I knew that my prey wasn’t going to be at a set distance so I had to practice from all distances, uphill, downhill and through trees. With a 35 pound bow, I wasn’t going to try too many shots from a greater distance than 25 metres because I wanted to have force behind the shot in order to make a quick and ethical kill.
I wasn’t squeamish about the thought of killing an animal for food. I had done that before in survival scenarios and on extended outdoor trips. I had processed animals, using their skin to make leather, but I had always had someone with me to either learn from or bounce ideas off of. The plan this time was to be doing it all alone so I knew that I needed to learn all I could before I set out. A mate of mine, Jack Spinks, has grown up shooting goats with a traditional bow and I had previously sought his expertise with questions about my shooting technique. His place was on the way to where I was planning on spending my time alone hunting and he was as excited as I was to be a part of my first bow hunt.
Jack was a wealth of knowledge about goats and their habits and followed me in on my first few stalks showing me what behavior to look for to move forward fast, what to look for to move forward slowly and when to hit the deck. He knew the best ways to get close and when to give up the chase if you weren’t going to get closer. I managed to take down two Nanny goats in the two days we were out there and Jack and his brother Darcy, who was a professional butcher, showed me what they knew about skinning and butchering a goat carcass. There was a ton to learn and no hope to retain it all but I did my best to mimic how they did things and take it all in. With a full cooler, I headed off to my cousin’s property where I was going to undertake my solo adventure.