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Roar Stories: My First 12-Pointer in the Fiordland Roar

Roar Stories: My First 12-Pointer in the Fiordland Roar

Overview

On March 20, 2022, Adam and Aaron, also known as The Fiordland Boys, decide to go for an afternoon hunt to see if they can hear their first roar for the year. Being early in the season, their expectations were not overly high. Whether it was something to do with the hinds' cycle, the weather, or just a touch of good old lady luck, not long after leaving the truck and giving their first roar, the valley lights up with replies.

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Countdown to The Roar

The roar is an exciting, rewarding time to be out hunting and is on almost every hunter's calendar. It seems to never come around quick enough and is over far too soon. February is when plans start to form with ideas and messages being sent back and forth between mates and the topo maps become a daily search, looking at the endless possibilities and options. In March, it can be hard to think about much else other than the plans that have now been formed and the question which is likely on most hunters' minds: Are they making any noise yet!? There’s only one way to know for sure and that's getting into the bush for a look and listen. If nothing else, you may get the odd silent but curious stag come in for a look. This may only scratch the itch a little but can also provide good reconnaissance. And they will have to start roaring at some point.

Low Expectations

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It's March 20 in Fiordland, and Adam and myself decide to go for an afternoon hunt and see if we can hear our first roar for the season. Being early in the piece, our expectations were not overly high. Whether it was something to do with the hinds' cycle, the weather, or just a touch of good old lady luck, it wasn't long after leaving the truck that Adam gives his first roar and the valley lights up with replies. Three stags respond almost immediately. Excitement is now at an all-time high as we enjoy the conversation between man and beast. Taking into account the wind and terrain ahead of us, we decide which of the stags will provide the best opportunity for us to get in close. Being still some distance away we close the gap, heading off in a straight line for the location of the stag's last roar, crossing creeks and pushing through bush without much stealth so we can cover some ground. All the while stopping at each roar the stag lets out to reassess location, wind, terrain and enjoy the long awaited sound of “The Roar”.

Back and Forth

The river flats that we have been walking through soon turn into a steep face. We haven't let out a roar for a while, with the idea of keeping our location a secret until we get in close enough that he will come in for a look, rather than pushing further up the hillside. After scrambling up, over and through enough tight bush for one lifetime, we reach the base of a large open slip. Our guess is that he is not far inside the bush at the top of the slip, and the stag confirms it with one bellowing roar followed by three loud grunts. He’s close! As our adrenaline picks up, a plan is hatched to use the slip, as it will be quieter than the bush, and cut the distance in half. Upon reaching a patch of scrub that we use for some cover, Adam lets out a roar and immediately the stag replies, putting all of our senses on high alert. He's less than 100m away and we can see all of 80m up the slip. I put myself into a position which would allow for a shot if he decides to come out of the bush. With every roar Adam gives comes an almighty reply.

These are the moments we dream about and although I could happily listen to this interaction all day, it seems the stag will not budge from his position. Running the risk of the stag becoming disinterested and or a change in the wind, I start my approach to the top of the slip, leaving Adam at the scrub roaring to keep the stag's attention on him.

My First 12-Pointer

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As i near the bush edge, I know that at any moment things could change and with each roar, the hair on the back of my neck seems to stand up higher. I enter the bush, stopping every second step with all of my focus scanning the immediate area. I know he's close! Even being as quiet as i can, the crunch of leaf litter under foot has turned his attention towards me as the roaring has stopped.

I hear the faintest sound of something moving in the bush, then silence... What feels like a lifetime is actually only a brief moment of stand-off before i take two step forwards and see neck, head, antlers and wide eyes looking straight at me, less than 20m away. I slowly raise my rifle, placing the cross hairs in the middle of the neck and squeeze the trigger. A clean shot and the stag drops on the spot.

"Are you happy?" Adam yells from the bottom of the slip. "I'm happy," I reply. "Happy happy, or just happy?" Adam asks. "Happy happy!" A respectful Fiordland 12-pointer - my first 12-pointer - and plenty of meat that will be used for sausages and salami. Ecstatic would be an understatement and to experience it all with a good mate is one of the best thrills in life. Not all encounters in the roar will end with taking an animal or even seeing what you may be searching for. However, I would say that every encounter you have is a success. You will learn something every time and the roar only comes around once a year so enjoy each moment of it.

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Fiordland Boys

The Fiordland Boys are Aaron and Adam, a couple of mates who are passionate about hunting, diving and fishing in the Fiordland region of New Zealand. The Fiordland Boys run a popular YouTube channel where they share their hunting adventures.

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