6 Tips to bag a SIKA stag on "Public land" in the roar
I’ve said "Public land" as shooting a sika stag on a private block or on the back of farm land is a damn sight different to stalking one in thick, snow-damaged bush. Apart from the obvious things like making sure your gun is sighted in, not wearing noisy clothing, and wearing soft comfortable footwear, these next 6 tips could help you bag that sika stag that always seems to elude you.
1. Learn the area you are hunting before you head in. Satellite images on Google Earth is a good one that I use a lot even if it’s an area I go into often. Study the ridges, the gullies and any clearings or clay pans you can recognise, these can be used as land marks while you are hunting. Also where creeks run and which way you need to head to hit a track when you decide to walk out, there is nothing worse than hearing a stag roar but your lack of confidence in the area stops you from going after it. Trust me, if you study the area bagging an animal will be a lot easier.
2. WIND…..the wind is your worst enemy and it’s very hard to judge the direction from the car park or camp as in valleys and basins the wind will swirl in all different directions. Wind direction needs to be taken into account as soon as you decide to go after a stag that is roaring. If the wind is up your butt then you need to find a way to get at him from another direction. If this isn’t possible, as hard as it is to do, it's almost worth leaving him for another day, you will not get anywhere near him if he smells you nor will you hear him again (usually have a lighter in my pocket to check the wind with).
3. Stealth mode.....sika walk and stop, walk and stop, and so on and so on. They are always looking for danger so usually if you aren’t in stealth mode they will see you first and this is not what we want. Walk super slow and very quiet, stop every 10/20 passes, stand there and look around. Sika are sometimes extremely hard to see under the canopy of the bush, which quite often results in you walking straight past them or being sprung by a hind.
4. The ambush.....when coming in on a roaring stag, if they are continuously single calling in my experience I tend to not do anything but head towards their roar, being super careful not to spook anything on the way and frequently checking the wind to make sure it’s not going towards him. Try to get within 100m of him and sit down to watch for a movement. Often stags single calling are chasing around hinds and making a fair bit of racket, so there is a good chance you may hear him moving around or even pick up movement through the scrub. Patience is the key with these elusive buggers.
5. Putting yourself in the right position and setting up for the shot. So at this stage you are usually within 100m of the stag and if he has gone quiet he may know that something is in the area. Find a spot where you can see reasonably well with a little cover for yourself, behind a tree or bush usually. For me this technique works nearly every time, I let out a quiet single call just with my mouth and wait, 9 out of 10 times if he hasn’t smelt you he WILL come for a look. The last 2 stags I have done this to have done a complete circle right around me trying to cut my wind so be ready for that as well, but if you are close enough he'll come straight in so keep your eyes pealed.
6. THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP …….IDENTIFY. It doesn’t really matter what time of the year I’m hunting, I’m always looking for antlers and the size of it before I even try to get a shot, that way I can identify whether it’s a hind or a stag... A good habit to get into whether you are hunting in the roar or not so you can 100% confirm it is a deer you are looking at.