04 April 2014

Antlers at dusk

This afternoon I climbed the No. 1 Line track again and sat in the late sun, scribbling and listening to several unseen stags roaring. Two were distant but clearly somewhere in the headwaters; the third, though, roared sporadically from just across the gully. I searched perfunctorily with the 10x42s but had no chance of seeing him through the dense canopy; the only hope was if he'd ventured onto one of the small, semi-open slips but that didn't happen. I didn't mind not seeing him; just hearing him roar was good enough.

Back home, the bigger of the stags has been roaring consistently for about a week now. Before the month's out the roar will almost certainly be over, not just on the farms but in the hills as well, and the wild stags will revert to their usual wary way of life. They'll retain their antlers through the winter then, in late spring or early summer, shed them as they start growing a new set.

These two sets of antlers hang next to where I park my car. So far I haven't walked into them. The big set is from one of the red stags who used to live here; the smaller set is from a wild fallow.

[22 March 2014, Olympus OM-D EM-1, 1240mm f/4, ISO 1600, 1/8 at f/2.8]

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pete...kind of haunting seeing the racks hanging there, just as there is an eerie thrill, and smell, when hearing that roar, or hearing the thrashing about up close. I know we don't have bears, wolves, and big cats here, but one of those racks attached to a few hundred pounds of testosterone maddened stag is not to be taken lightly. At least without a gun. Last year I went to Maropea Forks in the Roar and arrived to find six stag heads, all very small in comparison to even the fallow, lined up outside the hut in a rather macabre display. I felt sadness for the fact the population does need to controlled, but the wanton slaughter seems so deflating.

pohanginapete said...

Kia ora Robb. I feel the same way — I have conflicting thoughts about hunting, but I suspect that any reason the shooters of those six stags might offer would be a post-hoc rationalisation, not the real one. Still, it's too easy to stereotype hunters in a way that's grossly unfair on those who do have high ethical standards.

I can understand the thrill of stalking a roaring stag (although I'm alarmed at the accelerating trend towards sniping at deer at extreme ranges where the likelihood of wounding is great). What I find harder is understanding the reason for killing the animal once you've stalked it or roared it close in. A stag during the roar is probably tougher and more foul-tasting than Komodo Dragon*.

* I hasten to add that I haven't eaten Komodo Dragon, but you'll get the idea ;^)

Relatively Retiring said...

I hope those are not at eye-level?
A very sad photograph - something about all that effort....for what?

pohanginapete said...

RR, that was my thought too — so much effort for a few weeks' reward (although, given the fighting, I'm not sure 'reward' is the right word. Sometimes the imperative to reproduce has a lot to answer for).