Behind the Scenes
In this hunt, Tash hunts her first deer with a bow and discovers for herself why there’s a hashtag on Instagram called #bowhuntingsucks.
Up until this hunt, Tash had mostly shot her bow at a static target in the backyard. The only animal she had successfully taken with her bow was a rabbit at the farm, and you’ve never seen someone so excited to shoot a humble rabbit!
Anyone who has tried bow hunting knows it is hard work.
For starters, you have to get so much closer to the animals than you do with a rifle – usually within 30 – 60 yards to ensure an ethical shot. That means you have to pretty much become a master stalker. You may even need to commando crawl to get close enough.
Living in Tasmania adds a whole different level of difficulty, as it is the only state in Australia that doesn’t allow bowhunting. Technically, you can take rabbits and feral cats using any humane method (which could be construed to include a bow), but bow hunting native animals and deer is strictly forbidden.
However, at the time that this episode was filmed, there was a small loophole in the law that allowed bow hunting of deer on one property, as it was originally set up as a game ranch, and the animals were not deemed wild but classified as livestock.
We were happy to take advantage of that loophole and provide Tash an opportunity to hunt her first fallow deer close to home.
(NOTE: that loophole has since been closed by the government and bow hunting has become an even more contentious issue that is hotly contested by hunters and non-hunters alike).
Coincidentally, while this is episode three of our season, it was actually the first time we had ever filmed a hunt, so not only was Tash bow hunting for the first time, she was also learning how to hunt with a film crew and a whole gamut of camera gear in tow, as well as our guide, Andrew Hooper (Hoops).
Over the course of the next few days, Tash got a crash course in bow hunting in the field. It was so much different to what she’d learned in the back yard – and so different to the way she normally hunted with a rifle. She had to be quieter, wait longer, crawl along the ground on her belly with her bow slung over her shoulder, and to consider the noise her bow made when she drew back an arrow.
She even learned the importance of ranging when she took a shot at a young buck at 50 yards only to discover they’d actually ranged the grass just in front of the buck! Needless to say, the arrow fell short and the buck made his escape.
There was no shortage of bucks and it was easy enough to get within 100 yards of them. But closing that gap and getting to within 50 yards was a lot more difficult.
If the boys didn’t spot her, the does would bark and alert the mob.
Late in the afternoon of the third day, they were just heading back to the cabin to call it a day when Hoops spotted a doe grazing on her own. Sure, she would have loved to bag a buck but the boys just weren’t interested in playing ball. And at the end of the day, the hunt was more about learning the technique, and filling the freezer than putting a set of antlers on the wall.
This time Rod stayed behind to give Tash and Hoops a better chance of stalking in close. They slowly made their way towards the doe, slithering like snakes across the grass. It took them over an hour to close the distance but they finally got to within 40 yards of the doe. She was still feeding, completely unaware of their presence.
But now Tash faced a whole new challenge. She had only ever shot her bow while standing but now she had to draw it back while on the ground, and slowly get to her feet while holding her bowstring at full draw!
Time stood still as she released the arrow and it flew true, hitting its target right behind the doe’s shoulder.
She had her first deer on the ground, and she couldn’t be happier!
The following people appeared in this episode. Click on their photos below to follow them on social media.
The hunt took place at Currawong Lakes, an exclusive private estate of 2000 acres nestled amongst the State Forest of Tasmania’s East Coast Highlands.
Located around 2 hours north east of the capital Hobart, the property was originally set up as a game ranch and trout fishery by its original owner, who hosted private fly fishing, pheasant shoots and deer hunting for his wealthy British and European friends. With that in mind, no expense was spared in setting up the property and the accommodation, and it still houses one of the most impressive privately-owned clay target ranges we have ever seen.
Today, the property mainly operates as a fly fishing destination, though a healthy herd of fallow deer still roam the 2000 acres. While bow hunting is off limits, at least for the moment, fallow deer can still be hunted for trophy or meat through Hunting Tasmania, an outfit previously owned by our guide, Andrew Hooper.
In this episode, Tash hunted a fallow deer, which is Tasmania’s only deer species.
Male fallow deer (bucks) are prized for their impressive palm-like antlers that have earned them the nickname ‘mini moose’. Mature males weigh between 60 and 100kg, The females (does) do not have antlers and weigh in at around half the body weight of their male counterparts.
Fallow deer are partly protected in Tasmania. They can only be hunted with the appropriate game licences and tags (for bucks) during the approved season.
Click the image below for a more in-depth look at the fallow deer.
Game Saver Tips
As this hunt took place so close to home, we were able to take all of the meat from the doe to fill our freezer.
We always age our meat before freezing as it helps to break down the fibres and tenderise the meat.
Ageing also removes a lot of the ‘gamey’ flavours.
There are two methods of ageing: dry or wet. They both produce a far superior meat than venison that is not aged.
We tend to use wet ageing more often, as it requires less room, and results in less shrinkage (meat loss).
We seal whole cuts into vacuum sealed bags using our Game Saver. The added benefit with this particular machine is it has a 12v adaptor that means you can also use it in the field or back at camp.
Once in the bags, pop in the bottom of the fridge for 1 – 2 weeks, and then straight into the freezer. I promise you’ll notice a difference in your meat.
The backstraps didn’t quite make the bag though, finding them way straight onto the BBQ and serving as a hearty dinner straight after the hunt!
Below you will find one of our favourite venison recipes – a slow cooked venison curry using one of the most underrated cuts of meat, neck meat. We have also included a tutorial for how to skin a stubborn carcass, which can often happen if you don’t have the opportunity to field dress the animal straight away, as well as some instructions on how to wet age your meat.
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FoodSaver is a leading producer of vacuum sealer systems that help you preserve food freshness and flavor, and limit waste. We use their GameSaver as its built tough for use in the field, and even comes with a 12V adaptor.
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Behind the scenes photos
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If you would like to know more about bow hunting, fallow deer or hunting in Tasmania, check out these related articles and podcasts.