Episode 3, Season 1

bow hunt fallow deer

Behind the Scenes

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The Hunt

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 People

The following people appeared in this episode. Click on their photos below to follow them on social media. 

Tash Byfield
Tash Byfield
Andrew Hooper
Andrew Hooper
Rod Byfield
Rod Byfield
Jess Byfield
Jess Byfield
Rebecca Byfield
Rebecca Byfield
James Mitchell
James Mitchell
Jack Byfield
Jack Byfield
The Location

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. 

Animals hunted

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. 

NAME

Fallow deer

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Dama dama

RECOMMENDED FIREPOWER

Firearm - .243 or larger. Bow - 50lbs draw weight

WHERE TO HUNT

AUS, NZ, SA, USA, EUROPE, AR

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. 

Slow cooked curry with venison neck
Venison neck curry
Skinning a stubborn carcass
Skinning a stubborn carcass
Ageing your game meat
How to wet age meat
Gear List

You can click on any of the images below to go to the website to purchase or find out more about any of the products that we used in this episode.

We have tried to make the list as exhaustive as possible, however, if we have missed anything that you would like to know more about, please send us an email at team@huntshack.net and we’d be happy to help out.

If you are a member of I Am Hunter, you can save money on some of these products by using your exclusive discount codes available on the Discounts and Rewards page. If you are not a member of I Am Hunter, you can still click on the images to go to the product listings and as always you are more than welcome to join I Am Hunter to access all of our member rewards for yourself.

Ridgeline Assault Waterproof Jacket
Ridgeline Assault Waterproof Jacket

*IAH members can get 10% off through Camo Warehouse

Ridgeline Defender Black Hunting Gaiters

*IAH members can get 10% off through Camo Warehouse

Ridgeline Pro Hunt LS Top
Ridgeline Pro Hunt Long Sleeve Top

*IAH members can get 10% off through Camo Warehouse

Ridgeline Neketai Camo
Ridgeline Neketai Gaiter

*IAH members can get 10% off through Camo Warehouse

Spika Reversable Camo Blaze Orange Beanie
Spika Reversible Beanie

*IAH members can get 10% off through Camo Warehouse

Ridgeline Tru Grip Gloves

*IAH members can get 10% off through Camo Warehouse

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If you are an I Am Hunter member, of course, you can watch the episode right here on the I Am Hunter website. 

If you’re not a member, you can watch episodes of I Am Hunter on the MOTV network. Click the link below. 

Episode Sponsors
Garmin

Garmin make durable devices engineered on the inside for life on the outside. Their products go wherever you go and track your precise location in the process. Go farther than ever before when hunting and finding adventure.

Winchester

Winchester have been supplying quality ammunition and firearms in Australia since 1967. Other brands include Browning, CZ, Steyr, Huglu, Norma ammunition, ADI gun powders, and Meopta optics.

Burris

Burris wide range of optics are built tough to provide a lifetime of reliable performance in the field. The company has so much faith in their products that they provide a lifetime guarantee on all of their optics.

Foodsaver

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.

Mansfield Hunting and Fishing

Situated in Victoria's High Country, Mansfield Hunting & Fishing stocks a huge array of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear. I Am Hunter members enjoy a 10% discount on any purchases made in-store or online.

Behind the scenes photos

What is I Am Hunter?

I Am Hunter has a lofty goal to change the way hunting is perceived in the community. Hunters can find a wide range of tools and resources to help them improve their skills and become positive role models and advocates for the hunting community. 

I Am Hunter is a member-supported website. By paying a small monthly or annual fee, members help keep most of the content free, which in turn helps to spread a positive message about hunting with the wider community.

In return, members enjoy exclusive rewards and benefits including member-only content, discount codes, and giveaways. 

Related content

If you would like to know more about bow hunting, fallow deer or hunting in Tasmania, check out these related articles and podcasts. 

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