Article courtesy of South Pacific Bowhunter Magazine. Please click on the South Pacific Bowhunter Magazine link to view the website.
Author: Casey McCallum
As soon as the weather starts to heat up each year my thoughts go from deer to big billies and it wasn’t long after the first heat wave in October that a mate and I had organised a hunt. We were going to head to a property that I have recently gained access to after a mate of mine had bought it. My mate has worked in outback nsw for most of his life and he told me that he’s been getting bigger billies in the musters on this new place of his than he’s seen anywhere else before. All this info had me keen as and I’d already been up there a couple times over winter but because of the amount of scrub on the place we didn’t happen to bump into anything larger then 35inches in width. I was sure that there were some monsters out there we just needed the heat to bring them unstuck.
The week before we were to leave the temperature was in the 40’s but the day we left a cool change came through and dropped about 25points of rain on us. Things weren’t looking good as we had five days and the temperature only reached the mid 30’s by the last couple days of our hunt. We gave it a crack regardless and tried ambushing a few goats on water not far from the homestead.
Day one and we were up at first light and the ground was pretty damp which was a bit of a concern. We made it out to the dam and set up in an old tank to use as a blind 30 metres from where the goats would drink. The dam had got quite boggy with the cattle pushing in the edges when they drank so the dam had been fenced off and a tank was now feeding a couple troughs that were getting pumped out by a windmill. This made it easy to set up a blind within range as it limited the animals to where they could water.
As the first rays of light streaked through the black oaks there were a few mobs on the move and coming into drink. The wind was a bit all over the place but lucky for us being so remote the goats were pretty quiet and we soon had mobs coming and going from the trough. After looking over around 100 or more goats we were yet to see a billy, or anything with any age. We were getting quite complacent in the blind and nick actually grabbed his laptop out and we put on a hunting dvd to pass the time. I decided to have a bit of an overdue look over the top of the tank and sure enough a big grey billy with a decent rack on him was drinking from the trough! He didn’t look to be near my PB so nick was up and he was soon perched up on the esky looking through the shooting lane we had made earlier.
There would have been 50 goats crowded around the trough drinking. Getting a clear shot was tough and eventually the billy started to move off. I let out a couple of desperate bleats trying to get him to pull up but they were ignored. Just as I thought he was going to move out of range he stopped quartering away. Nicks arrow flew true and took him low through the heart dropping him within a couple paces. The slow start had turned around now and nick had his PB billy on the ground. We jogged out there together with the tape measure and camera to get a few pictures and remove his horns. The tape got stretched to just under 35 inches and he looked pretty impressive with the horns sweeping straight up and out so nick was stoked.
With the trophy sorted and pictures taken we were back in the blind until about 11am when all the action stopped and the goats were bedded. Nothing else of real interest came in and it was obvious with the rain and cooler weather the big old boys didn’t need a drink so they weren’t going to risk it when they didn’t need to. We drove around most of the afternoon trying to glass up something with trophy potential but the terrain really wasn’t suited to glassing at all. The country was mostly flat and thick with either black oak and waist high salt bush, or mallee scrub with thick hop bush between it, which limits your visibility to about 50 metres. Ambushing the watering points seemed to be the only option and we hoped the weather would heat up quick.
Day two and a whole morning was sat at the same water with a few nice young billies around the 30 inch mark coming in but nothing we wanted to put an arrow through. In the afternoon we went for a drive out to the western side of the property, as there is a dam on a clay pan there that apparently had a nice mob of billies hanging around it. As we got there we could see about 150 goats bedded all over the dam bank. This is more like it I thought as we pulled the ute to a halt half a kilometre away and started glassing through the binoculars. A few sets of horns were revealed so we kitted up and headed in for a stalk. The dam is on a big clay pan with no cover until you get to the dam bank where a few weeds and spindly trees grow so it was a case of move swiftly and keep low and hope they don’t notice us approaching in their mid afternoon slumber. We reached the dam bank fairly well undetected and managed to have a proper glass over the herd. There were no record beaters but a few nice trophy billies in the low to mid 30 inch range. There was a really curly horned fella that looked a bit different and I decided to have a stalk at him. I had to push a few goats off to get to him and soon most of the goats were moving off and it looked like I was out of luck. As the billy I wanted dropped over the dam bank I jogged over as quick as I could and to my surprise he hadn’t gone far at all. I let out a bleat, which pulled him up at 40 metres and nailed him through the top of the heart broadside. He wasn’t a bad billy, perhaps a little smaller than what I guessed him as he went just over 34 inches wide, but with a unique curly set I was happy to take him. Its times like this in the open country out west when the Lamellar ContraCAM Fade pattern I like to wear really performs. It’s a unique design that surely has proven effective for us many times over when closing the distance on game in open habitat.
The rest of the day we spent driving around getting a bearing on where all the water was and the country they were in and although a couple good billies were spotted they were soon gone from the noise of the car.
That night my station owner mate said he had been talking to the neighbouring manager and that it would be fine to go and hunt on that station as well if we wished and he thought there would be a good chance of big billies out there as apparently it was a lot thicker. He also told us that the week before we came up the manager shot a billy with a 116cm spread so hopes were high.
The next morning we met up with a couple of mates who had made the drive out for a hunt and we decided to head over and check out this new place for a couple days. On the way we met up with another mate of mine Brownie who made the trip along for a couple days chasing the stinkers. The new station was huge and full of thick scrub and going by the carcasses on the dam banks the manager had been cleaning a few up himself. He told us of a few dams that had some good mobs watering off them and left us to it. That first day we pretty much just drove around in a convoy checking out the place and setting up some game cameras on the dams we passed. By evening we had a pretty good idea what waters we wanted to be hunting off the next morning and after putting a few meat goats in the freezer it was a pretty good day and nice to be in some new country.
The next morning Brownie, Nick and I went and sat on a big dam about eight kilometres from camp and although we shot a few meat goats nothing with any size came in. We did manage to get a nice feed of big yabbies while we were there so it wasn’t a total waste.
The next day and we chose another dam but the same thing, the big billies must have been getting enough moisture out of the foliage they were eating as they just weren’t showing up at the waters. We still had a good day though and Brownie knocked over a heap as well as nick because this station was a kill everything instruction as he doesn’t like goats and doesn’t muster them down in the thick scrub here.
Another nice goat curry in camp and we were to say goodbye to brownie and he headed for home. The next day we decided to head back to my mates station for a look and had a big drive around showing the boys some country. They had a bit of success with the rifles as we stalked the bedded mobs off the waters but again nothing record breaking was shot.
The last day was approaching and nick and I decided to sit of where we started as my mate said there had been a few big horned bilies watering there while we were off at the other station. The vic boys had a nice open watercourse to walk through and water to hit that I hadn’t visited since last trip up so we had our plans.
Nick and I got down and all set up by first light and the heat was doing the job big time as goats soon started to stream in. Lots of young goats drank but there were more decent billies than the last time we sat off coming in and I was hopeful that soon a shooter would walk in. A few billies came in that we thought about shooting, but in the end we let them all go as most were under or around the 34-35 inch mark.
As I stood up on the esky and had a good glass around the surrounding scrub, I caught the sun reflecting off a horn coming from out the back. I watched closely as a really nice black and white billy strolled out the bluebush with his horns twisting back up behind him and out wide enough to get me excited. A big white billy joined him as well and they both looked as impressive as each other. After getting nicks attention he got the camera ready and I chose to try and take the black and white fella as I loved the style of horns he carried. He marched in like he owned the place and tossed a young goat aside with his horns as he trotted in to the water. There were goats crowded around the water and getting a clear shot was almost impossible. I drew back a few times but just couldn’t get an angle or clear enough shot without the chance of hitting a goat behind it. Eventually he lifted his head from drinking and I drew back in anticipation. He backed out from the other goats and as he cleared the last goat my arrow was on its way and hit him sweet. He only made a fifteen metre dash and went straight down.
I quickly grabbed the camera off of nick and told him to get ready as the white one was still drinking. We switched position and soon nick was drawing back and letting down trying to get a clear shot on the big white billy. This went on for quite some time but eventually he managed to let an arrow loose through the back of the lungs. The billy hardly knew what happened and wandered off from the water and blacked out.
We were both pretty excited at this stage as they looked good and I even had thoughts that we might have just finally cracked that 40 inch mark that I have been trying for so long to reach. We jumped out of the tank and wandered over with the to nicks billy. He was an awesome looking goat and when we put the tape on him he stretched it out to 38 5/8 inches wide and a new pb. We then moved over to mine and he was almost identical with a 38 4/8″ spread. Not the ultimate goal of a 40 inch spread, but with a couple cracking styled sets we were both over the moon.
It was amazing to hunt for five days then shoot a goat each within five minutes and both goats going almost the same spread. After our success it was going to take a big billy to make us shoot another and we watched a couple other good goats come in and drink but they weren’t quite bigger than what we had so we let them walk.
After meting up with the vic boys and bragging about our goats we left for home and I had plans to return as soon as it got proper hot. I got sidetracked with a new pig property over most of December but January came around and my good mate benno was down for work. He had the weekend free down here so we decided to head back to my big billy block and try and get him a PB. Chad a mate from home was keen as well and he met us near the property and we all jammed in my cruiser for the short drive into the property.
We caught up with my owner mate and he said he hadn’t seen any real monsters for a while and that our guess would be as good as his so we headed to the same dam out on the clay pan on the Saturday evening and set up camp. The next morning we sat in ambush on the dam bank and with the temp predicted to reach 44 today we were hopeful of some action.
We looked over heaps of goats but nothing with any trophy potential until we decided to change the scenery and on the way back to the car we bumped into a nice billy. Benno was up and he followed the black billy into the scrub. Chad and I went back to the car and got stuck into the cold drinks in the esky. About 15 minutes later benno rocked up dragging a stick so we knew he had been successful. We all crammed in the cruiser and followed benno’s stick drag to the downed billy. He was a bloody nice old goat with a 34 plus inch spread on him. Benno had his pb and chad was up next. We bashed along the fence line for two paddocks to cut a track that took us to another water source and a goat trap right out the back of the property. My mate said he hasn’t seriously trapped the goats out there and there was every chance of a few big boys. We were a bit late being around midday but hoped there might still be a few bedded around the water and we weren’t disappointed. We left the ute about 1km back and did a huge loop to get the wind right. We followed a dusty goat pad that wound through the bluebush and black oaks towards the water and soon picked up the colour of goats spread out everywhere in the shade of some oaks. There was a high percentage of billies here and a few of them looked pretty bloody good. We spent a heap of time getting in at different angles trying to get a look at all the goats. There were quite a few in the low to maybe mid 30 inch range and one white billy that looked to be around 36-37 which would be close to chads PB. It was decided that he would fit the bill and the stalk was on. Benno went around the other side and waited off a pad incase chad spooked them his way.
Chad did well and got within 40 meters then was pinned by a couple nannies facing his way. He prepared himself for the shot while I looked on with the binoculars. His shot went high over the billies back and there was a bit of a commotion as the goats milled around before moving off. Another big white billy we hadn’t originally seen walked out and chad locked onto his new target. The whole mob walked along a pad away from the water and there would have been close to 100 goats. The big white fella looked bloody good and we jogged along behind them just far enough back to keep him in sight but not spook any of them.
The goats moved through some thicker hop bush, which gave us the chance to gain some ground and cut in front of them. We got around the thick clump of bushes just in time as the goats started to walk out still following the pad now broadside only 20m away. The big fella stepped out and chad drew back. He caught chads draw and stared us down but it was too late as the arrow was away and punched through behind the shoulder. After a short dash he nose dived in a cloud of dust. It was at about that stage that we could see his true size. The body on the brute was enormous and threw my estimation of him on the hoof off a bit but for a change it was in the other direction. I guessed him at about 38 inches and he stretched the tape to a whopping 42 6/8 inches wide.
I have been after a goat like that for 10 years now but I was still stoked to see a good mate take him and really appreciate him as a trophy. He’s going to be a proud shoulder mount on chads wall and one that will be very hard to beat. We were a little way off the water now so cut a b-line for the ute and drove it in to find benno. We found him, asleep in the shade next to a nice 32 inch billy so it looked like we weren’t the only ones having all the fun.
It is great to see the block I’m hunting has the potential to produce big 40 inch billies and I’m sure there are still a couple out there to be found. The hunt is still on for me and that elusive 40 incher and I know it’s only a matter of time before we cross paths.