IN SEARCH FOR THE KILLER
A rod-shaped sword characterized the end of its antlers. Only the `luchaderas´ stood down. Short, thick and strong horns, but with the indesirable quality of not locking against the rival´s antlers during the struggle for females in the mating season. This in most of the cases leads to the rivals death, when the assassin’s branches stick against the victim’s neck: this is what we call “the Killer”.
A killer was spotted while hunting at the end of March, but let it scape in order to search for a supposedly better trophy. The truth is that I was uneasy after releasing it. Therefore, I decided to return.
At the beginning of April Mauro Videla came to the camp, a hunter from the city Rosario (S F) with whom I had shared several wildhog hunts. Mauro’s aim was a Red Deer and, of course, he would listen to the deer’s roaming for the first time.
It was Friday afternoon, the field was for us, and we decided to explore the area before the great hunt. We walked across the field and the woods and watched from the hills with binoculars looking for some nice deer. In the evening, after locating the place where the roaming was coming from we returned to the cottage to have something to eat and to prepare ourselves for the following day.
The next morning Juan appeared, the shepherd of the neighboring field, knowledgeable about the hills and everything around. He would ensure that our hunting would be memorable.
We set off our trek across the woods at the break of dawn. We walked unconsciously towards the place where the old male “killer” had been with its does. I remember it lying on the ground, roaming quietly knowing its harem was under control. It was tough walk, but it was worth the sacrifice; and we were not going to quit now.
-… Wait a minute Vivanco!
-… What’s up Mauro?
-…I’m tired, I can’t go on!
-… What? Juan wait, the hunter is tired!
-…This is definitely not for me. Let’s go back! I can’t walk any more… deer hunting is not for me.
Exact words of a dialogue that predicted everything concluded there. Words of encouragement and counsel failed to convince Mauro to go on…”Let’s go back then…”
Lunch brought along different plans for the killing, and when we asked the Rosarino whether he would wait till we return with the deer his response was emphatic…
-…”I’ll hunt it walking or I’ll go without hunting”… everything said and understood.
Saturday afternoon went unnoticed. Another quiet walk, we listened to the deer’s roaming and marked two or three places of roar, then we returned in order not to tire Mauro. He had to be ready for Sunday hunt.
We had gone to bed early so that the next morning we would get up with dawn. Juan and I prepared “mate” and got the hunting gear ready for our departure. It was everything or nothing.
Walking slowly, giving the hunter pace, and trying to be close to the deer at night was our plan. The shepherd left us on a hill and went to camouflage the van. We realised the deer was close, and suddenly one snored right there…We were behind a bush to see it appear from about 30 metres away. According to Mauro who had seen through the sight of his gun, it had seven points; with a naked eye I just saw a shape as it was still dark. With Juan’s arrival the deer fled downhill wile bellowing.
We aimed at the loudest roar and started walking. the red deer seemed to move in the same direction as us and looked for the dirtiest part of the field. Moving slowly so as not to make noise, we suddenly saw two ears appear…then two more… and suddenly the crowd of two wild boars followed by their piglets seemed o have been playing hide and seek with us.
The sun was above us and Juan managed to see the deer down a slope with the binoculars. We hurried up … and then I recognised it … it was the one I had once missed, the owner of those pointy antlers and low roar. It had been hunt but kept his female in a clear sign of triumph. It was about 130 metres ahead with its head down. I told the hunter that we wouldn’t have a better chance and almost as an order I whispered:
-… “You must hunt it Mauro, it’s a must”…
Sure about the decision he had made, Mauro just raised his arm, aimed at the animal and fire the .308 right at its neck. “The Killer” fell down in the same place where it had stood to no longer move. The does that accompanied the killer fled as they heard the shot, and would probably be with a deer which deserved o leave its offspring. We approached the animal to confirm that we had been right hunting it. Its decline was evdent, and on top of that, the shape of its horns made it impossible for rivals to defeat it. We took some pictures and contemplated the animal for a while. Where the bullet had entered the deer and how it had died was anecdotal and had to do with those things that only happened while hunting.
Videla was really overwhelmed by the heat and tiredness, but the fact that he had hunted his prey gave him enough strength to go in search for a second trophy n the afternoon.
The Second Prey
We could barely hear a deer cough. There was no movement of an animal at all, but Juan noticed a male no more than 800 metres away moving very slowly through the bus. In front of it four does were moving a little more nervously. The shepherd and the hunter crossed he fence and set off in pursuit of the game. As for me, I walked in the same direction as the deer.
We separated, and an hour and a half later I heard the shot followed shortly after by two more shots. It was then that I rushed to see what had happened. Halfway I found Mauro, he was exhausted and sweaty. I gave him the binoculars and the torch to run freely. About 300 metres away was Juan, he as walking briskly.
I reached him at the precise moment when the deer with 11 branches in its antlers, mortally wounded, was standing up. There, without hesitating, I put an end to the hunting firing a shot at the deer’s neck with my 375.
A beautiful deer was photographed when the evening reached us. Videla’s face denoted the bustle of the three days of exhausting hunt, perhaps the same bustle was to blame for his low shot at the deer’s neck.
Our happiness was immense, as we had started without hoe and almost on the verge of giving up the hunt. The success of this Sunday was irrefutable.
At night the fire brought us together again, we dealt with what we had hunted with the relevant guideline for the transfer and the seals for the deer’s’ heads.
Mauro would leave the field the following morning to return to Rosario. Now his dream had come true, to see hanging on his wall his first trophy.
As for me, I had got rid of that uneasiness after letting the red deer go away that day. Now I wouldn’t have to be searching for the Killer…
Martin Vivanco (Linyera)