Roar 2023 Adventure: Lessons Learned in the Wild
Guest blogger Cam Forlong shares his Roar 2023 trip report highlighting how important campsite selection and carrying communications devices are for a long trip into Aotearoa’s wilderness.
This year for the Roar my girlfriend Moira and I teamed up for nine days in the West Coast region. Moi has been on plenty of hunting trips before but nothing quite like the expedition style we planned this year. Our goal was to make our way into a wilderness area where we hoped to find lots of animals and not many people.
Day 1 began with a 4-hour drive to the road end followed by an hour's ride in a jet boat. By this stage we were more than ready to start beating our feet. We spent the afternoon slogging up a steep hill, not a track maker insight. At times the bush was so thick our progress was reduced to a slow crawl. As evening closed in, we found a flat patch of dirt large enough for our tent and called it a day.
The next day was more of the same, dense foliage, river crossings and steep terrain - and some wasp stings - despite all this, spirits were high!
By the third day we had made it to some beautiful open country, big river flats with tussock tops just above us and it didn’t take long to spot several deer and hear some distant roars. All very exciting but first we needed to find a good campsite as it would be our base for the next few days. Most of the flat land around here was sodden grass which would turn into a swamp during heavy rain, after some time we found a nice firm patch of ground, slightly elevated above the surroundings.
At this campsite we had two days of excellent weather, we climbed up to some epic vantage points including a huge rock biv and spotted a couple of roaring stags in the distance. During these fine days we encountered two other parties of hunters, they all had some form of high viz clothing which made them easy to spot. We approached them and discussed what their plans were and where they had come from. It’s an odd feeling bumping into other people in such a remote area. It really confirmed that you should expect to see other hunters no matter where you are during the Roar.
We received news of a nasty weather system via InReach, hardly surprising given the fine run we'd had. Some adjustments to our camping set up were made in anticipation of strong wind and heavy rain. Securing the tent guy ropes to large rocks or a stack of smaller rocks made sure the tent held its shape throughout the storm. In total, it rained for about 24 hours with some hectic thunder and lightning at times. Besides some minor tent leaks we were comfy as!
I had a few different size dry bags with me on this trip and found them super handy during this rough weather, keeping the essential clothing and electronic devices in a dry bag was really important. Even in a tent the moisture finds its way into everything that's not bagged up.
Once the weather cleared, we packed up our camp and climbed up to the tops, over a pass and into the next catchment. The route leading up to the pass involved a lot of sidling and some careful navigation. Progress was slow and steady until we reached an awesome glassing spot and stopped for lunch. Lunch was rudely interrupted by a stag roaring down below us, he was very big bodied with even 10-point antlers. Definitely a shooter for us at this stage of the trip.
We dropped some elevation, closing the distance down to 200m. Approaching him from above worked well as he seldom looked upward. Moi had the rifle and took her time to get into a comfortable shooting position, then took her shot. Hitting right in the shoulder, the stag was down instantly, a great shot. Mois' first stag, and to get it in such a cool place was epic. Excitement levels were peaking as we made our way down to where the stag lay.
We exchanged high-fives and spent a couple of hours reliving what had just happened, taking photos and butchering the stag.
It was well after dark by the time we made it down to the valley floor and set up camp for the last night of the trip!
The final day was a huge slog back to civilisation. The endless hours of walking gave a great opportunity to reflect on the trip, the highs and lows, and then scheming up the next big mission. Arriving back at the truck, locking up the firearms for transporting, it was beers and chips to end the trip.
Learnings from Cam’s trip report:
- Bringing a new hunter to a trip takes a bit of extra planning but great to test and demonstrate skills
- River crossings are an important aspect of Roar hunting, so sound knowledge of how to cross is important.
- Carrying emergency communications devices are crucial for communicating with a trusted contact and receiving important weather updates.
- Campsite selection and considering elevations is really important.
Header photo: Glassing down the valley, it was from here that I spotted other hunters.