Into the Land of Oz

About 8 months ago I received an email from Tim Thomason with Nature Blinds. It essentially read, “I’ve agreed on your behalf for you to go to Australia to do a couple of talks at their version of the SHOT Show in late June, early July. For doing that they’ll take you on a buffalo hunt in Australia’s Northern Territory. Hope it was OK! Oh yeah, you’ll be going with Jerry Brasher from Yoakum (as in Texas… Jerry as you know does a lot for Nature Blinds and is also now doing some things with MaxBox, a gun rest company based in Australia). I’ll get back with you later regarding details!”

Soon as I got the email, I checked my late June, early July calendar…there were only a couple of “obstacles” and those could easily be postponed.

As I was typing a “count me in” reply, it started to sink in… AUSTRALIA… I had long wanted to hunt “The Land of Oz” and particularly pursue their buffalo, Asiatic buffalo which had been introduced there back in the 1820’s. Several friends of mine had done so and now finally I was going.

During my thankfully somewhat long hunting career I’ve hunted in North America, of course, but also in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, New Zealand and now finally I could also say I had hunted Australia thus completing having hunted all the major land masses on Earth. However, still hoping to hunt Greenland and Iceland as well!

A few days after the email from Tim I started corresponding with Jerry Brasher (Harley’s House of Guns, named after his son by the way). I told Jerry one of the things I really wanted to do in Australia, beyond hunt buffalo was to see how close I could get to them using my signature stalking shield from Nature Blinds. He agreed!

“What about a rifle, you going to take your’s?” asked Jerry. I told him I’d get back with him later. I knew which gun I wanted to take, naturally a .375 Ruger Ruger Guide Gun, shooting Hornady’s 300 grain DGX ammo and using 300 grain DGS as a possible back up if necessary. Friends who had hunted Australian buffalo had told me they generally were bigger bodied than Africa’s Cape buffalo, but not always as aggressive as Cape buffalo or the western savannah buffalo I had previously hunted in Africa. But, I had also heard some hair-raising tales about how tough and tenacious Australian buffalo can be.

I knew Ruger sold a lot of rifles in Australia, so I called Ruger (who happens to sponsor my “Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” television series) and asked what might be the possibility of getting the use of Ruger .375 Ruger Guide Gun while I was in Australia. After a brief discussion, Ken Jorgensen came up with a great option. Ken planned on hunting buffalo in Australia only a short time after I would be there. “Let’s do this, we’ll send a Guide Gun to Australia for you to use, leave it there, because something tells me you’ll be wanting to go back. We’ll help take care of all the paperwork through our distributor. Get the information who will be your contact while you’re there.” Now that sounded like a fabulous plan. Ruger would send a Ruger Guide Gun to Australia, have it “assigned” to a resident of Australia who would do all the proper paperwork, including so I could use it while I hunted.” Perfect!

A few minutes later I called Neil Davies at Hornady. “I’m headed to Australia to hunt buffalo in late June, is there anyway I can get some ammo sent over for me to use while there? (Hornady too, is a major sponsor of my “Trailing the Hunter’s Moon”) I know ya’ll sell a lot of ammo in the “Land Down Under”. If not I’ll see if I can buy some where there.”

“Let’s do this, I’ll see if I can get some .375 Ruger 300 grain DGX and maybe a box of 300 grain DGS sent to Australia for you to use, we’ll do it through our distributor. Shouldn’t be a problem. When do you leave?”

I was liking this Australian trip more and more. It would be great if I didn’t have to worry about the paperwork of getting a rifle and ammo into Australia, even though it really isn’t a problem!

I had an extra Zeiss Terra 4-12X scope I was really wanting to try on a .375 Ruger, This would be the perfect opportunity to see how it would do on a dangerous game rifle. I could carry the Zeiss scope with me and mount it once I got there. As it worked out I mounted it on my personal Ruger Guide Gun, zeroed it in at the FTW Ranch (SAAM ranges), then took it off to carry with with to Australia. Interestingly, when mounted on rifle in Australia it was essentially sighted in!

I made a couple more calls, one to Global Rescue to be certain I was a fully paid up member, because I had been told we would be in a truly remote area and one where lived 5 species of extremely dangerous snakes. Also should I be so unfortunate to be gored by a buffalo, I wanted to be certain I would be gotten to a doctor and home. The area we were to hunt too has some strange other maladies. Global Rescue also includes a service where you can speak with a doctor about what’s going on while you’re abroad. Perfect!

The other call I made was to Travel with Guns to set up flights for me, as well as Jerry Brasher. As it worked out Jerry and his gracious wife, Tammy, took care of all the details regarding travel, hotels, etc. That took a huge load from me, things I normally take care of myself.

Yeah, there was one other call. I called Dan at The Wildlife Gallery and told him I was going to Australia to hunt buffalo and could he please have someone send me some laminated tags for the buffalo cape, horns and skull I intended to take while there and send to the Wildlife Gallery for them to do their taxidermy magic on.

A few days before leaving I packed and repacked, making certain I had enough Walls shirts and coat, but not too many to exceed the flight weight restrictions. I knew we would spend some time in southern Australia where it would be cool to cold, and then head to the northern part of the continent where it would be warm to hot! I also need clothes to wear while doing presentations in Sydney.

The day finally came to leave for Australia. I had my wife drop me at the airport, where I met Jerry. It took a little while to check in because Jerry planned on taking some of my Nature Blind Stalking Shields with us, the airline was not certain the boxes would fit in cargo.. But we got it done.

The flight from San Antonio to Los Angeles was a long one. The flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia was a horribly longer one! In route we lost a day when we crossed the International Date line, the flight attendant who told us that, then told us we would gain a day on our flight back….

Finally in Australia, we were met by Steve and Michael Abdennour owners of Eagle Eye Products. We visited with them, then headed to our hotel. The next day we prepared for the Australian SHOT Expo. Then two days of show time, lots of talk, meet and greet, talks before nice crowds, and visits with numerous serious Aussie hunters! There too we met Dave Fent, owner of “Aussie Hunting Adventures” a new TV show about to debut in Australia. It was Dave who had set up our upcoming buffalo hunt. He would be driving the 2500 or so miles to the North Territories to meet Jerry and me in Darwin three days after the show closed. It was at the show too I met “Dodge” Rhyse Keir, who too would be flying to Darwin with us. Dodge is an extremely knowledgeable hunter, who has guided not only in Australia but also in North America.

The day after the show closed Steve, Mike, Jerry and I drove about 7 hours to Glen Innes to hunt with Ron Kiehne known for his SILVAFox fox whistles. Actually I didn’t hunt because I didn’t have a hunting license for that Australian state, I only had one for the North Territories.

Our first morning out, I saw my first kangaroo. Before the next 3 days were over I would see many, many of the large marsupials. They seemed to be just about everywhere, some were by themselves, but others were in small groups.

It was fun watching Ron call up red foxes and others shoot them. Some of those “in camp” also shot abundant fallow deer. To be honest I had a lot of fun simply watching!

And while I enjoyed being a spectator to others hunting, I was anxious to get to the North Territory to hunt buffalo.

The drive back to Sydney was a long one, and thankfully interrupted by stops at local gun stores where I was able to talk to the dealers about Ruger, Zeiss and Hornady. We got back to Sydney after dark Jerry and I were met at a hotel, close to the airport where met up with Dodge and his lady friend, Mel. From there we headed to a fabulous seafood restaurant, Doyle’s right on the water’s edge. Then it was off to bed. We had a very early flight from Sydney to eventually end up in Darwin. I fell asleep and dreamed of wide and massive horned buffalo…..
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Please watch Larry’s show, Trailing the Hunter’s Moon airing on the Sportsman Channel on Thursday at 4:00 pm, Friday at 7:30 am and Saturday at 9:30 am (eastern times).

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