After my first Wallaby hunt, where I ended up finishing unsuccessful, I was eager to return to my friends’ property and shoot a wallaby for myself. My need to shoot a wallaby wasn’t due to any bloodthirsty urge, it was due to my wish to have the capacity to procure my own source of meat. Learning the skills of hunting wallaby would provide me with the self confidence that I am able to provide for my family. The knowledge, skill and experience of procuring wild meat is part of a great foundation of being self sufficient.
Part of the problem with my last effort of hunting was my rifle. It is a great rifle, yet I was hunting with iron sights, on a dark and wet night. After discussing it with my more experienced friend, I agreed that I would try out his .22 rifle which had a scope. We also decided to try stalking the Wallaby on foot, rather than via tractor. So we sorted out the rifle (just me checking out the scope, working out the bolt action and safety, etc), the large torch, and discussed which route we would take.
Shortly after leaving his home my friend spotted the first wallaby. It was around 30 metres from where we were standing. My friend shined the spotlight on the animal which caused it to stay still (as it is blinded in the night) and I started to take aim. My friend quietly told me to use his shoulder as a rest in order to steady my shot. I quickly moved to his left side I asked if he was sure, and he said of course. I suspect that this is a usual position for experienced hunters who are in the field. I loaded the first round, rested my hand holding the rifle on his shoulder and sighted down the scope so that the cross hairs were right on the wallaby’s brain. I moved my finger to touch the trigger and took a breath. As I exhaled, I started to squeeze the trigger, keeping the cross hair right on the back of the animal’s head (as it was looking to the right). It felt like seconds, yet it was much less, when the trigger was squeezed sufficiently to fire the round. I saw it hit the wallaby right in the head and it dropped dead instantly. While I am reluctant to take a life, I felt a sense of jubilation at having successfully taken a wallaby. This was a great achievement for me and proved that I could do this.
We walked over to the animal to ensure it was dead, as well as check it’s gender. Female wallabies can carry young, which need to be dealt with. Fortunately, this one was a male. We checked that it was dead before moving on to hunt for more.
We walked for a couple of minutes before we located another wallaby. My friend spotted it first and once more offered me his shoulder. I decided that I would try without his aid, so I loaded a round, took a balanced stance, and took aim at the wallaby. Without the aid of my friend to stablise me, the cross hairs were not steady and I had trouble keeping it on target. I aimed at the brain section, and started to squeeze the trigger. As I squeezed I believe I moved the cross hairs to the right and my shot went right in front of it’s nose. It hopped away and I was at least grateful my missed shot didn’t injure the animal.
We continued on our walk, seeing a few wallabies, yet they quickly ran from our approach. My guide advised me that the wallabies are so used to vehicles that they will not spook when you approach in a car (or tractor), yet they do not trust humans on foot. As we were walking, more of them fled from us than our previous hunt. Eventually my friend spotted a very large wallaby, yet it was some distance (maybe 100metres). He decided to take a shot (which I appreciated… I doubt I could have taken the shot with my lack of experience). He took aim and fired, yet his shot was a little high. He has sighted in his rifle for short range hunting. To compensate for the extra range he aimed high, yet it just missed the animal. We checked for any sign of blood, yet we were confident the round missed.
We returned to the house with the single wallaby. He was a small, young, one. My friend explained that it would be very tender, due to it’s age. As I had not skinned a wallaby, I was shown the procedure, and I think I can emulate it (although, it will take me a while to skin a wallaby at the speed of my friend. It took him 3-5 minutes to do the whole thing). I ended up with around 3 kilos of wallaby, and a whole wallaby skin for me to try to tan.
The skin was salted when I returned home that night, then washed (to remove the blood and tissue) and salted again. I hope that if the tanning process goes well I might be able to fashion some moccasins, yet that is something for another day.