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Errol Mason's Hunt Smart ® Training Course

Course Details

Who Attends

Course participants come with a wide variety of experience ranging from complete newcomers to those who have been unable to set eyes on a stag in 20 years of hunting. They include those who have successfully taken trophy stags but have had many lean years since. Some have been consistently successful but realise there is so much more to learn about this Magnificent Deer.

Why Hunters Attend

Students have explained that they can only absorb so much by reading but if a concept is explained in the bush they instantly grasp it. This is known as ‘kinesthetic learning’. Research shows that 70% of people learn much better by actually seeing something demonstrated and then doing it, rather than just reading about it. This is why hands-on training plays such an important role in education today, especially for trades people such as chippies, plumbers, sparkies and builders.

Two Days ‘Hands On’ in the Bush

Unlike the early days when I walked around the bush in a ‘fog’ occasionally getting a shot at a fleeing sambar, I now hunt using my ‘Hunt Smart’ system. This system is based upon a thorough understanding of sambar behaviour and comprises many key overlays. A thorough understanding and the correct application of each overlay is vital if you wish to become a consistently successful hunter.

Consistent with the principles of kinesthetic learning I guide students, step by step through actual hunting scenarios and on most courses we watch unalarmed sambar. I explain why they are there and the tactics I would use to harvest one.

Using their own bino’s - plus a large range of bino’s and a spotting scope which I provide - students glass faces where sambar have been seen, including trophy stags. I explain when is the best time to look, where to look, and what to look for. You will be shown key topographical features, including my VIP "Wagon Wheel" concept - the "road map" of sambar movement - and I explain when, why and how sambar use these features.

Course Syllabus

The course begins 1pm Friday in the bush with an explanation of topographical features and how sambar use them in various weather conditions. Food types and their location are also explained in the bush. An hour before dark there is a twilight optics comparison followed by dinner. From 7.00 to 10.30pm I deliver a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation.

Presentation Details:

  • Tracks & Faecal Pellets – Learn who left them, how to age them and how to determine the sex and size of their maker.
  • Tactics that work in various weather conditions and in various levels of hunting pressure/human activity.
  • Visit the exact spot where stags have been consistently harvested and learn why they were there and how they were hunted.
  • Learn how the sambars finely tuned sense of smell, hearing and vision is used to detect predators - including humans - and how to overcome them.
  • Wallows – their role in the mating & communication system, how to decide which one to ambush and how to do it successfully.
  • Where to find bedded stags & how to hunt them.
  • How to hunt from face to face.
  • How to hunt in close with tips based upon Sambar behaviour.
  • How to anticipate where Sambar are moving to and how to see them.
  • Funnels - What they are and how to exploit them.
  • Use my tripod mounted Swarovski 15X56 binos & tripod mounted Swarovski STX 95mm, 30-70 spotting scope you get to compare their Sambar finding capability with standard binos whilst searching for and observing sambar.
  • The many types of plants which Sambar eat, and when and where they eat them.
  • The Sambar's Circadian Rhythm – learn what Sambar do every 24hrs and the factors which cause them to change where they do it.
  • Zones of Silence – learn what they are, why they are essential to sambar and how to find them.
  • Learn the "Wagon Wheel" concept - the road map of sambar movement. Learn how sambar use the Hub, the Rim and the Spokes that link them. See Issue 4 of our magazine for a detailed explanation of this concept. It is available from our website as an Emag.
  • Learn where to find sambar in various weather conditions and why they are there.
  • Low Impact Hunting – what is it, how to do it, and why it's vital to understand.
  • From an hour before dark compare at least 12 scope and reticle combinations, including several illuminated versions and see for yourself the difference in low light.
  • A large range of binos are compared in the bush from first light on Saturday and Sunday morning whilst looking for deer.
  • The subject of suitable cartridges and projectiles for sambar is demystified.
  • Learn the aiming points that kill stags cleanly and why they are so deadly.

Twilight Optics Comparison – A Unique Opportunity

From about 1 hour before dark right up until dark you will be able to use and compare many brands/models of telescopic sights.

You are able to swap from one to the other and compare this large range of optics in the bush throughout the course. Nowhere else in Australia can you do this.

Remember, when you view optics through a gunshop window in broad daylight the light transmission performance of all optics is the same. It’s only during the first and last 20 minutes of daylight - when sambar move the most - that really separates the outstanding from the ordinary. On my course you will see for yourself the difference in performance between various brands, magnifications and objective lens diameter.

The following optics are provided for the Twilight Optics Comparison and for use in the bush throughout the course:

Binoculars: Swarovski EL 8 x 42 with Range Finder; Leica Gevovid 8 x 42 with Range Finder; Swarovski 10x32; Swarovski 12 x 50; Swarovski 15 x 56; Vixen Artes 8.5x45; Vixen Artes J 8x42 & 10x42.

Spotting scopes: Swarovski STX 30-70x95mm Digiscope/Spotting Scope.

Telescopic sights: Vixen LVF 1 - 6 x 24 illuminated; Zeiss Victory 2.5 - 10 x 50 illuminated; Vixen 2.5 - 10 x 50 illuminated; Vixen 2.5 - 15 x 50 illuminated; Swarovski Z6i 1.7 - 10 x 42 illuminated; Swarovski Z6i 2.5-15x56 BT; Vixen 2.5 - 10 x 56 illuminated.

Scope Reticles: include various versions of the duplex and German # 4.

Range Finder Binoculars: Swarovski EL 8 x 42; Leica Geovid 8 x 42.

Hand Held Range Finders: Leica 1600b.

Tripods: A range of full size and compact Manfrotto tripods and heads suitable for 15 x 56 binos, spotting scopes and cameras with telephotos lens are demonstrated on the course.

Tactics for Back Country & Farm Fringe Sambar

Tactics taught apply equally to farm fringe as well as those living deeper in the forest. The reason the same tactics work for those on the farm fringe as well as those in remote forest is simply because a sambar's basic genetic blueprint is identical, regardless of its location. As a result the sambar's 'Hierarchy of Needs' and how they use each 'Micro-habitat' is exactly the same.

Course Notes

Course notes are not provided but students are told what they should record. When purchased at the course each volume of our Secrets of the Sambar books (Vol 1, 2 and 3) are available for just $100. Back issues of our Secrets of the Sambar magazine purchased at the course are just $10 each.

Courses Are Tailored to Students Needs

Each course is tailored to meet the specific needs of each participant. By listening to each student’s experiences, I ascertain what each know and don’t know.

Venue

The training course is based on our rugged and picturesque 2km x1km mountain forest property north of Swifts Creek, Victoria. It is 1.25 hrs north of Bairnsdale, 1 hour north of Bruthen and 20 minutes south of Omeo. Bairnsdale is about 3 hours from the Monash Freeway Ringwood/Frankston Ring Road intersection in Melbourne's east. Swifts creek is about 4 hrs from Albury via Mt Hotham and the same via Mitta Mitta/Anglers Rest/Omeo.

Directions: Detailed directions from various locations are emailed to course participants.

We Provide

  • Two nights rustic accommodation in an insulated shed warmed by a large wood heater. Sleep on single steel beds with 6 inch high density foam mattresses with commercial grade covers.
  • Full bathroom, shower and toilet facilities;
  • Transport to the bush and back if required. Note: Most participants need to travel in their own 4WD vehicles; and
  • High quality meals include morning and afternoon tea, apples and snack bars, plus a variety of high quality heavy & light beer.

You Provide:

  • Sleeping bag and/or swag, pillow, towel, toiletries and change of clothes for evening;
  • Hunting clothes appropriate to the weather for the time of year. A cap, gloves and coat suitable for sitting glassing for several hours from first light in sub zero temperature are essential items. Include a piece of foam sleeping matt 30cm x 20cm for sitting on whilst glassing for long periods;
  • Daypack equipped as per the list of "Things to Bring" which is emailed to participants;
  • Binoculars for twilight comparison and use during the course. Note: Do not buy binoculars specifically for the course as you will have the opportunity to compare many during the course in low light whilst looking for deer. These conditions enable you to select the binocular that is perfect for you;
  • Large note book and pen for classroom and a smaller note book for the field. Tablets and Smart Phones may also be used for note taking but NOT for photographing the PowerPoint Slides.
  • Camera

Course Size

Each course is limited to 7 people.

Firearms

Bring your sambar rifle for set-up evaluation and optics twilight comparison.

NOTE: Rifles are secured in a safe after twilight comparison. They are not carried during the course.

Timetable and Activity Details

NOTE: Dawn & Dusk Vary With Course Dates

Friday

NOTE: if on mobile, please swipe the table to the left to see more information.
12.00 noon - 12:30pm  Arrive at our property near Swifts Creek. Directions will be emailed. Light refreshments - meet other participants and discuss experiences.
1pm sharp

Course Commences. In the bush Errol explains how food availability, weather conditions, hunting pressure/human activity and topographical features effect sambar, plus other key points such as the sambar's circadian (daily) rhythm and how it can be used to locate them.

He explains all the "Overlays" he has developed to pinpoint where the deer are going to be in the conditions and shows you how to apply each one. Education about "Overlays" is continued throughout the course so that by the end you clearly understand this VIP concept.

Errol shows you precisely how his "Wagon Wheel - Road Map to Sambar Movement" overlays the topography. Binoculars and spotting scopes are used throughout the first afternoon until the Twilight Rifle Scope Comparison about 45 minutes before dark.

4.30pm Twilight scope comparison until dark using participants rifles and scopes plus six rifles/scopes provided by Errol. Click here for Optics Provided.
6.00pm Refreshments, beer and finger food.
6.30pm Dinner.
7.30pm Continue PowerPoint Presentation including how to use Google Earth to enhance your hunting.
10.30pm Retire/shower etc...

Saturday

NOTE: if on mobile, please swipe the table to the left to see more information.
5am Rise & shower etc... Breakfast - Continental Style.
5-6am depending
on date
Travel to scenario arriving just before first light.
Dawn In bush at first light glassing for Sambar using participants binoculars plus Swarovski 30-70x90 STX spotting scope and two Swaro 15x56 binos on tripods, Swaro 12x50 plus many others provided on the course. Usually we see Sambar.
8.30am Participants practice tactics for hunting from face to face, using binoculars provided, range finders and shooting aids such as various bipods/shooting sticks. Discuss suitable cartridges, shot placement and correct rifle zeroing. We go through the correct process for "After the Shot". In close and other tactics are also explained.
12.00noon Lunch at property near Swifts Creek.
1.30pm Travel further into bush. Inspect feeding, staging areas and plant identification. Discuss effects of weather conditions & hunting pressure. Sign interpretation. Visit wallows. Hide location & construction, treestands, and other tactics such as low impact and hunting according to wind direction & air currents is explained. Visit various types of feeding & bedding areas including tree fern gullies. Plants from high to low preference examined. Effective tactics explained.
4.30pm Visit logging coup where sambar feed. Tactics, including how to use hides & treestands.
6.00pm Return to property near Swifts Creek for an assortment of beer and finger food around a large wood heater.
7.00pm Dinner.
7.30pm - 9:30pm Discussion on Sambar Behaviour and Backpacking.
9:30pm Showers etc...
10.30pm Lights Out. Sleep on property near Swifts Creek.

Sunday

NOTE: if on mobile, please swipe the table to the left to see more information.
5.00am Rise & shower etc... Continental Breakfast
5am - 7am depending
on date

At dawn glass for sambar on opposite face and in gully heads. Tuition on where to look, when to look and what to look for. I explain how food, water, weather conditions, wind direction, hunting pressure/human activity and topography effects face to face, in close and other hunting tactics. I point out various micro-habitats and discuss how, when and why sambar use them. Further sign interpretation including feeding and bedding areas, actual beds, rumination zones; wallows, tracks, pellets, rubs, scrapes etc...

You are shown a tree stand and a hide and various other types such as portable climbing tree stands are explained. You have the opportunity to sit in a 3.5m high ladder tree stand so the advantage of additional height becomes instantly apparent.

11am Return to accommodation for Light Refreshment.
11:30am Lecture on Trophy and Venison Care, Maps and Hunting Areas; Plus opportunity to purchase Secrets of the Sambar books for $100 each, Magazine Back Issues for $15 per issue and other Hunt Smart ® products.
3.00pm Course concludes.



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