Errol Mason's Hunt Smart ® Training Course
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 these Big Brown 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.
Three Days ‘Hands On’ in the Bush
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 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.
Training Course Syllabus
Evolution and General Behaviour
Learn why sambar do this and don't do that. Why they fear this and not that. Why they are inquisitive of this and not that. Why you will find them here and not there. Everything they do and don't do is driven by their evolution.
Because these are shown to you in the bush they are very easy to identify and understand.
Finding A Top Area
You will be shown top areas and I point out the features which make it so, especially the plants sambar prefer. You get to identify and examine many of them.
Learn how to access mini-hubs via a low impact route. Learn when they are used, how to hunt them and improve them, plus what you should never do.
Tracks & Faecal Pellets – Learn how to determine the sex and size of their maker and how to age them. Learn how to follow up sambar by applying "overlays" in conjunction with my "sight n go" technique, a Safari Sling and binoculars. You are shown 4 hooves taken from a spiker, 4-year-old, 8-year-old, and a 12-year-old.
Weather, Response to
Learn where to find sambar in a range of temperatures from -10C to 35+C and in any weather from a breeze to cyclonic wind; from mist to pouring rain and from frost to hot weather. Click here to go to "Weather, Response to" in the Index in "Take a Look Inside" our new book, "The Hunt Smart System ®."
Learn how hunting pressure and human activity effects sambar behaviour and how to identify the hunting pressure in an area. I teach you how to hunt in a way that your impact is as close to zero as humanly possible.
Visit the exact spot where stags have been harvested and learn why they were there and how they were hunted.
The Sensory System
Learn how the sambars finely tuned sense of smell, hearing and vision is used to detect predators - including humans - and how to overcome these senses.
Learn the role that sex pheromones and wallows play in the mating system and how to decide which one you should ambush, and when and how to do it successfully.
Where to find bedded sambar and how to hunt them.
Face to Face
How to hunt from face to face. Using tripod mounted Swarovski 15X56 binos and a spotting scope you get to compare them to standard binoculars whilst searching for and observing sambar.
North, South, East and West Facing Gully Heads
Learn why sambar use gullies which face in different directions in different weather conditions.
Hunting in Close
Learn how to hunt in-close. Learn how, when and where to build hides. You are given the opportunity to sit in a 3.5m high aluminium ladder tree stand.
Learn how to successfully hunt sambar by walking-them-up, a method which typically stacks the odds in the deer's favour unless you understand their behaviour and move accordingly.
Learn how to anticipate where a Sambar you have spotted is moving to, the route it is most likely to take and how to intercept it.
Learn how sambar use funnels such as saddles, stream and fence crossings and how to exploit them.
Learn what Sambar do every 24hrs and the factors which cause them to change where they do it.
Zones of Silence
Zones of Silence – learn what they are, how to find them and why sambar are drawn to them.
The "Wagon Wheel" - Road Map of Sambar Movement
Learn the "Wagon Wheel" concept including how sambar use the Hub, the Rim and the Spokes that link them.
Low Impact Hunting
Low Impact Hunting – what is it, how to do it, and why it's vital to understand.
Learn how and when sambar use this unique habitat and how to hunt it.
This subject is discussed with a particular focus on safety equipment and safety issues.
The equipment necessary for adequate trophy care is covered. The best times to go, and how to pack light is discussed.
Compare Binos in Low Light
Binos are compared in the bush from first light on Saturday and Sunday morning whilst looking for deer.
Cartridges and Projectiles
The subject of suitable cartridges and projectiles for sambar is demystified.
Aiming Points and How Bullets Kill
Learn the aiming points that kill sambar including big stags, quickly and humanely. Also learn how bullets actually kill and which ones I recommend for sambar.
In the context of shot placement and bullet performance, you examine the skeleton of a fully mature 12 year-old stag. Skeleton includes front and rear hooves, ribs, cervical, thoracic and lumber vertebrae, both shoulder blades (scapula) and humerus.
Learn the aspects of mature stag behaviour which makes them vulnerable and how to exploit them.
Taking the Shot
Learn everything that you should do before taking a shot and how to set up correctly for it.
After the Shot
Learn what to do and what not to do after you have taken the shot.
During late afternoon until dark you will be able to compare several brands of binoculars.
You are able to swap from one to the other and compare them throughout the course. When you compare optics through a gunshop window in daylight the light transmission is similar. It’s only during the first and last 20 minutes of light - when sambar move the most - that you can see the difference between the outstanding, the excellent and the optically challenged.
The following optics are provided for optics comparison and for use throughout the course:
Binoculars: Swarovski RF 8 x 42; EL 10x32 and SLC 15 x 56; Vixen Artes J 8x42 & 10x42.
Telescopic sights: Vixen 2.5 - 10 x 56 illuminated;
Range Finder Binoculars: Swarovski EL 8 x 42.
Hand Held Range Finder: Vixen Forester 1200
Spotting scope: Vixen Geoma 11 ED 67-S
Tripods: Tripods suitable for 15 x 56 binos, spotting scopes and cameras equipped 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 habitat is exactly the same.
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 Trilogy (Vol 1, 2 and 3) are available for just $100 per volume. Our NEW book "The Hunt Smart System" which retails for $199 is available at the course for $160.00.
Courses Are Tailored to Students Needs
Each course is tailored to meet the specific needs of each participant. In particular this includes the special requirements of Bow Hunters.
The training course is based on a rugged and picturesque 2km x 1km 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.
- Camping area in a secure location on private property.
- 3m x 3m Gazebo with 3 sides
- Toilets - long drop.
- Campfire, hotplate and a Weber Baby Q.
- Your own camping gear, food and water, toiletries and change of clothes for evening at the local hotel
- Your own 4WD vehicle
- Hunting clothes suitable for winter. A cap, gloves and coat suitable for sitting glassing for several hours from first light in sub zero temperature are essential.
- Daypack equipped as per the list of "Things to Bring" which is emailed to participants
- Binoculars - but do not buy binos specifically for the course as you will be able to compare several in low light. That will help you select the bino that is perfect for you;
- Notebook and pen for taking notes
- Camera, spotting scope etc
Accommodation (if required)
If you do not want to camp, comfortable cabin accommodation is available just 8km from the course.
Accommodation will be available at the "Miners Cottages" near Swifts Creek from 1st July. The Miners Cottages (2 bedroom) are 8km from our block. Ph Sandy at Omeo Caravan Park to book on (03) 5159 1351 or email email@example.com.
They currently manage the Omeo Caravan Park so contact them also for 1 and 2 bedroom cabins at the Omeo Caravan Park if that is preferable.
Omeo is 22km to our block and the Miners Cottages are 8km from the training course property.
Swifts Creek Accommodation Services also has accommodation in Swifts Creek 12km from the training course property. Ph 0488 594 888
Each course is limited to 7 people.
Firearms and Ammunition
If you wish you may bring your sambar rifle for set-up evaluation. Ammunition is not permitted to be carried on the course. Rifles and ammunition must be legally secured in your vehicle.
NOTE: Rifles are not carried during the course.
Ammunition is not permitted to be carried on the course. Rifles and ammunition must be legally secured in your vehicle.
Timetable and Activity Details
NOTE: Dawn & Dusk Vary With Course Dates
NOTE: if on mobile, please swipe the table to the left to see more information.
|12.00 noon - 12:30pm||Arrive at campsite on private property near Swifts Creek. Set up camp.|
I demonstrate how to use binos, spotting scopes and tripods which are used throughout the course.
In the bush using 15x56 binos and a spotting scope, I show participants the "must know" topographical features and explain how each drives "The Wagon Wheel - Road Map of Sambar Movement." Plus I show you how to overlay The Wagon Wheel on the landscape you are looking at.
Using a compass I show what aspects are "north facing, south facing, west and east facing.
I explain why it's vital to know your area. I explain the most useful features of Google Earth and how to apply them.
I show you how to apply "Overlays" on the landscape to pinpoint where the deer are going to be in the conditions. "Overlays" are used to locate travel routes to bedding areas and to pinpoint bedding areas.
In order of preference I explain what plants sambar eat, when they eat them and why they prefer it.
Instructions about the "Wagon Wheel", "Overlays" & "Aspects" are repeated throughout the course so that by the end you will understand these VIP concepts.
|5:30pm||Dark. In bush tuition completed for the day.|
|6:30pm||Discussion about Sambar and Q & A during dinner at a local hotel OR around our campfire.|
|9pm||Discussion completed. Return to camp if at a local hotel.|
|9:30pm||Retire. Sleep on private property.|
NOTE: if on mobile, please swipe the table to the left to see more information.
|5:30am||Rise & Breakfast|
|6:45am||Walk to Observation Post (OP) in dry sclerophyll forest at 450m elevation. Forest varies between semi-open and dense. I explain my preferred places to hunt at dawn and the best tactics for harvesting a deer. Arrive OP at first light.|
Glass for Sambar using participants' binoculars plus 15x56 and other binos and Vixen Geoma 11 ED 67-S spotting scope. Observe unalarmed Sambar, and later discuss behaviour observed, in particular tactics you would use to harvest one.
See first hand how temperature determines where sambar will be and won't be and how thermals work in different weather conditions.
Learn why it's vital to keep your scent from the deer, and how to use wind direction and thermals to achieve this.
Learn why you should never shoot at a moving sambar and how to make them stop.
Whilst overlaying "The Wagon Wheel - Road Map of Sambar Movement" - I explain why the deer were where they were, rather than in the countless other spots they could have been in that huge gully system.
Discuss tactics for hunting from face to face, using binoculars, a spotting scope and shooting aids such as a rangefinder and a bipod.
I explain how to obtain the flattest trajectory from cartridges and correct shot placement.
We inspect sambar tracks where I explain what sex and size of deer left them and how old they are. I show you which track was made by the front, the rear, the right and the left hoof.
Visit trail cameras and learn why they are in that location and discuss desirable features including anti-theft and thief identification technology.
Learn how to identify a low impact route to a mini hub or other OP and why you should always approach and depart your OP via a low impact route.
I explain why the route we took to get to this OP at dawn was low impact, and I point out other high impact routes we could have taken.
"In-close" tactics including sound, movement and scent minimisation or even better, elimination for Bow Hunters is explained.
The best treestand locations are identified so that where you set up at the most likely spot and are broadside to a deer.
Scent control is vitally important so how to achieve this is explained in detail. You examine a scent proof box and discuss its many advantages. Climb into a 3.5m high ladder aluminium treestand and see the advantages it provides. Suitability of portable climbing tree stands is explained.
Visit sambar beds in various locations and learn when each is used. Also learn how to identify which beds are used by sambar and not kangaroos or wallabies.
Learn how sambar respond to 'roos and wallabies and various bird calls.
Go through the step by step process to be adopted "After the Shot".
I demonstrate how to apply my "sight n go" technique to determine where sambar have gone to bed and the route they have taken to get there. In respect of this I show you where you need to be and the route you should take to get there.
|12:00 Noon||Lunch at campsite. Campfire, wood and gas barbecue provided. A cafe and bakery is 12km away. Discuss camping gear used by other participants.|
We drive to a wet sclerophyll forest at 850m elevation. It's much higher rainfall and denser forest requires specialised tactics.
I explain the most effective tactics for this habitat which is much more difficult to hunt than lower rainfall, and in places, much more open dry sclerophyll habitat. Visit several feeding & bedding areas plus north, south, east and west facing aspects, the importance of each is explained.
You will be shown what looks like a likely feeding area but actually is not, but close by I will show you a frequently used late afternoon feeding area and how to hunt it.
I will show you where "The Stormy Weather Stag" was harvested and explain the research and tactics that were applied. See SOTS Vol 1 and The HSS.
|5:30pm||Return to camp.|
|6:30pm - 9:00pm||Dinner at camp or local hotel. Campfire, wood and gas barbecue provided. Discussion about Sambar behaviour, backpacking and Q & A during dinner.|
|9:00pm||Return to camp if at a local hotel.|
|9.30pm||Retire. Sleep on private property.|
NOTE: if on mobile, please swipe the table to the left to see more information.
|5.30am||Rise & Breakfast|
At dawn using low impact tactics walk to an OP. Glass for sambar and then climb a steep spur in dry sclerophyll semi-open habitat, then glass a gully for sambar which are seen on most courses.
I explain the overlays to apply so you can pinpoint the deer. I point out various micro-habitats and discuss how, when and why sambar use them.
Whilst teaching how to correctly set up for a shot I explain bedded sambar behaviour which you must understand.
Each of the sambar's senses are explained from weakest to strongest and I explain how to negate each.
I demonstrate why a Fox 40 Sonik Blast whistle works every time, plus I demonstrate other methods of making sambar reveal themselves.
Whilst standing on a saddle I explain its importance and explain why some saddles draw sambar like a magnet but others do not.
I show bowhunters and rifle hunters when, where and how they should set up for a shot, plus much more. "In-close" tactics including sound, movement and scent minimisation or even better, elimination for Bow Hunters is explained.
The best treestand locations are identified so that when you set up you are always broadside to the deer.
Further sign interpretation including feeding and bedding areas, freshly used beds with fresh tracks, fresh pellets and urine patches around them.
|10:30am||Further identification of food plants plus other instruction whilst descending to camp for morning tea.|
Walk to another location on property. Inspect game trails for tracks and sign interpretation, inspect beds in staging areas and learn why they are there, inspect feeding areas and plant identification. Plants from high to low preference are identified and examined.
Discuss effects of weather conditions & hunting pressure.
Learn where to locate and how to construct a ground hide or treestand overlooking a feeding area. Learn how to set up correctly for a sit and wait.
Learn how to have low impact and how to hunt according to wind direction & air currents (thermals).
You use a rangefinder to determine ballistic distance as compared to the measured distance. The effect of inclination and declination on bullet trajectory is explained. You simulate shooting off a bipod in various positions at various distances, compared to shooting offhand and sitting positions without a bipod. Cartridge trajectory, scope magnification and light transmission, brightness and reticle choice is discussed.
You handle a rifle fitted with a "Safari Sling" and I explain why it makes all others obsolete for sambar and other deer hunting.
I explain all the issues that must be taken into account when attempting to follow up tracks and I demonstrate the way to do this so that you optimise the possibility of success.
We visit a wallow and identify the features which tell you it's worth ambushing, and the features which tell you it's a waste of time.
Learn why mature stags select a particular wallow.
Learn how and when to approach a wallow and when and where to sit if ambushing it.
Drive to a nearby location where, once again I overlay the Wagon Wheel on the landscape and show you the Hub, Spokes and the Wagon Wheel Rim. I show you where the Wagon Wheel Rim (WWR) continues to wrap around the landscape and the key topographical features which drive it.
Drive nearby where I show you why a particular spot is a preferred crossing point on a creek or river and I show you how to set up for a shot.
Different species of food plants are identified and I explain when they eat them and when they don't.
1pm. Opportunity to purchase Secrets of the Sambar Vol 1, 2 and 3 for $100 each and the complete course reference, "The Hunt Smart System ®" for $160. These are available to course participants at heavily discounted prices when paid for and collected at the course. Otherwise, normal website pricing applies.
The following "must have" Hunt Smart ® products are also available for purchase at the course. They include: Crooked Horn Bino Harness ($55); Spudz Lens cleaning cloths $10, Safari Slings $65 (camo or black), plus Safari Sling swivels ($25); Scout B62 Bipods ($90) and Fox 40 Sonik Blast Whistles $25. Vixen optics are also available at discounted prices to course participants. See website for details of all our products. Credit card facilities are not available at the course so cash only please.
|1.00pm||Course concludes. Lunch can be prepared at the campsite or purchased in Swifts Creek (12km), Omeo (22km) or Bruthen (1 hour).|
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