The thrill of the hunt

Dalke gets in her first hunt for the Extreme Huntress competition.

After proving her marksmanship abilities last week, Nikita Dalke experienced her first hunt in the second episode of Extreme Huntress that aired this past weekend.

Warning: Spoilers ahead. The episode is available for viewing on www.extremehuntress.com.

Dalke, a Kimberley resident, was the runner up in last week’s target challenge, barely getting beat out by South African Margaret Botha in the accuracy competition.

She is currently competing against five other women for the title of Extreme Huntress, which will be decided in a series of challenges that will be aired in 13 weekly episodes.

After the opening challenge last week, she got the chance to head out onto the ranch for her first hunt to demonstrate her skill.

The ladies were split up into two groups—three stayed at the ranch to film a segment where they responded to anti-hunting abuse, while three others completed a morning hunt.

The 777 ranch—a 25,000-plus acreage that features over 80 species of current and extinct animals—has a stringent management plan that dictates the what can be harvested, according to Dalke.

The three ladies were given a list of specific animals that were available for the hunt based on the ranch’s management plan and Dalke chose a Black Hawaiian sheep out of the selection.

“The ranch makes a pile of management animals that are available and then there’s a pile of trophy animals that we’re allowed as well,” Dalke said. “We were to take a management animal first and then we could go after a trophy animal.

“They had a stack of pictures that you could choose from, so I got to pick what animal to go after.”

Dalke has never hunted sheep before, but has gone after mountain goats in the East Kootenay region. However, some aspects of the hunt are the same, no matter how unfamiliar the environment is.

The ladies began at 5:30 a.m. and headed out in jeeps to specific areas of the ranch. Though the property covers thousands of acres, there are smaller enclosures in which to hunt.

Dalke was driven to a specific enclosure and given a briefing on the geography from one of the judges of the show.

“She [drew] a map in the dirt,” said Dalke. “It was just kind of to give me a layout of the area and what it was like, where there was food sources and water sources and what the terrain was like.

After that, she was on her own.

“They don’t give you any ideas or hints,” she added.

After the briefing, Dalke decided to check out the water source as her first course of action.

“When we got there, we had to sit down in the bush because there was a really nice whitetail buck just standing there, watching us,” she said. “When he turned around and left, the herd of sheep came up out of the water hole and went right past us at about 40 yards.”

The animals headed up into a forested area, and Dalke changed her position to try and cut them off.

“I decided to go around the forested area then come up through it, and try to find them,” she added. “I got lucky and they weren’t too far into the forest, but when we came up on them, they were just feeding and had no clue we were there.”

It was a fortuitous break for Dalke, but she was after one specific Black Hawaiian sheep, and needed to confirm it was in the herd.

“It wasn’t just a herd of black sheep, there were a few black sheep, there were a couple Corsican rams, a four-horned sheep,” said Dalke. “So it was a big mixture of different sheep and when they get scared, they all bunch together.

“So I got really lucky that they didn’t know we were there, because they just fed and they were relaxed.”

The area where the sheep were feeding was thick with underbrush, but Dalke had a small clearing 50 yards ahead for a shot, and needed the Black Hawaiian to walk past it.

“I only had one little pocket through all the brush that I could use and luckily, he walked right through there and I was able to get him,” Dalke said.

“It was a challenge. If he hadn’t had walked right where I was hoping he would, it would’ve been a lot more difficult. I would’ve ended up having to probably move and try a different setup or try to get closer.”

After making her shot, she tracked down the sheep to survey her handiwork. Since there are regulations preventing the meat to cross international boarders, it was locally donated, while she plans to have the sheep skull mounted European-style.

It was an older animal with a lot of tumours, with horns that were heavily broomed—meaning they had broken off instead of flaring out to the sides after making a full curl.

“A very cool-looking ram,” said Dalke. “A lot of character in his horns and his face.”

Next episode, Dalke will tape her segment where she responds to anti-hunting abuse, while the three who stayed at the ranch during Dalke’s hunt will get their turn.

The episode is available for viewing online and people can also send in their votes and support via email for Dalke at www.extremehuntress.com.

 

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