On behalf of Australian Bowhunting Forum I recently had the opportunity of conducting a bowhunting review of a property that has opened its doors to paying bowhunters, campers and fishermen. The operation is called ‘Jackals Hide’ and is owned and operated by Rod Middleton on his 5000 acre property in northern NSW about 40 minutes north west of Tenterfield. The northern boundary of the property is the state line between NSW and Qld, and it is also Sundown National Parks southern boundary. It’s western neighbour is ’Mt Pleasant’ a property that is renowned in the area for its fallow deer hunting. Anyone who knows Sundown National Park and Mt Pleasant will probably be salivating by now at the prospects of hunting a property in such a choice location and let me assure you that this place definitely is a real gem for bowhunters and adventurers alike.
The view from the front gate.
The 5000 acre property is situated in Trap rock country and from the Northern boundary high on the rugged hills and mountains bordering Sundown National park, the land slopes down steep mountain faces and gullies to the beautiful Tenterfield creek below with its deep, clear pools and rugged gorges. At the western end of the creek are wide fertile creek flats with open grazing country and heading up stream the creek becomes more closed in by gorge type country and rugged mountains. Apart from the open flat areas to the west, around the house paddocks and along the creek, most of the terrain is steep and rugged. The vegetation goes from grass lands in the west to eucalypt forests and cypress regrowth covering the hills and mountains in the east.
There are 3 main camping areas set up at the moment and Rod is in the process of organising another. All four camp sites are sited on major water holes spread along the Tenterfield creek, and make idyllic settings to pitch a tent or roll out a swag. With great fishing just a stone’s throw in front of each camp site and great hunting in the surrounding hills, you’ll never want to leave this place. Rod really wants to make the hunting a sustainable operation at Jackals Hide and intends to keep it exclusively bowhunting for this reason. He has set up game cameras around the property to track game movements and provide security from poachers. Rod has also designated a bone yard area where all carcasses are dumped and this area can attract good numbers of pigs and foxes. There are also one way animal gates (set up by Nat Parks) leading into the property which will funnel animals from the national park helping to sustain and increase game numbers. With the sustainable management Rod is implementing and the assistance from visitors following the rules, Jackals Hide should remain a fantastic hunting and fishing destination long into the foreseeable future.
The Fishing at Jackals Hide can be magic at times with the many rocky holes producing big Murray Cod and Yellow Belly along with the ever present carp. Rod has a folder full of pictures of monster cod and yellas caught on the property and you could spend many hours flicking lures amongst the myriad of snags and rocks chasing the elusive big one. There is a strict catch and release policy at Jackals Hide with the hope that one day the truly monstrous murray cod of yesteryear will finally be seen again inhabiting the holes along the Tenterfield creek. Some of the bigger holes are perfect for fishing from a canoe or kayak and you are welcome to bring your own for a paddle. Rod also has a couple of Kayaks that can be hired out for a minimal charge.
There is excellent hunting available at Jackals Hide, with Fallow Deer and feral Goats being the main game animals in abundance, but there are also feral Pigs, dingoes/wild dogs, foxes, cats and rabbits in huntable numbers. I have had the pleasure of hunting Jackals Hide on two occasions, the first with my 13 year old son and the second with my friend Clinton Miller. On both occasions we sighted plenty of game including good numbers of Fallow Deer and a plentiful supply of Feral Goats.
Renowned Bowhunter, DVD producer and writer Wayne Preece is friends with Rod and has been advising him on how to set up the hunting operation at Jackals Hide. It was Wayne who through Antonio invited me to do the review for the website and my son and I accompanied him to the property for the first visit. Due to the weather and time constraints my son and I were not successful in taking any game on my first visit, but we did have some close encounters with deer and a lot of goats, seeing some big billies in the steep hills along the creek. On my return trip with Clinton Miller we hunted harder and had some good success seeing some very big trophy Billy Goats in the process.
There is a permanent herd of Fallow deer that reside on the property and I was informed that at certain times of the year mobs of 40+ fallow deer can be found grazing the flats and crops along the creek. During the rut this population of Does attracts a healthy following of good sized bucks which move in to claim some females. Rod said it gets hard to sleep some nights of the rut period, with the grunts of bucks reverberating around the hills.
On the last hunt in mid-January, Clint and I were constantly seeing Fallow deer along the creek flats and in one mornings hunt counted 25 separate does as we walked along only about a kilometre of the creek flats. We saw numerous old rub trees and scrapes from last year and even the early beginnings of a new scrape made by some eager buck. There are some very good game trails running through these areas which would make the ideal places to set up ambushes on the deer with the use of ground or tree stands at the right time of the day. March through April will be the prime time to hunt the bucks and you will have to get in quick to reserve a hunt as places are already filling up quickly.
There are plenty of feral goats living in the rugged mountains and hills that belong to Jackals Hide and on both occasions we spotted numerous mobs along the Tenterfield creek and it’s drainage slopes above. With only two days to hunt the many rugged mountains and gullies, Clint and I tried to cover as much ground as we could, but in reality we only hunted a fraction of what was available. We spent two afternoons hunting goats in the rugged ranges together and every mob we encountered had a trophy billy goat in residence. The first afternoon we saw a few billies in the mid 30 inch spread range and I had a great opportunity on a billy that would have gone high 30’s in spread. The Billy was feeding towards us in a mob with several other 30”+ billies and fed straight up to me only stopping at 7 meters. He was front on the whole way and I was waiting for him to turn but unfortunately I never got a shot off before he caught sight of me and took off with the mob following.
Only 20m further down the ridge we had another close encounter with some goats before a young boar entered the scene. Clint was able to move in to 20m from the boar and got a steeply angled downhill shot into him. The boar only ran 30m before succumbing to the pass through arrow and tumbled down the steep face to the creek 60m below. We took a few pictures and all of the meat before flicking a few lures in a deep hole on last light. It was a real highlight to get a boar in that steep terrain and both Clint and I were very satisfied with the afternoon.
The next day I was able to put a good double lung shot on the biggest billy out of a mob that I had been shadowing for a couple of hours and ended up with a nice representative of the species. A couple of hours later I was able to recover the billy with the use of Rod's kayaks.
Clint and I hunted some steep mountain slopes that afternoon up in the back country and saw some great looking billy goats. Every mob we saw had its compliment of big billies some in the mid 30 inch class and a few in the high 30s to 40 inch class. Clint had some very close stalks on good goats and came extremely close to arrowing the biggest billy we saw for the trip. The billy goat was at the very least 38-39 inches and may have topped 40 inches, with a nice double curl through his horns.
Just a couple of the many goats Clint stalked close to that afternoon. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of the big ones as we were too busy trying to arrow one.
Clint and I were both very impressed with the number and quality of the goats we saw at Jackals Hide and I have no doubt that there are a few billies getting around those mountains that would go over that magic 40 inch mark. In fact Wayne Preece who has hunted Jackals Hide quite a few times and has taken more 40+ inch goats than anyone else I know, has seen at least 5 goats on the property that would go over 40 inches in horn width. If you are after a set of big billy goat horns, then organise a hunt at Jackals Hide, there certainly are some big Billies getting around those hills.
This is the way Rod has set up the pricing structure at the moment:
$25 per camp/family, this includes fishing – catch and release
$35 per hunter per day
$40 per goat taken. Billies only unless other arrangements organised with Rod.
$100 per deer. Bucks only unless other arrangements organised with Rod.
All other game animals covered under daily hunting rate. This includes pigs, dingoes/wild dogs, foxes, cats and rabbits.
All native animals are protected under current legislation and cannot be hunted on Jackals Hide.
There is a closed season on Fallow deer in NSW from the 1st of November until 1/2 an hour before sunrise on the 1st of March and a NSW General Game Hunting Licence from the NSW Game Council is required to hunt Fallow deer on Private property in NSW.
Access to and around Jackals Hide is via well graded roads and while you can access the main road of the property and one of the camping sites via 2wd during dry weather, a 4wd is recommended to access the vast majority of the place and to ensure you can get back to the bitumen if it gets wet. For those who need to keep in contact with the outside world there is mobile phone access through Telstra in the higher and more open areas.
Jackals Hide truly is a sportsman’s paradise for the bowhunter and fisherman alike, but its great campsites in idyllic settings along the Tenterfield creek also make a great destination for a fun, family weekend away. At Jackals Hide a bowhunter can spend time with his wife and children in the great outdoors camping, fishing, swimming, canoeing and also sneak off for those early morning or late afternoon hunts after big billies, bucks and boars.
For bookings at Jackals Hide call Rod Middleton on 0416048277