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G’day! I’m Ben Salleras, I’m 35, and I live in Chinchilla in southern Queensland with my girlfriend Marcela and dog Bailey. By trade I’m an Environmental Engineer, and have specialised mostly in gas pipeline construction over my career, although have worked in civil construction, mining and operational gas assets. In my current role I’m working as a Construction Supervisor for land rehabilitation works, which has a fairly substantial environmental aspect to it. I also run a hunting booking agency called Silent Pursuits, through which I link people up with their dream hunts both here in Australia and all around the world, specialising in more ‘off the beaten track’ regions. My life very much revolves around hunting, I pack as much as I possibly can into each year, both here in Australia and overseas. I live for the thrill of travelling to faraway places, experiencing different cultures and environments, and hunting the species of the world that I’m obsessed with. On the flipside, I also love just as much sharing a campfire with my mates in the Australian bush chasing our various local species.
What inspired me to start hunting:
My father Peter was a very active bowhunter through the late 70s and into the 80s, when I was born in 1984 he was probably at the peak of his hunting exploits. He and his mates kicked off the infamous Tully Bowhunters club, and from the time I was born I was constantly surrounded by bowhunters and bowhunting. I was shooting toy bows from when I could walk, but got my first real bow when I was about 6 years old, a custom built Cliff Chew ‘Taipan’ longbow. I was hunting with Dad up in Cape York from that age and constantly from then on, and was really thrown into the thick of it early on looking back now. Hunting pigs up the Cape was pretty much the only hunting on the agenda in those days, deer were barely spoken about and wild goats were basically an exotic species you had to drive a long way to find. Far North Queensland has practically no small game (rabbits/hares/foxes) so pigs were basically it for me. I lived and breathed bowhunting throughout my primary and high school years, eventually gaining access by chance to a Chital Deer block in 1995, which was a major turning point. A few years later I transitioned to compound bow (which was unimaginable in my earlier years) and started diversifying in terms of species and places. I had a few quiet years in terms of hunting during my university days, but once I was finished with uni and into the workforce, the fire really started to reignite and since then I’ve been going pretty hard.
What I enjoy about the outdoors:
That feeling that I get when I’m in the bush, that tells me ‘this is what I was born to do’. It just feels so ‘right’ compared to any other single activity we do as humans in this modern world. Humans have been bowhunting for hundreds of thousands of years, it was literally only a few generations ago that the world began to change rapidly and bowhunting was no longer a necessity for survival. Our brains don’t change as quickly as the world has – it’s still very much inside us.
Favourite piece of clothing:
It’s difficult to pinpoint one particular item, but I’d have to say my Zeiss Victory SF 10x42 binoculars make the biggest difference day in day out in bush. Having quality optics at hand makes an incredible difference for almost any type of hunting, particularly in the mountains.
Advice for new hunters:
Specifically for bowhunting: Understand the importance of broadhead sharpness before you attempt to go hunting. Accuracy and sharp broadheads are the two most important factors one must be 100% sure of before attempting to hunt in my opinion. Do not walk into the bush unless you can easily shave the hairs off your arm with each and every broadhead, if you can’t, don’t go hunting. If you’re going to use re-sharpenable broadheads – learn how to do it! If you’re going to use replaceable blade style heads – make sure you replace blades (either with brand new blades or by properly resharpening used ones) after any kind of shot.
Best hunting experience:
It’s too hard to pinpoint my ‘best hunt’, but my favourite memory is my first kill. We were up near the tip of Cape York, I was hunting with legendary Aussie bowhunter Bill Hill and Dad. We’d seen bugger all pigs for the trip and had mostly focussed on the fishing. Late one afternoon we decided to check out a creek system. There was minimal sign of pigs, and hopes weren’t particularly high, when suddenly Dad spotted a mob of about 20 pigs in the grass ahead of us. I stalked in with the wind in my face, got in to about 10m from the closest mature pig, and pulled a great shot with my 30lb longbow. The sow spun around in circles, and before it could make a run for it I had another little timber arrow out of the quiver and fired, hitting her again with a great shot. She took off and I gave chase, she ran about 50m and piled up. I was so high on adrenalin and frothing at such unprecedented levels that I proceeded to empty my entire quiver into the very dead pig, and I can clearly remember Dad yelling “STOP, that’ll do!” as he approached the scene. To have Dad and Bill there with me for that ice-breaking moment was as good as it could possibly get.
Favourite Game Recipe:
I don’t know the recipe – but my favourite game recipe by far is fresh smoked salmon! Nothing beats it!