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1 Week Ago #1
A couple of Aussies in New Zealand
This is a quick hunting report from a trip a mate and I did last year in New Zealand. This was the hunt that gave me a taste of mountain hunting. I hope you enjoy.
It all started about five years ago with a discussion over a few beers around a fire after a day’s hunting in a State Forest in South Eastern Australia when Ben suggested that we should head to New Zealand for a crack at some southern hemisphere speed goats in the alps of the South Island. Life seemed to get in the way and it remained a bit of a pipe dream until late 2014 when we finally dropped the hammer on booking a Tahr and Chamois hunt for early May 2016. Planning, and a fitness regime, started in earnest in late 2015.
After a great two weeks travelling around the South Island with my family I waved them good bye and found myself sitting in the arrivals hall of the Christchurch airport waiting for Ben to make it through customs. A quick trip to Gun City to finalise a few last minute purchases before a relatively early night saw us on the road the next morning heading for our departure point for a few days east coast tahr hunting. The short flight in was uneventful but the size of the “mild, east coast hills” still had a couple of aussies wondering what they had got themselves in for.
Camp was quickly established before it was off for an afternoon hunting on one of the spurs that rose from the creek bed we were camped near. A solid climb saw us gain some height and had us glassing the surrounding peaks as we slowly worked our way around a ridgeline. A few nannies and kids were sighted at close quarters and a decision was made to work around the face to try and locate a bull. With the light starting to fade a mature bull was spotted and Ben stepped up and the ever reliable 25/06 had the first animal of the trip on the deck. A good solid bull with a mane that photos cannot do justice to.
By the time the caping was finished it was well and truly dark and we slowly made our way down off the tops the camp by torch light in what was an exhausting and exciting introduction to NZ hunting.
The next morning was overcast and cold and it wasn’t long before the rain set in and the tops were clouded in an impenetrable mist. The day was spent down lower with a few tahr sighted, including a small group that tried to sneak around behind us, but no shots were taken.
To be continued....
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1 Week Ago #2
As we arrived back at camp wet and cold we did score a consolation prize with Ben managing to bag a trophy New Zealand lion as it raided our food stash.
Day three was clear and cool and we made a beeline for the tops with a plan to work the ridges and basins for the day. A quick break at the summit of the first ridge revealed that we had gained 865 metres in altitude in only 2.3klms of walking but our guide Jim kept saying “this is some the easiest country you can hunt tahr in”!!! The next several hours saw us glassing and assessing a number of good bulls but wind changes, exposure and groups of vigilant nannies saw us unable to close the gap on them. I will admit I was starting to get a bit nervous as we were due to fly out early the next morning and I wanted to get an opportunity at a representative bull.
A decision was made and we commenced a stalk on a nice bull who was bedded down with a group of nannies on a bluff above a scree slope about 1500 metres away. We slowly closed the distance and I set up for a shot at 357 metres and proceeded to miss. Jim quickly dragged me to my feet and we headed off around the face to see if we could cut him off from the other side. I will admit that my lungs were burning and the leg muscles were a bit wobbly by the time we had worked our way between several groups of nannies to a place that we thought we could get another shot but the bull was nowhere to be seen. I was resigned to going home empty when a second bull was spotted below us amongst the rocks. He wasn’t a world beater but he would be a chance for me to open my NZ hunting account. A steep downhill shot did the business and I had my first international trophy on the ground. I was as happy as Larry and was even happier to take the quick way down to the creek via a nearby scree slope.
More to come...
1 Week Ago #3
Our chopper flight out was reasonably uneventful but a underslung cargo net gains a fair bit of momentum and can cause a bit of damage to gear when it collects some solid boulders in the creek bed. Luckily it was nothing terminal, other than a bottle of whisky, but Bens binos copped a flogging and my pack was totalled and I think Jim will struggle to get his gas bottle filled next time he tries.
Rain on the west coast and an AWOL pilot saw our flight into our chamois camp delayed by 36 hours but we managed to get in just before dark and land on what appeared to be the wettest and one of the most precarious camping spots a man ever pitched a tent on. Well at least it seemed that way to a couple of greenhorn aussies.
Early starts were the plan and glassing from various vantage points saw us spotting a number of chamois but no opportunities to get a shot on a good buck were presented.
Day three saw us climbing to the tops again in a strong south westerly to an area that we hadn’t visited yet. Finding a spot behind some rocks out of the wind we soon glassed a family group feeding across the face below us. Ben got set for the shot however they quickly dropped out of sight in to a slight gully. As he waited patiently in the freezing wind for about half an hour I continued to search for elusive group and was rewarded with a glimpse of them about 180 metres below us. A quick shot saw our first chamois on the deck and when a young one hung around a little too long I decided to take it as a meat animal for camp.
Still a bit left to go....
1 Week Ago #4
After a fruitless morning hunt the following day, Jim and I decided to climb to the ridgeline directly above camp and glass an area that we had yet to cover. The sun was doing a good job of putting us both to sleep when Jim spotted a lone chamois coming out of the bush about 900 metres below our vantage point. We watched him slowly work his way up towards the tops from his bedding position and closer to where we were positioned. He presented a broadside shot at about 200 metres and I was able to close the deal.
The end is nigh...
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1 Week Ago #5
Our final day dawned foggy and wet and our chopper ride out seemed unlikely. This was confirmed when the pilot tried to get us out early but couldn’t find us in the fog. He later told us he was on the ridgeline below camp, about 30 metres away, but couldn’t see us. The day drew on and the fog didn’t lift so at 3pm we set our tents back up and settled in knowing that the forecast was bad and that if we didn’t get off the range today we may well be there for the rest of the week.
After 8 days in the hills with Ben, this was not a particularly attractive option. Luckily the Gods of hunting smiled upon us and a small break in the clouds about 4:30pm saw the sounds of rotor blades echoing up the valley. It is possible to pack up an entire camp including tents in less than 3 minutes.
All in all it was an awesome experience and has only served to give me a mild taste of what NZ hunting has to offer. I will admit that there were several times when I cursed NZ, hills, hunting, Ben and anyone else I could think of for getting me involved in such a gong show but by the end of the trip I was already thinking about how I can get back there and give it another crack.
Spaniard Grass. It certainly gets you back on your feet quickly if use a combination of it and your twig and berries to stop an unintentional down hill descent
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1 Week Ago #6
Great story and great pics, thanks for sharing!Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_sldmtn_/
1 Week Ago #7
Well done James - great report. That's a cracker chamois. What did he measure?
1 Week Ago #8
Great pictures and story guys.
1 Week Ago #9
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1 Week Ago #10
Awesome adventure congratulations
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1 Week Ago #11
Thanks for sharing.
1 Week Ago #12
Nice work fellas!! Adding that hunt to the wish list.
1 Week Ago #13
Great story and pictures. Thanks for sharing!
1 Week Ago #14
Amazing hunt guys! Such a rugged and beautiful place, NZ is at the top of my dream sheet for sure.
1 Week Ago #15
Nice story and photos. You getting that lion mounted?
1 Week Ago #16
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6 Days Ago #17
Great story and pictures. I struggled a bit with an Aussie thesaurus but finally figured out the "stick and berries" part. I guess I'm a bit slow.
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4 Days Ago #18
Awesome story and pics guys! Would love to hunt there some day.
4 Days Ago #19
Great story. Thanks for taking us along.
New Zealand is amazing.
I was there a couple years ago and have been trying to find a way to get back there.