Great story, before my trip to NZ I looked at a lot of videos from Ample your photos and the video are great. Wish I had that but my hunt was a little more down to earth.
Congratulations on several great trophies.
Sorry for the long delayed continuation of this report, I've been swamped at work.
After the successful fallow hunt, we took a well deserved break and slept in the next morning. Around 10am, we headed out to hunt feral sheep. My mother (67 years old) has never shot an animal. She has always shared stories of her grandfather in Germany and his work as a Förster (think park ranger). She also accompanied us to Africa last year and had an absolute blast. I talked to BJ and we decided to arrange for her to hunt a sheep!
The sheep all hang out in a couple of large groups along a big section of hillside. While they are easy to find, getting close enough for a shot is another story. As soon as they spot you, they'll start to move and you'll end up chasing them all day, never quite getting close enough for a shot.
We approached from the back side of a hill and scanned the herd for some good candidates. We located one that had a very nice coat (my mom was planning on a rug and euro mount) and great horns. We cautiously approached, using the spurs and draws of the hillside to cover our approach. Unfortunately, the sheep started to move- but then we got lucky and they stopped.
They were all milling about on the hillside, about 450 yds from us- too far for a shot. We needed to move closer. As we crept along the hillside, we made our way to a flat spot, about 250 yds from the sheep. At the same time, the sheep had decided to hunker down for a rest. Our guy was laying in the midst of a big group of friends- definitely no chance for a shot. And so, the long wait began.
After what seemed like hours and hours, but was probably more like 40 minutes, the sheep started getting up and moving about. Our guy stood and started walking with two other sheep. This whole time, my mom was very nervous, not wanting to mess up or take a bad shot and injure the animal or let us down. BJ did a great job of calming her down and getting her to just focus on the shot.
The three sheep continue to walk towards us and then stopped by a clump of bushes. My mom squeezed the trigger... The shot is good! The sheep fell over kicking and a few seconds later lay still. Pretty impressive for a lady of her age to be hiking up and down all these hills in pursuit of game- I'm definitely a proud son!
Once we got to the sheep, we see that he's a really trophy. His horns are big and long, with a distinctive white stripe running through them. The wool is in great condition too- we couldn't be happier. My mom also used this as a great opportunity for bragging rights over my Dad. He shot a zebra and a wildebeest in Africa- but both shots were less than 100 yards. He sheep was taken at 250!
Because it was still relatively early, we decided to circle around the backside of the hill and see if we could locate the other big group of sheep. After a bit of a hike, we crested the hill. We couldn't see any sheep, but I could smell them in the wind that blew up the hill and into our faces. We moved down a spur and spotted another group of about 50 sheep a ways down the hillside. My wife moved into position and took her shot at about 200 yards. Another sheep down and time to head in for a late lunch! 4 hours well spent!
After our day of successful sheep hunting, a storm hit and it poured rain. Not particularly keen on the idea of trekking through the rain, we decided to take it easy at the farmhouse. While flipping through old Safari magazines, I can across this gem of an ad:
What an amazing product!!! You will, without a doubt, be the coolest kid in camp when you show up with your very own Browpad. I particularly appreciate how they cater the ad to unsuspecting parents and grandparents- setting them up for complete failure when they buy one of these for the young hunter in their lives...
My First Sergeant is a passionate bow hunter and has convinced my wife to give it a try. While we can't have a bow while over here in Korea, we have plans to pick some up when we get back to the USA.
In the mean time, BJ is a passionate bow hunter and took the rainy weather as an opportunity to give my wife a beginner's lesson on archery! He has a covered range set up near the farm house and ran my wife through the basics. Needless to say, she's hooked!
And not a bad shot either!
The next day, we set out early for more sheep. Another beautiful day at Ample Hunting!
I found a nice one, with tight curls.
I particularly like all the battle damage- this guy was clearly a grump!
Since we were done hunting before lunch, after lunch BJ took us out and demonstrated how his cattle dogs work. There are two type- eye dogs and bark dogs. Eye dogs just use their presence to move sheep and cows. Bark dogs, on the other hand, do as their name implies and bark at them. The eye dogs are best if you are moving a smaller group and if you want to do so without making too much noise. The bark dogs get the job done faster, but the animals sometimes get panicked (so if you're pushing them through a small space, eye dogs are better). Their training is impressive- different whistle tones mean different things and they respond immediately. Very cool to see them in action.
As a final treat, we went out possum hunting in the late afternoon. There are outrageous amounts of possum all over NZ. They're a significant pest animal that threaten many of the indigenous birds. Interestingly, they are not like North American possums- these guys have very soft fur and fluffy tails. The New Zealanders actually mix their fur with wool to make garments and blankets and the like- I highly recommend buying some of these products while visiting NZ. Its soft like cashmere and very warm.
To hunt the possums, we borrowed a .22LR. BJ actually has a little lap dog named Maddie. While not useful for most types of hunting, she does a great job of finding possums in the trees. Here's one hiding out:
Just walking a short section of trees, we shot 4 of these buggers. There are actually significantly more possums in NZ than people!
What's funny is that for all the hunting my wife has done, all the trophies, she did not like shooting the possum. Something about their little human-like hands and their soft and fluffy hides just rubbed her the wrong way. She plans to stick to big game for now!
And so ended our hunting trip to New Zealand. BJ's property is beautiful and the game is certainly ample! The trophy quality is exceptional and you'll have a great time.
Of note, if you've managed to stick with me through this long report... 2018 is a particularly ideal year to book a hunt with BJ. He has the unique problem of having too many 400+ stags in his herd. Most of his clients have been booking gold medal stags (350-399) because his prices are so good. He has some absolute monster stags that we saw, just waiting for an interested hunter to show up! I'm a big fan of his pricing too- rather than charging for every increase of 10 or 20 points, he just has two categories- less than 400 and 400+. It keeps things simple and it means there's no need for angst over inches.
If anyone has questions about his operation, feel free to shoot me a PM.
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