NEW ZEALAND: My New Zealand Hunt

gillettehunter

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I'm a bit late getting this written up. Better late than never I guess.
About 1 year ago my wife said, I'd like to go to a photo class in New
Zealand. Would you like to go hunting there? Nice when they twist your
arm to go hunting!

full



Then the research started. In my mind I really wanted to shoot a VERY
good red stag. Everything else was secondary. My research showed that
would mean an estate animal ( high fence). I soon realized that the
kind of red stag I really wanted was out of my price range. So you try
to get the best you can for the money available. I am not going to discuss
the issue of high fenced hunting. From what I saw in New Zealand,
it was completely fair chase and I had a lot of fun.
I found a couple of referrals for Peter Chamberlin of Kiwi Wilderness Safaris. I looked up
his web site and the prices were very reasonable. So I sent a e-mail
asking questions. As we went back and forth it appeared that there was
a chance to take a gold medal plus animal for a gold medal price. SCI
gold medal red stag is 350-400. Peter told me he took several in the
410-415 class each year for the same price. I then asked if there was
ever a chance for a 430-450 animal. He said yes but it could cost a bit
more depending on where we were hunting. I sent a deposit for a 5 day
hunt for Red Stag and Tahr.
Normally I do one big hunt every 3 or so years. I had already planned a
Marco Polo hunt to Kyrgyzstan in Feb and this would follow a couple of
months later. A bit of a strain on the budget, but workable this time.
Especially since my wife paid the air fare! The hunt was scheduled for
the end of April through the first of May.
About a month before I left I got a e-mail from Peter. Seems he had seen
a 450 plus red stag with at least 24 points. It would cost only $2000
more than a gold medal animal. I had first right of refusal as I had
asked first about a larger animal. I didn't hesitate and told him that
was the one I wanted to hunt for.
I arrived at Christchurch in the afternoon to a steady rain. It had
rained the day before and was forecast to rain the next day. Peter
picked me up and we headed to his place about 2 hours away.
Peter has a great setup for visiting hunters. Adjacent to his house are
2 rooms that can be rented or used for visiting hunters. 2 beds,
microwave and TV. Very handy. He told me to meet him at 7 for breakfast
and then we'd go hunting. The farm we were hunting was only about 30 minutes away from Peter's
house. Peter has a cabin there to use. Nice hunting cabin. Couple of
bedrooms, kitchen, living room with a fireplace. When we were almost to
the cabin we saw our first red stags. One stag and 3 or so females. It
looked like he had 7-8 points to a side and would be a nice trophy next
year.
It rained all day so we hunted very little. We hauled and cut some wood
for the cabin. In the afternoon I shot his rifle. Peter had told me it
was not difficult to bring my rifle, but that he had several that I
could choose from at no charge. My wife thought it would be easier to
not have a rifle to travel with so I elected to use his. Peter used to
work for what was then the largest gun seller in NZ. He has Remington's
with Leuopold scopes on them.
I used his 7mm mag with 140 gr bullets. In spite of the rain we took it
out to sight it in. It was fine and the trigger was good for me. I also
shot his 22-250 so I was familiar with it.
That evening we went out to see what we might find. The high Fence area
covered about 2 square miles with several large patches of timber. Lots of
"thorn brush" that was 6 feet and more tall.
There were 2 large valleys and 2 good sized hills. In other words there was
plenty of places for the animals to hide where we couldn't see them.
Peter showed me several places where animals were coming and going from
the preserve. We drove up a hill to look across the valley to the other
side and see what might be out. With the rain it was a slow evening
with few animals sighted. The mud was bad enough that Peter chained up
to get us back down safely.
As a result of my trip to Kyrgyzstan 2 months earlier my knees had not been
well. Exercising a month before I was to go I had felt something give
way in my left knee.... So my exercising had suffered a lot. My knee
didn't feel so great either. This was to become more of a problem the
next day.
Day 2 dawned clear and looked like a great hunting day. We drove to the
cabin and had breakfast and headed back to the hunting preserve. We
stopped near the gate to the preserve. We then proceeded to climb a
steep hill to look into one of the valleys. I slipped and twisted my
knee on the way up in the wet grass and mud. We could see a number of
red deer and fallow deer from our position, but no shooters.
Going down
the hill, I slipped 2 more times and by then my knee was a mess. We
crossed the fence and walk down a 2 lane track that goes across the
bottom the preserve. Actually Peter walked. I hobbled....
About 1/2 mile in we came across a chocolate colored fallow deer bedded
on the side of the road perhaps 150 yds away. Peter told me I could
shoot him if I wanted him. I asked about the trophy fee. He said it was
a bronze medal type of cull animal and the cost would only be $500.
Knowing our stag could be close I declined for the time being.
As the road started to climb at the head of the valley we hit a
switchback. Climbing (hobbling) further I looked to my right and saw a
set of antlers above the thorn brush. They looked huge to me and I was
sure it was our stag. He moved away as I tried to get Peter where he
could see. Peter is perhaps 5 ft 4 in and was in a hole and never got a
glimpse. The stag was heading away from us to our right. Peter hurried
me back to the switchback corner which gave us a great view of the upper
valley. I told Peter that I was sure that this was a shooter stag. He
had me kneel down with a set of shooting sticks on the front and his
pack under my arm at the rear. His pack has a rigid internal frame and
it is made for a very steady rest. The stag came out at a trot. Peter
said to wait for him to stop. I followed him in the scope as he put some
distance between us he finally stopped at the edge of some thorn brush
about 275 yards away. He was partially screened by the brush , but I was ready
to shoot. I tried a shot at what I could see. He jumped and angled back
somewhat towards us. I reloaded and took a shot at him moving. There was a
solid thwack and he turned downhill. I worked the bolt and Peter said I
think he is done for. The stag went down about 250 yards away.
When we got to the stag I couldn't believe how big he was. The mass on
his horns is incredible. On his left side the palmation is 10 inches
wide! 31 or 32 points depending on how small you count them. He is a
magnificent stag and green scored 529 SCI. He is huge.
Peter said that he was the biggest that they have taken there.
We pulled him out that afternoon and got him all caped out. My knee was
swollen and painful. I iced it that night to see if that would help.
All I had with me as a pain medication was alieve which wasn't going to
do enough. The next day Peter worked some on the cape and made
arrangements for us to hunt for a Tahr on a farm about 4 hrs away. We
left mid-morning and stopped by a pharmacy on the way. I picked up a
kneed wrap and some additional pain medication. It was a nice drive to
the area we were to hunt. NZ is a little different on bridges than what
we are. Most of the bridges that we crossed had only one lane.
Depending on who had the light we often to to wait to cross a bridge.
Saves on costs, I guess.
We arrived at the ranch mid afternoon and went to talk to the manager.
He told us there were 2 good sized herds of Tahr. The ranch is cattle
fenced, but the Tahr come and go as they please. These Tahr are lower
down than most, but still live on a steep hillside. He has a resident
herd on the ranch all of the time. The rut was just getting a good
start. Because of the rut a number of bulls were down out of the high
country to breed with the resident nannies. We went to have a look.
These herds are simply a loose knit breeding groups. Perhaps 20-40
nannies and 10-20 bulls fighting for breeding rights. Tahr are
difficult to judge horn size. A look at Peter looking at Tahr.
The long neck hair is also considered
an important part of the trophy. This mane reminds you of a lion in some
respects. We spent perhaps 2 hours looking at the first herd. There were
several mature bulls and I thought we would shoot one of them. I was a
little puzzled when we drove away to see the second herd.
With the second herd we took a walk over to the edge of a very steep
ravine. We could see a good number of tahr from our vantage point. We
watched a larger bull push a younger bull towards us. The bigger one
got to perhaps 300 yards and saw or smelled us and headed back into the
bush. The younger one stayed at under 250 yards for quite some time. I
later learned that we were simply scouting for which herd had the best
bulls to hunt on the next day as well as resting my knee..... I thought
we had seen perhaps 75-90 tahr that day.
The next morning we headed back to the second hillside. You can see some of the cliffs here.
We spent the next 1-2 hours looking at tahr through the spotting scope. Peter picked
a primary and a secondary animal that we wanted to hunt. We then headed
out to the hillside to get in range. This hillside is very steep with
some cliffs up to 50 feet high. Didn't look bad from the side......
When we headed over most of the tahr had gone into the bush to bed. An
hour later as we got to where they had been we started seeing tahr. A
cloud cover moved in and they came out to feed some more.
This turned into one of my best hunting days of my life. We spent 3 1/2
to 4 hours with tahr all around us. One time I stood up slowly and
counted 8 tahr within 75 yards of us. We would move slowly until we
attracted attention and then stop for 20 minutes while they settled
down. Hear is a good Tahr. We got right in the middle of this herd of tahr. One young bull
got curious about us. He was 4 1/2 yrs old and came up to perhaps 15-18
yards. He spent 15 minutes looking us over. I finally threw a small rock
and hit him trying to get him to leave us alone!
We finally located the bull that Peter had chosen for me to shoot. Got
the shooting sticks out and set up with his pack. The bull was perhaps
250 yards away and was not at a good angle. He was with a hot nanny and
was staying tight with her. All of a sudden I felt the wind shift and
blow towards the bull we wanted. He smelled us and headed out right
away.... Peter said he was one of the back country bulls that had been
hunted before. About a hour later we spotted what may of been the same bull following his
nanny perhaps 450 yards away. So away we went through the thorn brush to
close the distance. We spooked several tahr and had to pick our way down
the hill very carefully. We closed the distance to about 250 yards and
the bull disappeared again into the brush. We eased out to a point and
waited to see what would happen. 10 minutes later the nanny came out and
Peter said the bull would follow. When he came out Peter had me wait to
shoot until he verified that this was the right bull. When he gave me
the green light I squeezed the trigger and dropped him in his tracks
with a high shoulder shot. Good thing I did. He was just 5 feet from a
drop off that that could of taken him 100 yards or more down the hill. Horn
breakage can be a problem in a case like that.
He is an absolutely beautiful bull Tahr. His mane is exceptional. His
horns are over 12 inches to a side. Truly a great trophy. As we caped
him out we had a audience of 21 tahr watching us from up the hill. I
worked up several blisters going down the hill..........
We drove back to Peters home that evening and made a plan for the last
day. I was interested in a fallow deer at the cull price. Peter said
there were 3-4 bronze medal type of animals in the sanctuary. The last
morning we were unable to find one of them. That evening we could see a
lot of fallow does, but no horns. It was like they knew to stay in the
brush. Then with less than 20 minutes of shooting light Peter found one
of them! He was way down the hill. Bad place for a hunter with bad
knees and blistered feet. Away we went. Got down the hill to about 350
yards. Peter said this was about our best position to get a shot. I laid
down prone to shoot at a fairly steep downhill angle. I missed my first
shot. Breeze may of pushed it a little.
I dropped him with my second as he stayed around too long and gave me a second chance. He is not huge,
but is my first fallow deer ever. Nice representative trophy. Note the thorns!
The next day I flew to Queenstown to spend a couple of days touring with my wife.
We had a good time and gave my feet a chance to heal up. Got back to the states and
had Arthoscopic surgery on my knee. Its doing a lot better and I should be in decent shape for hunting this fall.
Peter had my capes and horns all ready to go when I was. He does a great
job and I had no troubles bringing them through customs at LAX.
If you want a great hunt in NZ then you should contact Peter. He does a lot
wilderness hunts. Sometimes they drive up the streams to get up high.
Other hunts they get dropped off by a helicopter and spend a week
hunting from a tent. I couldn't find anyone with good references that
was any cheaper. He doesn't charge enough for the quality of his hunts.
He has a daily rate of $400. Trophy fees were $2500 for a silver medal red stag.
$5000 for a gold medal. Tahr is $2500 trophy fee.
If you are considering going to NZ then you need to at least talk to
Peter. Despite bad knees I had a great time and enjoyed myself. I also
got some of my best trophies ever. Thanks Peter.
 
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jeffpg

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Ok, I'm ready to go!

I have a weak internet connection here in Africa and can't see your pics, but that may be for the best as I am already wanting to book with this guy!

Great write up Bruce and it sounds like you found a good outfitter there as well. I will definitely be looking into this trip!

Thanks for sharing buddy,
Jeff
 

gillettehunter

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I thought I had pics up. Will have to try and fix it tomorrow....great trip. Bruce
 

enysse

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Thanks for the excellent hunt report, I'm glad you got some great trophies!
 

ROCKET

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What a good Hunt you did Bruce.......I am eating my nails because I cannot see the pics I dont know wy......!!!!!!

Thanks for the great report.......!!!!!!
 

gillettehunter

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Area where we hunted the red stag
watermark.php


Red stag in AM light
watermark.php


PM light
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Packing head and cape out
watermark.php


Tahr down low
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Peter looking at Tahr
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Hillside where we hunted the Tahr. Note the cliffs.
watermark.php


Bull Tahr. Note how long and blonde the mane is
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Tahr watching us cape mine.
watermark.php


Will get a pic up of my Fallow later. Work to do.... Bruce
 
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Nyati

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That was a fantastic hunt, with great trophies, congrats.
 

gillettehunter

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My Fallow deer. Nice bronze medal type of animal.
watermark.php
 
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ROCKET

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Yeeesss......we got the pictures.......no wards for the red stag.....magnificen........yes is a very good price for that deer for sure.....!!!!!......all the trophis are very good........thanks for the pics Bruce......!!!!!!!
 

BRICKBURN

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Congrats Bruce.
Nice trophies and you survived, with a little surgery.
Thanks.
 

Royal27

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I always wondered what an elk crossbreed with a moose would look like. Now I know!

Wow...
 

Lenny13

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This is incredible! Thank you for sharing. It looks like beautiful country and a couple of fantastic trophies!
 

bluey

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Very cool trophies,bruce
Other than buggering your knee,which sounds like ,you punched through and kept on going on.
Nice write up , and pictures mate
Thanks once again for sharing your trip with us ,cobber
 

Wheels

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Congratulations on the great trophies. Glad the hunt went well and you were successful even with the bum knee.

Thanks for the report and photos.

All the best.
 

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