New Zealand DIY Public Land Red Stag and Tahr Hunt

@SCliving Outdoors has put more animals in the dirt than CWD. Would love for Uncle Randy to have him on a podcast and hear how he manages so many hunting adventures while working a 9-5.
I work 7-3:30. I work extra to get extra time off. For example we are really busy during Christmas bc of a Christmas light event. I have 126hrs in the last 2 weeks. A lot of guys don't want to work extra and I don't have if I don't want to, but I want to work extra so I can take time off to hunt and fish.
 
Thank you for the information. Just starting the planning on a trip to NZ, really interested in tahr and chamois. Would be my first international trip so thank you for the bits of information. Also congratulations on what looks to be a epic successful hunt.
 
Barry’s sister lives in the town close to the tahr area we were going to hunt so we repacked our bags and crashed at her house. We were at the heli hanger at daylight and up into the mountains we went. 15 minutes in the helicopter and we were at 6k’ setting up base camp in a big bowl surrounded by ridges. Welcome to tahr country. Steep brittle rocks. No trees. Minimal vegetation. Scree slopes. All the good stuff. We took our time setting up camp. Around 10am camp was good to go so we headed out. We climbed up to a saddle and down the back side to glass for a while. Around 12 we were eating some lunch when Barry saw a couple nannies and a kid down below us (Just FYI - Males are bulls. Females are nannys. Young are kids. I don’t make the rules 🤷‍♂️.) We continued to glass and eventually Barry picked up a couple bulls in the distance one of which was a good bull. The bulls were just starting to rut so most nanny groups had a bull with them. We watched them for a while to make sure we had a good idea of what they were doing then we headed out to make our move on the best bull.

The bull was a ways off so we just took our time moving slowly across the rocks and sidehilling our way to him. We made sure to look into every valley and little hole that we couldn’t see because the tahr will hole up and sometimes you wouldn’t see them until you were on top of them. When we were about 700 yards away from the bull we came around a corner allowing us to see up a valley that we couldn’t see into previously. Mark was in the lead and he immediately ducked down and told us to back up. There was a group of tahr in the valley that we hadn’t seen and they hadn’t seen us. As we peaked back around the corner to look again we saw 10-12 tahr total mostly nannies and kids, but there was one juvenile bull and one big bull. I ranged the big bull and he was only 220yds away. I laid down, took a breath and squeezed the trigger. The gun recoiled and I had my first bull tahr. A big mature bull with a beautiful full mane. Just what I came for. I was ecstatic. As we began to take pictures the fog rolled in. If we’d been just 15 minutes later we wouldn’t have even seen him.

The hike back to camp sucked. Definitely type 2 fun. A steep climb up a scree slope to a saddle that would allow us to get back to the tents. We arrived right at dark. A great ending to the first day of tahr hunting.

My goal for the tahr hunt was to kill 2 nice tahr. NZ has no predators. Shooting multiple animals is encouraged. Barry and Mark have a bunch of tahr rugs all over their house, but I wanted a couple shoulder mounts for my trophy room.

Day 2 we climbed up to a different saddle that would allow us to glass the same area we saw the original target bull, but from a different angle. We found a couple groups of nannies and multiple bulls. We set our sights on a big bull with a full blonde mane. He was in a great location feeding while keeping an eye on his girls. We were going to kill him if he didn’t move. He moved… Here’s what happened. The vast majority of NZ guided tahr hunting takes place from a helicopter. This is completely legal and this is how it’s done. The client is take up into the mountains and dropped off in a valley or bowl with a good view. The heli pilot then flies around until he finds a good bull and chases it with the helicopter by the hunter. The hunter shoots the bull and if he misses it the pilot just chases the bull back the other way. You get the idea. They then pick up the hunter and the bull take it to a pretty spot for pics if that location isn’t good and fly down the mountain. This whole thing takes 2-3hrs and they can do multiple clients per day. These hunts take place in the morning.

The big old bulls learn to survive by taking off into the steep nasty rocks high up and hiding in caves or crags and not moving until the heli has passed. This is how they survive. That’s what happened to us. We were watching the big bull then we heard the helicopter. Then we saw the helicopter. As soon as we heard it that bull started moving. We went to the nastiest rocks around and over the top. Gone from my life, haha. After a few minutes all that were visible were the nannies. The couple bulls had disappeared.

We began to move towards the direction the bulls disappeared aiming for a saddle that would allow us a visual on the backside of the peak where we hoped to see a bull when he thought it was safe. As we approached the saddle a bull appeared in the rocks. I almost got a shot at him, but by the time I was on him he was in an unrecoverable location then over the top he went.

We sat in the saddle for a bit glassing and only seeing nannies. Mark and I decided we’d work our way down on the back of the saddle trying to get to an area about 400yds away that would allow us to see around a corner back into a valley. Barry would stay and watch the other of the ridge incase we pushed one out. Mark and I worked our way along the base of the steep rocks 500’ above us. We were about 70 yds from the spot we were aiming for when I looked up and saw tahr looking down on us from the skyline. We immediately dropped behind some rocks. 4 nannies and a good bull. We needed him to move a little and as soon as he did I hit him squarely in the chest (frontal shot) he bucked hard came down the mountain a little and stopped. I hammered him again and down down he tumbled. It was 11am and we had another good bull on the ground. Another beautiful mature bull will a full mane.

We were back to camp by 4pm. The bad weather rolled in after that. Rain and bad wind moved in at dark, but not before glassing 2 big bulls on the ridge above the tent rutting hard. One was the biggest bull of the trip with an amazing blonde mane. It was cool to see. The weather kept us huddled under a tarp for dinner and in the tent after we ate. Wind kept us off the mountain the next morning. I had time to work on my capes (skinning, fleshing, turning, salting).

The next 1.5 days we hunted for the big boy. I passed multiple small bulls and we saw some other tahr, but I had my mind set on the giant old blonde bull we’d glassed from camps. On the final morning we got within 460 yards of him but he wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to get a shot.

Im now on a plane landing in Auckland. The turbulence has been a bit more exciting than I’d like, but we made it. Next flight is the big one across the pond to Houston. The hunt was great, but Im ready to be home and see my wife. I plan to head back to Middle Earth in 2025.

My wife and I leave for Alaska for spring bear in 2 weeks. That hunt will be a lot of fun I think.

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Great photos and sounds like an awesome trip!
 
Gastro Gnome - Eat Better Wherever

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