So as a few of you know, I've recently had a few weeks hunting around New Zealand's South Island. I did all sorts so not really sure where to put this thread but the main hunt was Himalayan Tahr in the Southern Alps so I guess this 'Big Game' section is as good a place as any. In addition to the Tahr, I hunted pigs with dogs, shot duck on the opening day from a mai mai, fished for sea run trout, lamped various grass munching pests (possum, rabbit, hare) and generally experienced rural and wild New Zealand.
Firstly, I have to thank @Tyla for putting me in touch with Kurt, a local farmer/hunter based near Invercargil who essentially guided me on this adventure. We all have our moments on here but I do believe it pays not to be a bell end and Tyla putting me in touch with Kurt is another instance that really reinforces that to me.
So, Tahr!.... These big mountain goats were introduced to the South Islands Southern Alps back when we didn't know better, like much of NZ's large game, and without predators have done really quite well. They inhabit the snowy/rocky tops during the day coming down to the highest tussocks of vegetation on the mountain to feed a few hours before darkness blankets the valleys. They can be found feeding again in the morning before ascending back to the safety of their extremely treacherous alpine beds. Their natural predator in their native range is the Snow Leopard, but in NZ their only predator are hunters mad enough to go after them.
A dream hunt of mine for a few years has been a mountain hunt and Tahr is probably the cheapest one to do, mostly because the Department of Conservation (DoC) consider recreational hunting a primary tool in the control of this invasive species. Recreational hunting, for sustenance, sport or trophy is endorsed and pushed quite heavily by DoC. It's a bit of a cultural shock for a Pom to see such support for fieldsports by a Government. A Rocky Mountain Bighorn hunt in Montana on the other hand would probably cost ten times as much as an off the shelf guided Tahr hunt because they're not invasive and a load of people in the US want to hunt them. Going self guided, or as I did informally guided by a local works out cheaper still.
The original plan was for a week in the West Coast, dropped in and extracted from our allocated Tahr block by helicopter. Due to a number of reasons, weather being one, we made the call to knock this on the head and hit the East Coast (of the Alps, not the island), the Canterbury High Country. I'm not getting anymore specific than that as although we were hunting public land, kiwi's guard their hotspots! East Coast meant no helo in and that we might be sharing the country with other hunters....
So six hour drive north through the night, arriving at one in the morning to the first DoC cabin, sleeping bags out aaaaand f***ing dead.... Possums on the roof would occasionally wake me up but I was pretty much dead to the world until about 8am when I heard Kurt bringing me a coffee from the truck. We then pretty much had 10-15miles of fairly serious off-roading to as close to the head of the valley as we could get. Here's a few pics...
At this point we got our shit together, food for 2 nights on the tops, checked the rifle was shooting where it was pointed and had a late breakfast before our ascent to where we would camp. Now apparently the typical way hunters go after Tahr is to glass from the valley bottom, living in the relative comfort of a log fire heated DoC cabin and then 'shoot up' with light kit to a shooting position before darkness or before the Tahr ascend out of reach. The way Kurt likes to hunt them though is to pack in with tent and food to where the Tahr browse so you can hunt pretty much continually, rather than wasting time and worrying about light.