The weekend started on Thursday morning at 8am, where Stu, Owen, Jill and Eric loaded up the Hilux, and headed SOUTH! (South as in ice, snow, rain, hail and hopefully a bit of good hunting.)
The trip down was good, we circumnavigated the Mountains, heading on the Western side to avoid the dessert road, as it was we still found snow and sleet along the way. Stopping in Tiahapi for a lunch break. We arrived at our destination (Stu's brother in law) Jocks Place, somewhere out the back of beyond of Pahiatua.
Our first afternoon, once gear was sorted, saw us heading up the track behind the house for an early evening walk around. Owen and I had a very sucessful down hill stalk on what looked like a smallish black pig, only to discover at about 18yards that it had horns not tusks, a bit of a laugh followed, and we left it to finish its dinner, bigger and better things may have been lurking in the shadows down hill a bit more. We returned back to Jock's just on dark for dinner after having a good recky and sorted our plans for the following day.
We decided that a good time to head out the following day was 6am, the rain put paid to that, and at 8am we were up on the track again on quads fighting the wind and rain. Splitting into 2 groups we hunted bush gullies for deer or pigs. We found hail, rain and wind! We abandoned the bush at about 12ish to meet up with our guide Wayne for lunch back at the house to sort out the afternoons hunting.
As Owen and I came down the farm track a small black and white goat jumped onto the track, took one look at us then bolted. Not more than 20meters further on, I was lucky enough to spot another hiding from the rain and hail just off to one side of the track, after a little gear failure (an arrow came apart) and removal of sodden gloves, an arrow found its mark and dropped it. First kill for the hunt taken by Jill.
We visited 2 properties that afternoon, one for a recky to sort out boundries and hunting areas, and one for a hunt. The first property was a very large farm with big steep rolling hills, while we were there having a look see with the farm owner, deer were spotted mooching around in a clearing in the gorse about a kilometer away. The farmer had seen about 29 the day before. (a promising area for the following morning.)
The afternoon saw us splitting into 2 groups, with Wayne leading Eric, and Stu, and Owen and I stalking a small bush block.
Owen and I had an easy start to the hunt as it was hailing to hard to get out of the ute, once we set off the weather settled for about half an hour giving us enough time to cross the paddock and get started along the bush edge. There were plenty of clearings to work through and nice open high canopied bush, inbetween ponga stands (an amazing variety of colour) made for cosy bedding areas for deer, and then walls of stinging nettle with grassy clearings dotted through them, great little lunch boxes of food here and there. Unfortunately no deer were spotted, we did find good sign later in the hunt, and picked up an old antler (6 clean points). We were not far from exiting the bush block when we happened across 4 goats nibbling away in a clearing, stalking in was fairly easy as they were so intent on there food, 4 goats sucumbed to 4 well placed arrows, Jill another 1 and Owen a solid 3, we took the back straps off and headed home for a warm up and dinner about 6ish.
Our big deer stalk was to happen the following day. Wayne arrived at 6am as promised to guide us. Wayne was a great source of knowledge and sat down with us and prepared us with a carefully laid plan of attack.
We headed out into the cold, wet early morning full of hope. Eric was sent off up the first hill on the left of the farm, he had a couple of great stalks in, and saw around 15 deer, being let down by a nosey cattle beast startling his quarry over a fence just at the last second before drawing an arrow on him.
Owen was sent off up to the left over another hill, he saw 10-12 deer, and drew back twice, only to have his prey jump fence too.
Stu scouted a very steep hill and kept an eye on me, I was back tracking looking for my cramp on, I was whistled out to as stu had had a good look through the system I was going to attempt and saw it to be barren.
On returning to the valley floor, Waynes son scooted down the hill and directed me to a little basin not more than 400 meters from where I'd parked my bum, saying that him and Dad had spotted a few deer over there that was worth having a look at.
So I trudged over the wet floor of the valley, and saw across a fence line in a little basin what looked like 4 broken stumped trees. A few meters forward, and I realised they weren't tree stumps they were deer arses! A quick scramble over a barbed wire fence, put me within 60 yards of 5 grazeing hinds. I counted 4 bums facing me, great, a stalk was on, I poked my face out to check to the right and came face to face with a yearling hind. My inexperience with deer came to the for about here. On hindsight, I should have ranged it and taken the shot, I decided to try to get a bit closer or above them to secure a safe no miss shot. I did pull the camera out and take a few shots prior to heading up the ridge above them. About half way up I heard the tell tale warning bark, and guessed they'd scarpered.
I slid back down the ridge, happy with my effort and rewarded myself with the new knowledge I'd gained from this situation, and cool photo's to boot.
We all met up from our various stalks at this point, everyone had come into contact with deer, Owen seeing about 15, Eric, 10-12, and Stu and Wayne 20ish. Myself with 5. A great recky for the next visit.
We headed back to Jock's at about 10ish and had a great cook up for brunch, a bit of a sit around, and then some target practice between Owen and Eric on a magpie 75yards up the hill. (It got away)
We headed out again that afternoon on quads across the road to the other half of Jock's place, this drive netted Eric with 2 goats, and Jill with a whole new apreciation for Quad bikes, clay tracks and good driving skills from Owen (thanks Owen for keeping me safe!)
The trip home was even more fun than the trip down, we made a small detour to the wind farm, an amazingly alien place. and quite frightening as we parked under one of the huge mills turning surprisingly fast. We all got slightly wind swept, took a couple of photos and raced for the warmth of the truck.....
Upon stopping in Waiouru for a cuppa and toilet break, we found the dessert road closed, another trip round the mountain was required to reach Taupo for a small passenger pick up. Snow fall was evident and I decided that we had to have at least one wee play in it before reaching Taupo.
I pulled into the first safe car park by a viaduct and jumped out, a few patches of snow were there, but the rest of my travelling companions decided to stay warm, laughing at me from the inside of the truck. A little further down the road we came into a reasonable dump (6-8 Inches) that just had to be played in. The snow ball fight was fun. See below for the link to a short snow ball fight.
The weather wasn't fantastic, cold, icy, wet and windy. The trip was fantastic and any day hunting is better than any day at work.
Thanks to our fantastic host, and guide's, we all came away happy and rewarded with great hunting oppourtunities.
Click here for trip photos....
Click here for the Pahiatua stuffing recipie.....
Click here for short snow ball fight....