Hunting in New Zealand with a professionally registered guide prices and packages are mostly quoted in U.S dollars. Depending on the quality of the hunt pricing is typically based on a daily rate which will include a professional guide, meals, accommodation, transportation, local taxes, field preparation of trophies, transportation. And a trophy fee which is typically one set prices per trophy animal, or with the larger fair chase Estate Red Stags and Elk on class size based on inches of antler growth. Packages will typically be combined when hunters pursue 2 or more game animals, which work to be at a combined discounted rate.
New Zealand has been home to the Red Deer species since the the 1860`s with different liberations. Since that time this deer species has now become wide spread throughout both Islands. The second largest of the deer species the highest numbers are on the South Island, with differant blood lines from their liberation the Stags (males) antlers are a prized trophy by hunters as well as their meat. A mature Stag will have between 5-8 points on either side of his antlers in the wild, on the private Estates they can grow over 15 points per sized and commonly measured in the global S.C.I system, or Douglas score by local hunters. Due to the lack of game management in New Zealand the older and larger heads are found predominantly on private land due to no hunting season. The hinds (females) give birth to their calves from late October, with the mating season (roar) from March to April each year.
There are 7 different deer species in New Zealand which are Elk, Red Deer, Fallow Deer, Sika Deer, Sambar Deer, Rusa Deer, Whitetail Deer. Of these species the Sika, Sambar and Rusa deer species are only found in the central North Island, and the Whitetail in the lower part of the Southern Island. Elk, Red, and Fallow are on both Island, although all the species are more concentrated in certain areas than wide spread throughout the country. Deer can be found on both government and privately owned land though due to over hunting the larger populations are found on the private farms and stations where there is more of a management system in place.
Hunting in New Zealand there are two experiences that can be combined or preferred, this comes in the form of free range or on fair chase Estates. It is important firstly that hunters understand how the system works in new Zealand, with there being for the larger part no legal season. This has over many years heavily impacted on the quality of the game in particular the deer species on government land, with the heavy culling that took place up until the early 90’s. Taking out many of the older dominant deer and over hunting has resulted in trophy heads from lesser males breeding to now be missing points, thin main beams and with Fallow Bucks small palmation.
Government land has seen this more so than private land in recent times with hunters taking young animals, and hunting deer over those summer months putting pressure on those good feed areas deer need to grow an exceptional trophy head. This has resulted in the rise in private land areas including game Estates. Many of the larger farms or Stations particularly in the South Island that have these wild game animals on their properties now restrict hunting to only professional guides where they will pay a trophy fee per animal. This gives a game animal a very high value to a framers income and thus becomes a form of management. The animals then get a chance to not only have access to quality feed, but also grow a lot older without the constant hunting pressure as the typical guiding season for professional guides is from late February-August.
The Estates now have become the most popular for hunters, due to the management in place and exceptional deer genetics introduced into the hunting herds the males grow exceptionally larger antlers than that of the free range. Typically there is a 6ft boundary fence around the hunting area which contains most of these animals ensuring the quality of the herd, keeping out public hunters, and giving clients the option of looking over many high quality deer.
Arapawa Sheep originated from a fine-wooled breed of merino sheep from Europe.
Liberated onto Arapawa Island at the top of the South Island as food for returning whalers and sealers they soon adapted well to their surroundings.
The rams have the nickname “rasta ram” due to its long matted wool and huge 1 1/2 curl plus horns with heavy bases. These large curled horns make them an incredibly attractive and sought after trophy animal.
The alpine antelope of the Southern Alps, the agile and graceful chamois was originally from Europe and is one of the more challenging of New Zealand’s trophies to hunt successfully.
They are the largest sub species of chamois, with some of the most attractive markings of all our game animals, with equal size to that of a small border collie dog. Living in isolated family groups away from most other animals, the chamois is extremely agile with nimble feet and keen 10x eyesight…making for a truly challenging hunt and an extremely rewarding experience for those that love mountain hunting.
Chamois bucks start their rut early-May to mid-June, which is the prime hunting when the solitary Bucks will come into the resident nannies.
Himalayan Tahr are one of the most sought after alpine trophies in the world, with the mane of a lion, the strut of a grizzly bear…
The mountains are his domain.
Originally from the Himalayas in Nepal, they adapted well to the Southern Alps of New Zealand and now rank among as the main destination to hunt them.
Weighing up to 300 lbs the species is very different than most mountain animals in that the males are 3-4 times larger than the females. During the warmer months the Bulls are found solitary or in bachelor groups down low and in heavy cover only coming out to feed late in the evenings. Consistent with most game prime hunting and larger concentrated numbers are found on private land (Stations or ranches)as opposed to government land due to less hunting pressure from from foot hunters and helicopters they have become an asset to the farmer where very high fees will be paid from hunting Outfitters to have exclusive rights on these properties to hunt them. This then creates a management system on private land with good access due to the private mountain roads. Most hunting is on foot accessed by 4×4 or ATV in a natural free range environment, some hunting is also conducted on fenced estates or by using helicopter on government land to fly around locating the game. With no management on governments areas, this forces the animals to live in very steep inaccessible country that only the very fit can attempt, and the older mature animals become very flighty. These concentrated numbers are in the central South Islands, South Canterbury area in the vicinity of where they were first liberated in the Mt Cook national park.
The Bull Tahr rut is from late May to July and is the best time to hunt tahr in their long winter coats, but hunting usually starts from March through September. The quest for a trophy bull tahr is the highlight of the trip for many hunters from around the world that are looking for a traditional mountain type hunt.
Living in this type of country in the South Island alot of our hunting is in rolling-steeper country, and I get asked this during the season from clients that have not done alot of mountain type hunting. By the end of their Safari its really neat seeing how confident they become. Especially if we have time to do some long range ‘Wallaby whacking’.
So Setting up for the shot is important and taking time to find a suitable area to lay down and get it right. I find using bipods on the rifle with the pack underneath the forestock perfect for locking in both shooter and rifle.
It then comes down to ranging the animal for Bullet drop which most guides have in their binoculars, or the bow hunters hand held range finders that also calculate angle (very good).
If your planning on shooting over 300 yards you need a range finder, and if you really want to get it right heres the basics I use, I don`t claim to be an expert by any means but taking your time to make a good shot is very important and it works for me.
My Main Basic Rules
Is the client confident if we have the opportunity on a shot over 300 yards foremost, if not wait and get closer.
The gun has to be on, I like triggers to be pretty light (not hair pin) when distance shooting as it eliminates tendency to pull shots.
If its under both 300 yards and 30 deg either + or- theres very little change, lay down get steady and shoot.
If your not confident on making a clean kill don`t take the shot.
Theres typically always another opportunity.
If your Binoculars or Range Finders do not have an angle compensator like mine, I keep with me at all times my slope doper and chart.
When we find the animal we`re after the first thing I do before we lay down is work out is this the right spot, or can we get closer, whats the wind doing, whats the game that we haven`t seen doing?
Then it is how far, range it. Under 300 yards, get ready. Over 300 (does my client feel confident at 300+?). Ok now gravity is going to take an affect, this is where the slope doper is great. Typically I can judge 30 deg+- (you may be surprised just how steep this is). Then I get my chart out I made, it has angle VS deg and wind drift at the end. Basic but it has been working for the last 10+years with clients making some amazing well planned shots. If your shooting over 300 yards you do have time to do this, it takes me around 10 sec to work all this out max!
If your using the old school scopes which are great without the ballistic turrets, and you always have your phone on you theres an app called `Bulletdrop`. Its really good and I use it each time a client brings his rifle over at the target range. I enter his bullet ballistics while sighting in so I know the impact point at different ranges. In the heat of battle its good to have this for reassurance for both hunter and guide working as a team.
It may all sound like alot but when you get into the system for me its pretty good (as long as I don`t forget something then its back to old school ranging that still works).
As we come to the towards the end of April the Red Stag rut is slowing down, but the Fallow Bucks and Sika Stags are still calling and fighting – both being very vocal and aggressive for the dominance of the females.
The cooler temperatures bring all the game animals out of the heavy cover and hunting now continues through out the day.
May brings about the Chamois Bucks which will be rutting, and the big mature Bull Tahr really start moving towards the females and their rutting areas.
March brings the start of the main hunting season in the South Island of New Zealand.
As it starts to cool down in the evenings and mornings we are starting to same the game animals moving, with the red stags now getting ready to start the rut ‘the roar’ within the next 2 weeks.
As many animals are still down low in the south facing slopes away from the sun by the end of March both red stag, fallow bucks, and sika stags will be in full rut mode right through till the end of April.
An exciting time of the year for both clients and guides alike as we big trophy animals that are both never been seen before or growing just that much older and bigger from last season.
Straight shooting to all hunters out there this season.