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Date: April 24 - May 4, 2011
Outfitter: Telford Fishing and Hunting Services
Guides: Duncan Stewart and Gerald Telford
Location: Wanaka New Zealand, South Island
Species Taken: Red Stag, Arapowa Ram, Chamois, Fallow Buck, Tahr x2, tasmanian bush possum, hare, rabbits, Merriam's turkey x2

In our search for a New Zealand outfit that offered free-range/fair chase opportunities for tahr, chamois, red stag, Arapowa Ram, and fallow deer, the names Gerald and Sue Telford kept coming up and after spending some time with them in Reno at the SCI convention, we decided they were a good fit for a hunt we were planning to New Zealand. We booked a hunt that would catch the tail end of the red stag roar, the heart of the fallow deer rut and the beginning of the chamois rut plus a time when tahr would be sporting prime coats. We wanted to hunt totally on foot and outside of high fences and Gerald assured us we could have a reasonable expectation of taking all of our game, if we were in good shape. We booked 10 days to ensure we had plenty of time to do everything we wanted.

Getting to New Zealand was pretty simple with a direct flight from Vancouver, BC to Auckland where we caught a flight to Queenstown where Gerald met us. Getting our rifle into New Zealand was a breeze and after taking a day to check out Wanaka and shake off a bit of jet lag, we were off hunting. Gerald had other clients in another area for the first two days so he paired us up with Duncan Stewart, a young but very enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide.

We spent the first day climbing some fairly rough country in search of an Arapowa ram for Vanessa but we were unable to locate a ram to her liking so with a couple hours in the day left, Duncan suggested we check out a drainage where they'd seen a big stag on a couple of occasions. They had been hunting him hard but had not yet connected. We climbed up a steep slope and as we peered over a berm, there were several red deer peacefully eating in a meadow. These were the first red deer I'd ever seen but the one stag looked huge and he had the classic crowns on his dark black antlers that I so badly wanted. Duncan confirmed that it was indeed an exceptional stag and the one that had eluded them so far that season. At just over 200 yards it was an easy shot for the 270WSM and at the report of the shot, the big stag fell dead on the spot. As there was little time left in the day, we quickly got to him and I couldn't have been happier. Despite cramping legs, I happily packed the antlers back to the truck below.




The following day were were up early and Duncan suggested we go look for a chamois. We drove up a steep mountain road for the better part of an hour where we were dropped off by one of the ranch hands. There were several long idges that extended from the ridge we were on and Duncan suggest we walk a few of them out with the hope of finding a good chamois. We spotted a number of females and young ones below us in some treacherous cliffs and there were several more across the valley, including a couple good bucks. We snuck down the slope and ended up spooking a couple unseen young chamois. As they started to run, they caught the attention of a big buck on the far side and he came running over to our side to check them out. The laser rangefinder read 165 yards and when Duncan gave me the okay, I put the crosshairs on the buck and squeezed the trigger. I was shocked to see the bullet hit just over the back of the buck. I had rushed the shot. It was a long walk back to the truck with my tail tucked firmly between my legs. It was late in the afternoon when we got back to the truck and Duncan suggest we go quickly check out a spot for an Arapowa ram. Apparently, several rams had been coming out of the thick stuff in the high country trying to get in with the domestic sheep below.

As we walked out on to a point on a ridge, a big black ram, catching our scent, exploded from the valley below. He finally stopped. The rangefinder read a bit over 500 yards. We scurried down the ridge in an attempt to gain a few yards. The ram was climbing higher but our plan was working. We stopped at 379 yards and Vanessa got down on the bipod and placed the 350 yard crosshair a bit high on the ram. An audible thud echoed across the valley and the ram slowly lost his footing and them tumbled several hundred yards down the slope. She had made a perfect shot. It was the end to another full day in New Zealand.



Gerald took over guiding duties the next day and he suggested we take things a bit easier and go look for a fallow buck. He'd seen a good one on a deep drainage a few times but had been unable to connect with it yet. We were in position just before first light and as the morning began to dawn, I spotted a small buck right in the bottom. With the fallow deer in full rut, Gerald figured there had to be others nearby. Soon he spotted a group of hinds. As the small buck moved up toward them, a huge buck emerged from the ferns and put the run on the smaller one. Vanessa settled into position and waited for the big buck to return. He soon did and she placed a perfect shot into his heart at just over 300 yards.





That afternoon we glassed for chamois in a deep gorge and managed to put a good buck to bed. We were up early the next day and did a long hike into the area we'd seen the buck but he wasn't anywhere to be found but Gerald located another group on the opposite side of the valley. There was a really good buck in the group so we made our way down the slope. We got to the same elevation as the chamois and the range finder read 412 yards. I found a fairly comfortable position to shoot from and when the buck stood broadside, I placed the 400 yard crosshair on him and squeezed. He appeared hit but didn't go down so I took two more shots and the buck disappeared in the manuka. We were sure he was hit hard.

It took nearly an hour to get across the valley and steep cliff face but we finally made it to where the chamois had last been standing. I was relieved to find a drop of blood and a few minutes later we found the big buck piled up in the trees. All three shots had hit him. I really had no idea just what an incredible trophy that chamois were before leaving for New Zealand but I'd now rate them at the top of the list for no other reason than how difficult they are to hunt.




The following day we slept in a bit and then drove three hours to tahr camp. We were hunting a huge sheep station where the mountains rose thousands of feet out of the valley floor. After settling in to the sheep sheers quarters, we climbed part way up one of the mountains to glass. We saw several good tahr including one really big bull with a magnificent coat. Vanessa dubbed him "puffy" and he was our plan for the following morning.

We quickly located the group of tahr the following morning and Gerald scoped out a route of attack. It took us about three hours to make the 2,000 ascent. The group of bulls had disappeared over a rise and as we were making our way across the slope, I caught some movement above us. Through the binos, there was no mistaking "puffy". Gerald threw his pack down on a rock and Vanessa got down behind the rifle. At just over 330 yards, Vanessa placed the bullet perfectly and the big bull slid down a rock drainage, very dead.




It was close to one in the afternoon when we got back to the truck and after a quick bite to eat, Gerald suggested we head out and see if we could put another bull to bed on an adjacent mountain. We climbed up about 500 feet in elevation and glassed for a while and then another 500. It was getting close to dark when Gerald spotted a huge bull above us. We'd have to gain several hundred yards and about another 500 feet of elevation but we all took off at a brisk pace. As we topped a small rise the bull whistled and started moving up the hill. He'd caught our scent. I hit the ground and found him in the scope just as he turned to look at us. I placed a 140 grain bullet square in his chest. He turned out to be a huge 12.5" trophy. It was well after dark when we got back to the truck but two tahr in one day on two different mountains was unbelievable. We all slept very soundly that night.


We drove back to Wanka the following day and just kind of took it easy for the day.

The following day, Sue, a pilot, took us on a flight in her plane to Milford Sound. I still can't believe how rugged and beautiful the west coast of the South Island is.



The following day, Gerald took us out for a little long-range rabbit shooting and then that night we did a spotlighting run for possums. Now that was fun!



Gerald taught us how to skin possums the next day and then took us turkey hunting for the afternoon. Vanessa shot two big toms and we enjoyed a great meal of wild turkey that night.



After that we did a tour on Lake Wanaka and kicked around town for a couple days before flying home. The hunt was totally seamless without the slightest hiccup. Sue and Gerald are the most gracious hosts and Gerald is a hunter in the truest sense. Now to figure out how to get back!
 
Posts: 1857 | Location: Alberta, Canada | Registered: 27 February 2008Reply With Quote
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What a great report, sounds like you guys picked the right outfitter. I am leaving next July for my hunt and will be doing a free range hunt as well then a trip to Australia. Thanks for sharing and getting me excited for my own trip.


Thanks!

Brian Clark

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Posts: 1013 | Location: Nebraska | Registered: 30 August 2010Reply With Quote
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Wow! Awesome adventure! New Zealand is definitely towards the top of my list!


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Posts: 260 | Location: SE South Dakota | Registered: 20 April 2009Reply With Quote
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Excellent report and great photos. That sounds like you had really good hunt with a reputable outfitter. Congratulations on a great experience...you have re-whetted my appetite for a New Zealand hunt.


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Posts: 941 | Location: Southeastern PA, USA | Registered: 14 February 2001Reply With Quote
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Dear Sheephunterab

I need to borrow some of your luck.

Have not got that much after 6 hunts.

Well done Mark
 
Posts: 376 | Location: Australia | Registered: 22 June 2010Reply With Quote
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Sheephunterab,

I'm still as impressed as when I saw this hunt on CGN. You've got me thinking maybe the next trip should be to NZ instead of Africa. Well done!

Dean


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Posts: 876 | Location: Halkirk Ab | Registered: 11 January 2005Reply With Quote
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Ya, I've still got a couple African hunts in me too maki but we really wanted to do New Zealand free range and on foot and I knew that meant doing it sooner than later. I'm not getting any younger. Africa will still be there and still be huntable for me in 10 years. Not sure how many more years of running up and down mountains I have...lol
 
Posts: 1857 | Location: Alberta, Canada | Registered: 27 February 2008Reply With Quote
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I was thinking of taking a different approach. Since mountains scare me, I figured to wait until I was older and hope senility would would up my courage more than old age reduced my ability Smiler.

Dean


...I say that hunters go into Paradise when they die, and live in this world more joyfully than any other men.
-Edward, Duke of York
 
Posts: 876 | Location: Halkirk Ab | Registered: 11 January 2005Reply With Quote
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LOL....never underestimate the power of diminished mental capacity. I think you need to be crazy to hunt the mountains anyhow, I just got an earlier start on senility than most Smiler

Other than the chamois there really wasn't anything too scary over there but the entire country is uphill or downhill....
 
Posts: 1857 | Location: Alberta, Canada | Registered: 27 February 2008Reply With Quote
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Beautiful country and superb trophies. Thanks for sharing those great photos.


Steve
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Posts: 8100 | Location: NW Arkansas | Registered: 09 July 2005Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by sheephunterab:
LOL....never underestimate the power of diminished mental capacity. I think you need to be crazy to hunt the mountains anyhow, I just got an earlier start on senility than most Smiler

Other than the chamois there really wasn't anything too scary over there but the entire country is uphill or downhill....


Yup, your nose is never further than six inches from the ground. Big Grin
 
Posts: 3297 | Location: South of the Equator. | Registered: 02 August 2009Reply With Quote
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Great hunt, well written report and excellent trophies! Well done.


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Posts: 7081 | Location: Victoria, Texas | Registered: 30 March 2003Reply With Quote
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Wonderfull country and great safari ,congratulations .


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Posts: 6349 | Location: Cordoba argentina | Registered: 26 July 2004Reply With Quote
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Very nice trophies indeed. Can I ask what scope you were using?
 
Posts: 2359 | Location: London | Registered: 31 May 2003Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Boghossian:
Very nice trophies indeed. Can I ask what scope you were using?


It's a Zeiss 4.5-14x44 Conquest with Rapid Z 800 reticle.
 
Posts: 1857 | Location: Alberta, Canada | Registered: 27 February 2008Reply With Quote
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What a great read. You all certainly had a hunt to remember. Congrats on some true trophies.
 
Posts: 1484 | Location: Central Texas | Registered: 01 October 2010Reply With Quote
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