had posted this in wrong area before
Chamois hunt, New Zealand
I spent some time guiding hunts on the west coast on NZ in 2013, and after getting used to area, a couple of hunters from Australia came for a chamois hunt, my boss took them down to southland to the mavora lakes while I stayed back and ran the deer farm, it was a quiet time of year on the farm the stags where rutted up and in with the hinds, I was mainly just fixing fences and replacing a few. The hunters and Marcus where in the mavora lakes area for 5 days and only saw a handful of chamois all young bucks and does, nothing worth shooting!
We had another client coming down from the Marlborough region of the south island NZ, he was a wine producer and a good friend of Marcus. The lads to back from mavora late on Tuesday and after a quick feed and a few whiskeys the guests retired to their room, me and Marcus came up with a plan.
I was to fly into an area known as spot X on Thursday morning with the guests and Marcus would stay back and wait for the next client to arrive.
So Wednesday was an easy day to recoup from the trip to mavora, a good breakfast and a tour around the deer farm in the morning, in the afternoon a wee hunt around some of the easier creeks close to HQ.
That night we packed all the gear needed for the 3 day hunt, tents, fly’s, stove, pans, whiskey a lot of whiskey! And the next morning after a good cooked breakfast to fuel us for the few days ahead we drove into Franz Josef. We were to fly out with James Scott’s heli centre in Franz, after a short wait the Hughes 500 came into view and was soon landed and then being loaded with rifles, gear, and hunters! It was a short 10 minute hop to the camp site, on a green flat beside a big gravel river, on the flight in we saw a couple of goats further a up the creek, and plenty of chamois sign along all of the sand bars! Spirits where high as we landed and unloaded the gear we crouched down and ot a hold of our gear as the down force of the heli’s propellers gave all the surrounding bushes and small trees a good rustle up! Camp site just a hundred yards or so from the drop site so we started shifting gear and the lads started building their tent while I set about cutting sticks for camp and getting set up.
It was still early in the day so we got everything at camp sorted and comfy as it was gonna get! After a pot of coffee and pack of smokes, we decided it was late enough in the day to start having a look for chammy, we would head down creek for the late afternoon evening and leave the upper creek where the good flats where for the next day so we would not scent them up. We started from camp and soon found signs of chammy activity, and surprisingly a good amount of red deer sign, we found a small side creek and decided to have a look as there was plenty of light left in the day I told one of the lads to half cock his rifle as it was a tight creek and shots would be quick! We spent around an hour hunting up the side creek and came across a chammy carcass and fresh sign but nothing materialised, so we headed down the creek.
We soon where back at the main creek the older of the two lads had had a fall up the side creek and had given his knee a good bash, we decided he would be better to set up in an ambush where we had seen good sign so we sat im down at the edge of a thick patch of native bush, and me and the other lad headed further down creek but soon abandoned that plan as we came across fresh human and god foot prints knowing the area would be scented up and not worth wasting on we headed up river to where we saw the deer sign and settled in for the last hour or so of day light on the off chance a deer might come out. Stag or hind it would be some fresh meat for camp and there was room in the heli to take the whole carcass out! Alas we didn’t have any luck with the deer and once shooting light had gone we headed up river and met up with lad who was sat out on ambush, he had better luck and he had seen a doe and kid chammy, he said he could have easily shot them as they crossed 60 yards in front of him but he decided it wasn’t worth stirring the place up with rifle shot.
Back at camp we feasted on sausages and freeze dried risotto! And a few whiskeys before hitting the sack to be up early the next day for the hike up river!
We were up early and nursing a hot coffee the next morning. We waited until shooting light because we knew the whole way up the creek there would be chances. We crossed the creek numerous times on the way and where suitably wet and cold by the time we saw out first chammy, a buck feeding on a slip around 200 yards away we sat and watched the buck for around 15 mins before he slipped back into the bush, he wasn’t trophy quality and we decided to let him move on quietly and wait for something better. After another 40 mins or so of walking and crossing the creek, we arrived at the first of two green flats the smaller one not producing anything; the second in the other hand did produce chamois!
The hunt was on!
We spotted a buck with his head down feeding through some cover and started to make an approach, the guest chambered a round and had his rifle on half cock, on the way we bumped a yearling feeding in hollow, and luckily he quietly moved off into the bush without disturbing the buck, we were making ground on the buck when I noticed an odd shape off to my right hand side up wind of us but close real close I gave the signal to get down to the lads.
A quick look with the glasses revealed the odd shape was the back of end of a chamois, and another next to it and another, in total there was 5 in the group, 3 does 1 youngster and an as yet unidentified chammy, I signalled the closer of the lads to come along side me and close the bolt to be ready, I also told the other to load up in case another buck broke cover.
As the other lad loaded he closed the bolt a bit hard and the unidentified chammy’s head popped up BUCK and a big buck! Only problem being he was 16 yards away and he had clocked up, ‘’whenever you’re ready and quickly’’ ni whispered to the guest, he fired and all hell broke loose! There was chamois everywhere I counted 9 breaking from one area a buck came from down at the river side and ran for the bush the guest behind me had already seen the buck and was swinging through for a shot he fired and the shot split a branch between him and the chammy.
After the commotion had settled, we stayed in the same position for 5 mins before I decided that we would back out the way we came and have a coffee and let everything settle before looking for the fallen quarry, because if the shot that broke the branch had hit the animal there was no way of knowing where it had hit him, so we would give to time to either bed up or expire. After a coffee and defrosting our feet in the morning sun, I took one of the guests rifles and headed for the bush to follow up on the chammy that had made for the bush while the guests where going to look for the first beast.
I headed up the trail the chammy had taken and after half an hour of searching didn’t find any signs of a hit, I made the decision the branch had obviously deflected the bullet away from the chamois. I got down to the other lads expecting to see them standing proud as punch with a dead buck!
What happened was a different story though, there standing with their tails between their legs, looking very sheepish! ‘’well lads where is it’’ em well see the thing is Konar we couldn’t actually find it, so I looked where the chammy was and the path it had taken and there was no sign surely he hadn’t missed at less than 20 yards!!!!!!
We decided to not waste time and head back to camp, on the way we saw the goats we had seen on the flight in, meat was low in camp and the lads where suffering badly from itchy trigger fingers, goats are a feral pest in NZ and regularly culled, we decided to try and take both, the first guest that had missed the 20 yard chamois got into a prone position and the other got steady on a chunk of drift wood. The plan was for the first lad to take the ewe and the second was going to clean up the lamb.
Whenever you’re ready, the unmoderated .284 custom rifle roared into action, but there was no reaction from the goats other than a bit of confusion, there was on the other hand a huge explosion of sand and gravel and a few meters in front of us, the second lad took the lamb for the table and the ewe skipped off, turns out while in mavora the first lad had dropped his rifle, and when Marcus advised him to check zero he swore blind he hadn’t dunted the rifle, well for the sake of that he missed out on the chance of a 9’’+ chamois buck and left a sour taste on the whole trip! We got back to camp and skinned the lamb off and cut it onto packable pieces, before making a stew.
Moral of the story boys and girls check your zero and don’t ruin a hunt, or annoy your guide!