I arrived in Blenheim, Marlborough. In the north of the south island new Zealand around the end of May after spending some time on the west coast of NZ working on a deer farm and guiding some hunts. I came up here to work on the vineyards, and after sending my CV to my future employer he noticed that I hunted and guided and he had some contacts that I could probably get out in the bush with. Namely Alan Spencer the owner of Premium Game in Blenheim, a game dealer and game processor. After I got settled into my job I gave him a ring and a date was set. I didn’t know what we were going to be chasing but that’s part of the fun.
Tuesday night came round the day before the hunt and it was the first time I had been out in a while, so I made sure I had all my gear sorted, and had a proper feed up for the hard day ahead! The next morning I was up at 5 - breakfast and coffee were the order of the morning. I packed my bag with lunch and sorted my hunting belt, knives and accessories pouch. Alan picked me up in the Isuzu truck at 7.30 and we drove about an hour and a half southeast of Blenheim to a sheep station in the foothills. On the way, I was told goats and pigs were the target of the day and Alan wanted at least 20 goats for the factory. I would be using Alan’s .223.
We arrived at the station and started to glass for signs of goats; I was given a quick run through of the rifle and handed a box of rounds. We rounded the next bend to find 4 goats on the hill face around 80 yards away. ‘’Goats’’ blasted Alan, and me and his hunting buddy Brent jumped out and ran to a small rise. The goats were around 120 yards away at this point, but were coming to a stop before a patch of bush. Brent’s unmoderated .308 was first to make its presence known, followed shortly after by the moderated thump of my .223. Three of the goats were down on the hill face and the fourth was hard hit and had made off into the bush.
I chambered a round and turned the scope zoom down in case of a shot in the thick bush, as Alan got himself settled on the bonnet of the truck if the goat broke cover. Me and Brent headed up the hill and got to the bush line while he waited below and slipped into the bush to try and either find the goat or push it into the open for either Alan or Brent to finish the job, I quickly found the goat in a small clearing it was hit through the diaphragm, I quickly threw the rifle up and found the goat’s neck through the scope, it was all over quickly after. I shouted from the bush to the lads to confirm I had the runner.
I dragged said goat from the bush and Alan and Brent had already started to field dress the others, I made my way to them and dealt with the runner, bled and gralloched we loaded them into the back of the ute. I rolled a smoke as Alan and Brent glassed the surrounding area for more goats; we spotted a group of around 8 in a faraway saddle, but getting to them would be impossible with the wind the way it was. I watched them for ten mins to teach my eyes what to look for. We loaded up and headed further round the track, we reached a stock fence and unloaded from the ute, we crested a small ridge which looked down over a heavily bushed gully, we heard a goat calling in the distance.
Eventually we pinpointed where noise was coming from and quickly spotted a three-quarter grown goat walking up the quad track towards us. ‘’Get your rifle then, lad’’ I made my way down to the Isuzu at a brief pace grabbed the little .223, returning to the small rise. I was informed the goat has slipped into cover but I was to walk down the track and see if I could kick it up, or see any other. I didn’t find the goat but I found some decent sized pig tracks, I told Brent and he said this was one of his favourite spots to run his dogs after the pigs, and a matter of weeks before they had killed a 150lb boar not far from where we were. “It was a good hunt, Spency was over there” pointing to a high piece of ground. “We had hunted the next gully when we ran the pig over to this one. Alan told me he had seen it, so I made my way round we bailed him down there in the head of the creek”.
We loaded up and headed further into the station, we got to the yard and Alan told me we were going to grab the bike and Brent would follow us on it until we reached the hill country. Then we would use it to travel deeper into the back country; we quickly got to the bottom of the hill track. After eating a pie and quickly glassing we saw a lone goat not far away. I grabbed my gear and made my way along the base of the hill to where I was within 100 yards of the goat. I chambered a round and got setup on the bipod, found the goat nanny through the scope and delivered a lead pill.
I made my way to where she had fallen, performed a gralloch, and bled her before heading to the quad track where Alan and Brent were waiting on the bike. We left the goat at the side of the track and headed further out. We spotted a single goat and Alan made an approach with me in tow, he got onto the goat and I was to cover in case any more broke from cover that we hadn’t yet seen. Alan’s Tikka rifle connected and I got ready for any would-be escapees.
After waiting 5 mins with no action, we headed down to his goat that had slipped down into the bottom of the gut, he went for a look in the next gully as I performed the gralloch and headed down to Brent who had brought the bike round to below us on the track. We loaded the young billy on the rack and headed further round to where we had spotted a large group of goats. On the way I was dropped off and told to hunt up a gut before breaking over to the next glen. I did so and spotted 4 red deer spikes and a promising 8 point stag. After watching them for around 20 mins, they fed over the crest of the hill and moved on, so I carried on hunting up the gut.
Before reaching the top, I spotted 2 goats on a rocky outcrop a few hundred yards away. I quickly decided on the best approach and put my plan into practice. I was quickly in range as I lined up on the goat who was now standing front on. I tried for a neck shot but pulled it ever so slightly to the left slightly enough for the goat to get away unscathed, after the formal cussing and trying to justify the miss, I made my way to where the goats had been just to make sure it was a clean miss and I hadn’t wounded it. My suspicions were confirmed, no hair, no blood, just a small chunk taken out of the boulder that had been behind the goat. I made my way round into the glen and sat on the crest of the hill enjoying the sun and surroundings. I started to spy for goats and spotted a few on a broken face around 1.5kms away; I decided to go after them and 10 mins later a I had a 3 year old billy in the scope. They were feeding towards me and I had a good rest on a boulder so I waited until he was 40 yards before taking the shot. I figured I was better to only take one as I would need to carry him out, and it was steep and rough country.
After the rest of them had moved off, I started to look for the billy. I thought that due to the amount of scrub and bushes he wouldn’t have slipped too far down the face even though it was steep - like seriously steep, but of course it never goes to plan and I eventually found him almost at the base of the hill - he had, I‘m sure, found the only clear route down!!! But alas, I had to get him and myself out of there somehow. I gralloched and backpacked him, whereby I split the back legs and fed the front legs though them creating 2 shoulder straps with the legs. I loaded him on, grabbed the rifle, and started back up the face to where I could get back over the original gut I’d come from. After an hour of slipping and grabbing at bushes, I made it up to the top where I could drop back into the gut.
I stopped at the top for a breathe and a smoke, I eventually reached the track and within 10 mins Alan and Brent were coming into view with a fully loaded quad of goats! I told them about my hunt and they laughed about the pack out and goat finding its way to the bottom. We loaded up on the quad and picked up my earlier goat, before moving them into the back of the ute. We counted up and we had 19, we couldn’t go home on 19 so we had a quick break for something to eat and to talk BS for 20 mins, before returning the quad to the shed and heading out to another reach of the station.
Driving up through an open plateau we spotted 5 goats up on a bluff around 80-100 yards away. They were on my and Brent's side of the truck, so we jumped out and let rip quickly dropping 4 of them. The fifth had snuck into the bush, so we waited and he quickly came back out to see what was going on. Brent’s .308 barked and the goat stumbled down off the bluff into a patch of ferns. I reloaded the little .223 and threw it over my shoulder as we headed to retrieve the goats. We got to them and quickly rounded them up, deciding to field dress them at the bottom of the hill. We dragged them down, and dealt with them before loading them into the truck, now we could go home with 24 in the bag.
On the way out I spotted a black cat slinking its way through some sparse cover and I kicked into Scottish gamekeeper mode ‘’Cat, stop’’, I blurted to Alan and I jumped out. Chambering a round and getting on the bipod seemed to happen instantly, before a quick squeak to stop the tom. Again, the little rifle let out a dull thump and the cat flipped over. On retrieving it, it turned out to be a decent sized cat.
We made our way back to the larder and hung and tagged the goats before heading to the liquor stop for some bourbon. All in all, it was a bloody good day - it was hard country, but not a day I will be soon forgetting!