West Coast Himalayan Tahr

josh3105

Well-Known Member
Right, as promised for the few that took the time to read my pig story from NZ I shall now write up a bit about the 5 day Tahr hunt. I will try and answer a few questions but feel free to post below or DM with anything you want clarified.

Location: west coast, south island, NZ, Butler top hut

Time of year: June, NZs start to winter, start/mid rut

Species: Himalayan Tahr, i wanted to try for Chamois but they were up way too high up around 2000metres everytime we saw them

So, monday morning we crack on nice and early just outside of Franz Josef to catch our heli ride into the wilderness for 0900, luckily when we showed up at 0830 the chopped was ready to load and we got off early. A beautiful trip in following the river up through the valleys. If i thought the pig hinting was tough, i knew this was going to be hard when we saw the terrain!

We set up shop from the DOC hut, luckily we were staying alone and had plenty of firewood/food/booze etc. Once set up we looked at the map and headed out on our first hunt around 1100, up through the native bush, into a creek/river bed and then back into the bush. This should have been a warning to us, not to come back in the dark. The cliff face to get into the native bush and onto an old hunting track that hadnt been used in years was near vertical and required the use of an existing rope to get up the 30metre climb. We pushed through the track and came back out along the river bed and spotted some Tahr just over 1km away and way up there so we had some well deserved lunch and came up with a game plan. We set off just after 1300 to tackle this mob of Tahr which had a huge bull in. We started off at 600 metres altitude and when i pulled the trigger we were around 1300 metres. No tracks, just pure rock face slopes, but they had a hidden gem, the alpine parrot known as the Kea, who are very inquisitive and are beautiful birds. We pushed on to the Tahr and got to 290 yards with a 45 degree shot. We identified a nice bull, but we knew there was a bigger one and waited for him to show himself, sure enough he showed and the 7mm rem mag did the business! Boom! The valley erupted, Tahr came out of nowhere, Boom! A nanny hit hard bowling off the cliff face. Somehow, the other bull had just stood there, presented the shot and i was told to shoot as we didnt know what the rest of the week would hold, Boom! Three Tahr, three rounds, happy days! Now, we just had to get to ****ing things!

It was hard going just to get the bull and nanny that had dropped off the face, but it was heartbreaking to realise we couldnt retrieve the massive bull that was just 100metres up on a ledge (part and parcel of NZ hunting). None the less we decided to measure and cape the other bull... 13 1/4 inch bull!!! What a ripper! If that bull was just over 13 inches who knows what the other one was ( will post a still photo from the shot video below). Meat taken from both animals and cape/photos sorted we decided we needed to get off the mountain due to weather and impeding darkness, the descent was hard with the added weight of the cape and meat and the frozen face was very slippery. We got down to the river bed, had some water and snacks and cracked on through the native trail in the dark with head torches until we reached the rope down point. At this point it was agreed to throw the cape off the ledge due to weight and safety concerns. The climb down was horrible to say the least and prevented us from hunting that way for the remainder of the trip (kiwi hated it too, not just a pedantic pom!). We got back into the hut after what must have been 3.5/4 hrs after the shot, we cooked some food, cranked the fire and smashed some tins!

I will post some photos below from the first day and then write about the other days below
 

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josh3105

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Day two...
We started day two slowly due to the mammoth day we had on monday, leisurely breakfast and then crack on for a stalk into a gully, nothing seen in the morning and headed back to camp for lunch. After some glassing from the hut we saw some unreachable Tahr and decided to head out to another creek for a stake out for chamois.

Lovely views but, unfortunately no chamois spotted, just a few native birds such as the much larger and endangered NZ wood pigeon.

Also, to put into perspective the huge area we were watching... the attached photo has a green bank opposite us, it was 200 yards away...
 

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josh3105

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Day three...
An early morning on day three, started off with a challenging double river crossing, made harded by a deep freeze over the rocks. Luckily, no wet feet! We traversed another DOC track up and up towards the 'ice lake' stopping several times to glass gullies and creeks. The track seemed to be never ending but we finally got to the edge of the lake and decided to stop off for lunch, at this point i realised that my phone had suffered massively due to the cold and had drained the battery life, i hoped all day it wasnt broken! After lunch we pushed high in the search for Tahr and some were spotted over the other side of the lake... some 800 yards away.

We stalked down and realised there was just no way across the lake at all. We got the range finder out, did the maths and set up, not your traditional hunting but fairly normal in NZ. Shooting at an elevation angle of 30 degrees i was able to get steady, first round? High, slight adjustment, second round, dead nanny, third round miss, fourth round hit another nanny, fifth round was used to make sure the second nanny was dead rather than engage any others and leave her to suffer. The furthest shot was taken at 640 yards, not bad shooting at all, i was happy nothing was wounded and we carried on back to the hut stalking on the way down. We saw 4 chamois but as stated all above the 2000 metre mark and over the other side of a considerable river.

Note: culling nannies and leaving the meat isnt best practice but it has to be done here, hunters are under huge pressure to decrease populations from somewhere between 30k-50k down to 10k Tahr, the government flies through the valleys slaughtering herds of mature bull Tahr from helicopters and plans a massive cull of 25k.
 

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josh3105

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Day 4 was unfortunately a write off due to low cloud and rain/snow depending on elevation levels.

Day 5 was an early flight out at 0830.

What a trip and thank you very much NZ!
 

th32

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Thanks again for the write-ups. Do you think june is the best time for Alpine hunting in NZ because of the rut or a bit too cold?
 

josh3105

Well-Known Member
A few answers for you guys:

Rifle - tikka t3x with fluted barrel and bolt, carbon fibre stock and mod, swarovski scope (z5 i think? Im not sure)

I think June is a great time to hunt BUT as already suggested by John, alpine/mountain hunting is a dangerous business. You cant do it safely on your own,, you need ice axes, crampons, locating beacons, gps as well as good clothing. The other issue is the animals are high up there in the winter and coming into spring, i believe the height in winter is due to rutting behaviour and the height in spring is due to it being nice and cool for them when getting rid of the winter coat. Summer is apparently an easier hunt on both Tahr and Chamois but the capes arent as nice (this is personal preference but i think most share my views). The winter is bitterly cold here when the wind is up, when youre climbing and theres no wind its okay as the body creates the heat, however you need to have a bit of common sense, if you sit up for lunch take cover from wind, get your warm kit on etc, when you move off, take the warm kit off as you will sweat and make it wet and useless. The other issue apart that leads into safety is the weather, the weather can change in minutes, being in the wilderness means choppers in, choppers out or a full day walk out down to the road, if there is a storm or low cloud/heavy rain youre either stuck or youre walking out and your hunt can be weathered out.

The pack i used was a cactus hunting pack with a rifle holster/cover on the side allowing the full use of your body. The pack was brilliant, when we werent carrying any meat or capes the pack was probably in the region of 10-15kg, we really tried to pack light and just take 36hrs worth of food, empty water bottle (1.5kg you dont have to carry round), waterproofs, warm gear, knife, stove etc.

Minikeeper - i would have loved to have got a chamois but everyone we saw was unworkable, i would have done the height happily but it was always something else such as a deep river crossing or sheer cliff face unfortunately
 

johngryphon

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Ah Colonial Antipodes hunting,some of the most accessable and cheap hunting in the world if you are prepared to get away from the hochsitz and thermals.
Josh from Bristol has done it and has had the trip of a lifetime in comparison presumably to what Bristol offers.
Perhaps Josh you will venture to Australia one day and try its wares.
Buffalo up top and Sambar down below with a few 1000 miles in between.
 

Ooops

Well-Known Member
Both are well up on my bucket list for sure ..... I've just got to wait for the lottery to come up
Could take a while
 

josh3105

Well-Known Member
Ah Colonial Antipodes hunting,some of the most accessable and cheap hunting in the world if you are prepared to get away from the hochsitz and thermals.
Josh from Bristol has done it and has had the trip of a lifetime in comparison presumably to what Bristol offers.
Perhaps Josh you will venture to Australia one day and try its wares.
Buffalo up top and Sambar down below with a few 1000 miles in between.
As soon as i can afford it again and get a month off of work, an aussie adventure awaits! Buffalo, scrub bull, pigs and kangaroos etc! You guys dont have public land though do you?
Josh
 

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