Back to the diary to re-cap the season. Turned out to be a good read! It is great how it all comes flooding back and the details are stored in the memory banks, they just need to be unlocked from time to time.
Our “season” and I use the word season in a broad sense because as all of you that have hunted with us know we are not governed by any official legal season, it’s 365 24/7.
For practical reasons I try and get started around the second week of March. I’m tied up with my fishing guiding until then and Sue is busy flying so the second week seems to work for us.
First and last hunters in had the furthest to travel this year, first from Germany the last from Spain, if you think it’s a long way from Canada or the USA try doubling the distance.
First hunt is always exciting, you are having the first BIG look at everything after a few discreet scouting trips and its amazing what you find as you push a little deeper into the brush and scrub. Certainly no lack of animals on that first hunt and if anything we probably saw too many big stags. Ruppy was away home with a big 370 plus inch stag.
Any thoughts on my behalf that “there goes the big one” for the year didn’t last long, and as it turned out we were able to find the right animals all the way though the season.
Sure we had some “if only” and “woulda, coulda, shoulda” moments but we’re here to hunt and that’s all part of the journey.
By the middle of June we had sent 20 Stags 16 Fallow 12 Tahr, a Chamois, 2 goats, an Arapawa ram, wallaby’s and a number of birds to the taxidermist, by now most of these animals are adorning walls all around the world.
Every hunt is a highlight, OK, for Duncan and I it is another day out on the hills that we know so well with animal species that we are very familiar with. For each and every hunter it’s a complete adventure and the culmination of months of planning and excited anticipation. Many for the first and perhaps only time hunting stags and Tahr, for others it is your 2nd 3rd or 4th trip down to us, with bow or rifle it’s a huge adventure.
As a bow hunter I only had the pleasure of 2 bow hunts this year, both resulted in fine stags being taken. Tom got his 3rd stag with us. We put in numerous stalks over 4 days before everything lined up, but line up they did. On a wet cold final day Tom borrowed my 25-06 and proved that recurve archers can shoot rifles as well bows and took a HUGE fallow buck.
Jim’s bow hunted stag almost seemed “to easy”. Its not often that one of my ”cunning plans” work on the first day of a hunt . It normally takes a day or 2 for guide and hunter to build an understanding, not Jim and I. 3 hrs into the hunt and Jims stag is on the ground, 27yard shot and 60 yards of travel after the shot, I was surprised, relieved, happy and more surprised all at the same time. Jim was plain happy and to cap it of Sabrina got to see the whole crazy morning. Little wonder I enjoy hunting especially bow hunting. I won’t say to much about the fallow buck Jim but its in Fairbanks and I guess it was the ‘ying of the yang’ from the stag hunt. The tahr hunt was oh so typical of bow hunting tahr. The first evening we came within a yard or 2 of getting a nice bull. Next morning full of confidence I was completely wrong about every move we made, hero to zero.
It did however show the flexibility we have that we could put the bow down and complete the hunt with the rifle. We don’t have to worry about rules and regulations with separate bow/rifle seasons. If you bring your bow down and are open minded in your expectations we can quickly change our equipment and hunt on.
No point in coming all this way and not having a plan B. Just make sure you tell us exactly what your expectations are and we’ll put your ideas into our plans and work together for a happy and successful out come.
April was all about rifle hunting roaring stags and tahr hunting.
We took some awesome stags. I will never forget Tim, Dave, Stone, Duncan and I trying to melt into the top of a huge boulder we were glassing from as a stag – I’d walked Stone away from hours early and had eluded Tim and Duncan – came out in think brush, laid it antlers back and roared its head of. It then started walking deliberately towards us, the whole time Duncan and I were pleading with the guys to stop looking at that stag and shoot the HUGE bull tahr that was in the back ground. Stags dead and the Tahr? Well Duncan and I are still dreaming about it. Oh and sorry Stone I should never have walked away from that stag in the first place but we’d only been hunting 15 minutes and it just did not seem “right” to end things before we even started. Yeah me getting it less than right again. What did I just say about listening to the hunters expectations!!
But these are only my memories and I trust all our hunters have many many more memories from their days spent down here hunting with us.
Things got a tad hectic in the middle of the month and I was possibly guilty of trying to do too many things at once.
With free range hunting I am always constrained by limiting hunting opportunities during prime rut periods and everybody wanting the same date.
I’m always learning and hopefully listening.
To the rest of you that hunted with us this year, Sam ,Tina, Dick and Becky, the Butz family, Roland, the Carlson Party, Dave and Jeremy, thank you.
To Josh Butz , your goat is MY trophy of the year, amazing set of horns.
Steve, you now have bragging rights after an awesome 510 yard one shot kill on that stag, especially as Ryan’s Tahr was 10 yards closer at 500.
Casey and his 338 still rule supreme on the long range stakes however, those chamois are small targets to boot.
There’s been a noticeable swing to long range shots over the past couple of years. Personally, I still have to walk there after the shot BUT if you the hunters have faith and confidence in your equipment and can demonstrate to me that you know how to use it I am more than happy for 500 plus yard shot. With laser range finders, scopes with all the bells and whistles and ballistic charts it seems anything is indeed possible.
The final word is directed at the weather, “normally’ we don’t have a weather issue at all, this year we got hammered day after day by rain and snow, more so in late May and early June. All I can say is it was unusual and by the law of averages we should be clear of inclement weather for the next 15 years! But bring good wet weather gear. It can make the difference between success and failure when things turn ugly. Remember footwear and fitness.
Sue and I will be in the USA at Dallas Safari Club Convention and Safari Club International, Reno conventions. Dallas booth 2650 6th -8th of Jan and Reno 2929 26th -29th Jan.
See you all there.