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New Zealand 2019 – Part 1

At Safari Club in 2018 my wife Connie and I bid on an auction hunt for 2 Sika deer for two hunters, with Shane Quinn of Alpine Hunting in New Zealand . We were fortunate enough to obtain the hunt and the first thing we did was to add a Fallow deer for Connie and a Sambar for me, as I wanted to sculpture a new form.  We set the date for the summer of 2019 and little did I know just how great this hunt would turn out to be!

Alpine Hunting is located on New Zealand’s north Island and is a place of beauty. The view from the lodge looked directly up into our hunting country:

 With Sambar as my focus, my guide Luke had set up a special tree stand months earlier in a secluded draw where he hoped we would have some action. We were really hidden well and I felt really good about our prospects.

But morning of day one came and went with little Sambar action.  We did see a small bull so our anticipation remained high. But our plan was to leave the blind in late morning and head back to the lodge to pick up Connie to see if we could locate a decent Sika for her. The Sika picture below shows a great bull ready to melt into the darkness of the brush behind.There was no shortage of these deer and she made a great 100 yard shot to fill her Sika tag. Luke was a great photographer with his iPone and he set up this fantastic photo…

On day two we were back in our bow blind well before daylight.  And while we did not see a shooter Sambar, we got a close look at several giant Fallows.  When we climbed down later in the morning I told Luke that if that “heavy” one ever came back I would like to try for him. These Fallows are huge! But it was now Connie’s turn again and this time she would be after a Fallow of her own. We made several stalks and finally got within 160 yards of what looked to me to be an absolute giant.

A bow always makes life more difficult, but on our 3rd time in the Sambar blind, the very first animal down the trail past our tree was the heavy fallow from the day before!

With some success under our belt we decided to head back out in the afternoon to see if we could locate a Sambar.  And locate we did!  Just before dark we found a single bull in a small draw and Luke had a plan to get a shot…

This Sambar turned out to be a nice average specimen perfect for a new form. My main goal was now complete.  But I still had a Sika to hunt, or at least that is what I thought the plan would be. Instead, we decided to hunt a cull Sambar that had been frequenting the blind area.

We sat in the pouring rain the next morning for our chance at the cull, and more Sambar reference…

Then on the 5th day we awoke from rain to a good covering of snow!  We headed for a box blind in a new area and ended up with a shot at a nice Sika.

Great hunt… great trophies and great reference for new forms. If it had ended there it would have been a very successful time. But as I looked back through my photos, during lunch after taking the Sika,  I came across a Red Stag photo that I had taken the first day in camp as we just rode around looking at the country and the animals.

Now we all know that different hunters all seem to like different antler characteristics.  Some like narrow and tall, I like width and mass.  Some like perfectly clean racks, I like drop-tines and stickers. This bull embodied most of what I really appreciate in a rack and I realized this would be a dream trophy for me.   Since I could really use the reference, I asked Luke if there was any chance that in the day and a half we had left to hunt that we might be able locate this one particular bull again. All we could do was try. That evening at least we saw him again so we knew we were in the right area and a plan was drawn for the morning hunt.

Finding him again was one thing but getting close enough for a bow shot is another. It’s still hard to believe it all came together.

I spent a lot of time on this trip just photographing animals, and following are a few examples:

Fallow buck.

Sika.

Sika fight!

Red Stag.

Red Deer are so impressive!.  Lots of antler here.

Spanish Goat.

Well, as they say, all good things must come to an end and we headed for home.  But “good things” aren’t actually done for me just yet, as there are new forms to be made!  More on that sometime down the road,  in part 2.

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