There are 2 labs playing on the deck, a tabby cat stretched out in front of the fire box, snow falling above 1000m(3200ft) and craggy rain all around us.

Sues off to the airport for work, no matter it’s Sunday, it’s on the roster and she is the boss, it’s not a flying day but there is always a small mountain of paper work to keep the business she CEOs for running smoothly.

I’ve got an ample pile of dry firewood under the eaves on the deck and my normal clutter scattered of paper over the kitchen table..who needs an office.

2019 hunting season is behind us, the stags up on the lease will be getting the itch and soon drop their antlers. In a months time the first real signs of spring will be all around us, the greys and tans will turn green as the cycle starts again.

It’s 8 months ago that we shot the first stag of the season, it was in hard velvet and set the tone for the rest of the 2019 hunting season.

Duncan had a long and very successful guiding season, every day was special and the highlights just kept coming for him and his hunters. Duncan and Kerry are taking on a much more involved role within Telford Hunting, the 5 yr plan is to see then secede to full ownership and operations, they’ll be able to employ me!

Lots of work to do on the secession plan over the coming months, we all want to get this right and the best way to do that is with our eyes wide open and pace.

My hunting season kicked in March 15th, some 11 weeks after Duncan brought the first stag of the season back to the freezer here on Domain Road. Sue and I have been here 3 years now, time flies, the girls have finished schooling and are out in the big wide world. Domain Road works well for us, it’s 5 minutes to my hunting lease,Mt Maude, rural and quiet, and 12 minutes for Sue  to the airport.

Sue is full time at the airport in her CEO role for Classic flights/ Learn to Fly. The challenge for me has been learning the office side of the business that Sue once took such good care of, it’s not my happy place but we are developing a system..of sorts.

I still fit in 9-10 weeks guided fly fishing from late October to the end of December, once it was over twice that fly fishing. Hunting has taken the lead now and our lease on Mt Maude is the main reason why. January and February, once the prime summer dry fly season are now taken up with sales trips to N.America and sorting out livestock( deer and Chamois ) on the lease.

We back in Reno  for SCI 2020 both 2240, prior to that will be Kansas City SCI chapter show and Ne chapter show. Duncan and I are both heading to Canada on 14th September to visit our friends and hunters at Drayton Valley SCI  banquet. Be a first trip to Canada for me having worked in with  Drayton for over 10 years,it was time to visit and we are looking forward to it.

2020 season is set to begin 1st March, at this early stage all the signs are for another busy season. Rut dates are pretty much gone and we have solid booking through to mid June. So talk to us now guys and girls as it seems word is out on the great new lease the Telford’s have and the amazing trophies that Duncan ,and occasionally GT are bringing in off Mt Maude. Just to spice things up we will have our first Elk hunts on the new lease this year(2020). There are 5 big 370 -400 inch Bulls up there, 3 have appointments with hunters, so 2 left.

Another opportunity for 2020 is the availability of a trophy  over 700 inches- yes you read that correctly. Odds are this particular stag could score as much as 730, putting him in the top 10, he’ll have a 6 figure trophy fee to match…any takers? Let me know ASAP as this opportunity may not present itself again for several years.

2019 saw us take several stags between 450-500 inches. As early as October 2018 I predicted our mild winter and amazing spring could result in some much bigger than “ normal” stags on our lease. I love it when I’m right. We are all in no doubt the the Mt Maude lease is proving too be a very sound investment – thank goodness.

Duncan and I are getting to know our way around better and better each season and with complete control on management and harvest even our high expectations are being exceeded. It’s not all champagne, we lost several (that we know of) 400-430 class stags this past season, 4 of which died due to getting there antlers tangled in vines while stripping velvet. We want our stags shot not dying of natural courses, as the saying goes you have livestock you’ll get dead stock”. That same bountiful spring that gave us those great antlers quickly took some back. The learning curve continues , even after 30 years in this job. Plenty of 350-450 stags for 2020, hopeful a handful around the 500 mark and one very BIG stag.

Fallow are continuing to flourish, the great genetics we have invested in in are yielding some very nice trophies. At times we feel some of the Bucks could benefit from another year of age but big is big and once mature why take the risk of waiting another year, you can, after all only shot a trophy once. We took 18 good bucks of Maude this season, there are about the same number coming thru the system every year and I know of 3 big bucks that have over wintered and will be crackers in 2020, if we can find them when we need them.

Our Chamois are now well established, the 6-8 resident animals were complimented with an additional 25 after a live capture operation  in June 2018. Chamois will always present a physical challenge( greater than Tahr) to all but the fittest hunters.we do have the numbers now and with the use of a helicopter drop off after a short 6-10 “lift” with a local operator right off our lease we are able to offer great foot hunting, it’s not a sure thing and you most  diffinately need to be a
“Sheep fit”. Our best advice to Chamois hunters is be fit and also get your head in  the  right space, if you put mental barriers up you’ve all but lost the battle to get up and around in Chamois terrain. Terrain that once you are in it is no where near as challenging as it looks from the bottom of the mountain. Trust your guides.

I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking. There is a combination of 2018 and 2019 season hunting photos. I lost the plot in 2018 when my office queen found a real job( one that paid better) and I struggled with the paper work and general office work, I’m getting slowly better with it, but still run to Maude to hunt and manage animals any chance I get(make).

It’s vital that our business stays connected with our past and potential clients and keeps up with technology, even if I don’t like some of that technology.

Duncan and Kerry can put their stamp on the Facebook,  Instagram and plethora of social media opportunities. Im sticking to pen and paper.

While 2019 was a great success as a hunting season it brought some extremely trying circumstance at us as a family, we, the family, will be pleased to call 2019 done and start a fresh. I’m doing that now as the hunting season closes.

For those of you that have know us from previous adventures here in NZ with Sue ,Tish ,Mel and I, Im putting a link to Tish’s blog page. Warning, it’s a very confronting read so I’ll trust your individual judgement on its content.

Whilst it has no relevance to hunting or our core business there comes a time when only one thing matters and that is family.