Hunting season 2023: back in business 

Who can’t recall 25th of March 2020?

As a hunting guide it’s etched into my memory, and here we are 25th March 2023. Three years later and three weeks into our 2023 hunting season with grins on our faces, and let’s be honest, finally some money in our bank account.

Importantly all these current hunts are postponements from 2020, many of them booked in 2019. The feeling of closure, coupled with the sharing of the complexities of the three to four year wait, are something only those of us involved directly can fully appreciate. What a journey, thank you for your patience.

The hunting has been great to date, the quality of the animals and numbers have benefited from not having the hunting pressure. Unique, sure. Will it last? Well yes and no. By being conservative and with animal management to the fore, we can maintain the quality. Numbers, well that’s a little more complex and will only be fully transparent as the season draws to a close in June. It will be difficult to accurately know what animal numbers we have due to having no data from 2020, 21 or 22 harvest numbers. If we stick to quality over quantity, we should be set for 2024 and beyond. Certainly great to look forward to the positive challenges ahead of us.

Red Stag Web Cam
Red Stag Hunting in New Zealan

The sheer joy off getting up in the morning with a sense of excitement around the breakfast table and the excited chatter over coffee of the day’s hunting ahead. Not much betters that, until a late lunch and the exchange of stories from the morning hunt. For many it’s about the stags seen, often their first ever sighting of a stag. Where was it, how far, how big, can we get to it? And in most cases we, the guide team, have a very good idea on how to answer those questions, but the excitement from the hunters is contagious and welcomed, it’s game on.

Fed and refreshed, it’s out for the afternoon/evening hunt which mostly start out as glassing missions to set up tomorrow’s hunt but it’s almost inevitable that a stag or fallow is taken as last light appears. Then it’s celebrations aided by a sense of purpose to get photos taken while the light holds, animals skinned and quartered in the field and back to the chiller and the house staff briefed that, yes!, we will be late (again) and supper needs to be held until we are all back at base, often well after dark, to an acknowledged resignation from the kitchen that supper was ready three hours ago! The perfect hunting day. 

Then we get to do it all again the next day and the next . No, it never gets old, yeah, it gets harder to pull the body out from the warm bed some days, but day in, day out, it’s different every day, no two the same, different people, different animals, different circumstance and then there is the wind and the weather.

Mt Maude, our hunting lease has, over the last 25 days, rewarded us with 16 stags, seven fallow bucks and two chamois and a million smiles and a hug or three, and the occasional celebratory beer!

100% success to date. Let’s see what the next 67 days have in store! 

The rut is late and animal movements slow which bodes well for our next three to four hunts as we fully expect many more animals to give up their hiding spots and let nature’s urges addle their normally astute behaviour, more good stuff to look forward to.

Life as a hunting guide is returning to a familiar pattern, one that I’ve missed, missed a lot.

You want photos? Sorry, come and get your own….!


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