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Shankspony
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A hunt Report.....
Sep 27th, 2018 at 7:34am
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I lay on my back on the river bank and looked up through my binoís at the mountain top across the river from us. At that stage I didnít know its name, but over the next years it would affectionately get called Mt Misery. Between us and it was a raging dangerous piece of water and i was aware only too well that not far from where I lay deaths had occurred of people who had tried to cross.
What fascinated me, was the large number of Tahr I was seeing. We were kilometres away yet a line of Tahr could be seen filing across a rocky ridge.  Dave and I discussed it. People were not hunting those Tahr. We should.
There was no legal helicopter access to these mountains or across that river. No trails or walking tracks across or up that mountains face. We were already 4 hours from the road. We were not stupid enough to try the river. We walked a further 2 hours until we reached our originally intended hunting area. A popular spot that sees good numbers of hunters. We tried to forget that mountain.
At 4 am the next morning, Dave and I woke ahead of the rest of our party and climbed up valley. With the last of the evening light we had spotted some huntable tahr and wanted to hit them at daylight.
Six am arrived and we were closing in, another 200 meters of altitude along a bush edge to reach the face the tahr were on. Dawn was half an hour away yet the sky was lightening but not enough yet to shoot. Not for us anyway  but someone could. We jumped as a clatter over our heads and a roar of a turbine startled us. We ran as fast as we could to the edge, peering out, I knew what was happening as  the chopper worked our face, the sound of shots just discernible over the rotor and engine noise.
A few minutes later the chopper flew off, its cargo strung underneath for us to see. We trudged back to camp for breakfast. The guys back at camp ironically informed us that they got nothing from their bunks either.
Next morning dave and I crossed that river. It was up to our chests and at one point we were floating but we had chosen well. We started climbing, and climbing. It started to hail but we carried on, thick Westland forest needs determination. The wind increased. A tree 100 meters to our right came crashing down. it was a real storm now but we knew tomorrow would be fine and better to use this day for travel so we could hunt the good days to come. the cold stung our faces and it got so incredibly steep. We were now passing our packs from one to the other and taking turns to climb. The hail was building up to look all the world like snow. Everything we touched made us wet.
After four hours we reached a point where we looked at each other, we were half way up a 30 meter rock slab hanging onto trees with the river 600 or more meters below us. Half way by our reckoning from the top. Cold, wet, miserable and realising that what was to come was beyond us. reluctantly we turned around and headed home. The river had changed while we were gone  and all Iíd like to say about that was we made it.
We layed a complaint about the chopper and were told that because we could not identify it properly they could not do anything.

Next year we were back. This time we had a boat. A small two man inflatable with outboard. Our idea was to portage were we needed to get far enough upstream to our mountain and use the boat on the easy water and to cross the river. It was a dumb idea and we smashed the motor within a couple of K and couldnt portage the boat due to terrain. We lost a day and went back to town to talk to James Scott about flying us in somewhere. He flew us up the Douglas.  One of the few places a chopper is allowed to land recreational hunters in the national park and very popular. James doesnít say much but he laughed when we told him where we had tried to take a boat, and then turned ad incredulously looked at us when we pointed out where we had climbed the year before. You are crazy he said.
Iíd never been into the Douglas before and it looked a cool spot. We walked up to the lake and spent the evening looking for Tahr and routes up to the tops. With a plan made we got up early next morning and started. At daylight a chopper flew in and shot all the face were were heading for. We went back and hunted and explored the moraine clearings. Some sign and a little glimpse of a chamois that saw us first.
next morning we were up at four again to try another area. At 6.30 as we sat and waited for shooting light the same chopper came in and shot the face we were on. This was how our week went. Every day we got up early, climbed, got beaten by that chopper, slept on the hill for the day, hunted the evening but with little luck and returned to camp after dark each night. Another group of hunters arrived. they knew the area well and had a plan for a big bull. Two of them left to climb a ridge we thought was unclimbable and slept there the night just under the bulls waiting for them to come out next morning. We stayed in camp so that Haha, we didnít ruin things for them by shooting a tahr elsewhere, and watched their efforts through the spotting scope.
We saw their tent and we saw the Tahr emerge and start to head their way. then we heard those dreaded rotors. So did those tahr. They were off. The guys returned to camp. We talked and the one thing to come out of it was that we had a group of people who could identify the chopper. We had them.
Next morning we flew out and headed straight to the Doc office. We sat for two hours  while a staff member took down our evidence and we signed the official complaint.
Later when I rang to find out what action would be taken because I had heard nothing, I was told no complaint existed.
Dave didnít hunt tahr for some years after that, so I had to find other adventurers. Gryphon joined me along with Tim. I had a new idea for that mountain. We carried an inflatable and our packs the 4 hours to the river and crossed. We climbed for 8 hours through the bush and slept under a rock for the night. Next morning we climbed for 6 hours and camped just under the tahr.
It had taken half a day longer than Id thought. Tim and Gryphon got their first Tahr and after the effort and years, I was rapt to take a nice old bull just under 13 inchís as a memento of what it had taken to get here. next morning the chopper from the year before flew over  and buzzed the face above us with no luck. I cheered as for the first time I had beaten him and he got to see our success. We packed and left as the weather was changing and we needed to cross the river, plus id misjudged how long it took to climb the hill, we were running out of time.
We didnít bother calling in to DOC to report his actions.
Ive climbed Mt Misery once since then with some Swedish hunters. They were young and fit and strong beyond belief, yet that river scared them so that I could see the fear on their faces and the mountain tired them so that they told me if they had of understood what i was saying before we left, they would not have come.
A year or so later another Swedish hunter would go missing not far from here and not be found as of yet. Maybe never will. I wonder if it was the mountains, or the river?
We spent four days in the cloud, not able to see. We could hear tahr feeding around us but the fog was so dense that we could not get a shot. Finally Emil picked up his rifle and ran across a valley towards a noise as fast as he could, disappearing into the mist like a mad man. Seconds later a shot rang out and he had a beautiful bull to remember MT Misery by. We had no boat this year and had to cross the river so with bad weather on the way and a terrifying crossing coming up we packed and left for safety.
Ive enjoyed all my time around or on that mountain, even though there has been much frustration and challenge. But at this time as I listen to out minister of conservation talk about hunters not doing their part, and I think back at the road blocks and difficulties placed in our way and the deceit ive seen from her dept i get very angry. I have followed the rules layed out before me BY DOC, and I have tried hard to do my part despite the difficulties and dangers and know there is a much better way to manage this population than the one we have been allowed.
  
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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #1 - Sep 27th, 2018 at 9:57am
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The things we do for fun eh...
Cool report, thanks for posting, glad you survived!
  
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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #2 - Sep 27th, 2018 at 11:12am
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"affectionately get called Mt Misery." - ha, ha, ha ........

I remember the first time I went down that way - caught the DC3 to Westport or Greymouth then bussed down to the Karangarua where we got dropped off just on dark in an absolute pissing down storm. Slept in the first grove of trees with flat ground and no tent and got thoroughly saturated and chewed by mossies.
Next morning my mate had already called it quits and wanted to go home, but we trudged up that valley until he refused to go any further - just sat there and wouldn't budge.
Finding a big slab of rock down by the river we camped under there for the next two weeks - and it took that long for the sleeping bags to dry out.
About two years ago he sent me some photos of that trip and on the back of the 'slab of rock' one were the words - "The Palace."
That trip was 1964 - we weren't much more than kids and that country was so much more than we expected.

That was a good story - and I see your message.
I never saw a thar that whole trip and I climbed into some frightening places that gave me real trouble getting back down - but back then in my head thar was the premium game animal here and I never figured them to come easy.

I did a few trips down that way over the years - but never did get one.



  
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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #3 - Sep 27th, 2018 at 2:50pm
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SF, how I feel is this. Somehow those animals and those places link us. I can imagine your journeys and know something of what you have been through, as I would say can you of mine. Even though I was a long time from being born when you were walking those hills and valleys.
I feel that what we are fighting for is not just some animals, but a way of life, culture and history thats as important as any that exists.
One that should be passed on to future generations in a healthy state.
Would love to see that photo of your palace.
  
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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #4 - Sep 27th, 2018 at 8:00pm
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Yeah, that's pretty much nailed it as to how I feel.

Those animals were roaming our mountains long before I was born and as far as I'm concerned - they belong here.
I've never heard the mountains are falling down any quicker because they are there nor have I heard of any alpine plant becoming extinct because of them.

What they have done is provide healthy exercise and sport for many young people across many generations who choose to tread that country and how they can not be seen as an asset is beyond me.

I've traveled North and South chasing animals for a good part of my life and have seen things I otherwise wouldn't have - and if I was to put the 'why' into words, I would say it's the chase - or possibly more accurately - the 'doing'.
Take those animals away - and you take away purpose.

I have kids, didn't have them until I got old - so they are still young and it's incredibly important to me they can do and see the things I have.
And not just for them - it needs to be preserved for future generations.

I did shoot a chamois on that trip - and very nearly drowned retrieving it.
I shot it across the river, then went back to camp and dragged my mate out - and I'm very glad I did.
Tying a rope around my middle I almost got across that river jumping from rock to rock.
When I went in it was exactly like being in a washing machine - no bottom to it, no top, just a rushing foam of water, then the crash as I hit a rock I managed to cling to. Crawling up that rock I got in a few breaths then was washed away to tumble in the current until I nearly got torn in half by that rope as it went tight.
For ages I seem to hang there being buffeted and bashed by the water, then I felt ground under my feet and managed to crawl out onto a shingle bank - I was stuffed, the pain from that rope being something I'll never forget.

When my mate got to me the first thing he did was cut that rope off me, then he decided to lean on me to see if he could squish water out, so I told him to sod off - which he did in a really shitty manner.

When I did get back to 'The Palace' he told me he'd only saved me because I was wearing his hat, then he told me he couldn't gain an inch on that rope - he'd looped it around a branch and said it was so tight he could have played a tune on it.

Was lucky that day - I think.

A couple of days after that I was up in the hills when I heard a barrage of shots that came from the direction of the camp and wondered if it was him - and what he'd got on to.
Got back in the evening to find he'd hung up all our cooking gear and eating utensils and shot holes through them.

Good mate that - went home the next day.

And after having told you all that - I can honestly say I've never had a bad trip into the bush, not that I remember anyway.

And here's 'The Palace' - someone will recognize it.


  
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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #5 - Sep 28th, 2018 at 6:23am
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Haha, thats a real palace for sure.

Along with all the hard worthwhile things, there are also those silly little memories you look back on and they still make you laugh. Dave and I have started reminiscing since I wrote this.
On one of our earliest trips to the west coast, and not knowing the area, Dave carried a one piece fishing rod strapped to his pack. For 5 hours he walked and every tree, every over hang it got caught. Very soon he was over it and stopped caring and you could hear his progress by the boinggggggg, boingggg as it whipped back in forth. We got in only to find there were no trout in the river and so he had to carry this thing out again unused. Boingggg Boinggg for 5 hours back to the car. With relief he took off his pack and threw the rod in the car saying " didn't think that would survive the trip. My brother closed the car door and snapped it in half. The look on his face. Still makes me laugh 20 years later.
  
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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #6 - Sep 28th, 2018 at 10:05am
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It's all those silly things that make the memories - take them away and it's just another trip.

As a kid our old neighbour from along the road was a hunter and he was the only one I knew who did that. Would see him standing outside his house with his old Snider waiting for his mate to pick him up in the car and I'd go out for a talk and to look at his old gun - and I wanted one.

When I did get one it was the traditional cut down .303 that everyone else was using and I was off and running - sort of.
There was no computer or forums telling you how to do it - so you just went and found out for yourself.

Don't know if they had dedicated gear back then so you just wore surplus army, farmers wool singlets and your mum's knitted jumpers.
There were of course the 'Everest' brand bushshirts and swannis, but they were pretty expensive and it was a while before I could graduate to one of them.
There were good sleeping bags when I started and I got a Fairydown of some sort and the best bit of windproof gear I remember using was my dad's old suit jacket. I cut the sleeves off that because it was a bit cramping and used it as a vest.
Boots were the leather 'John Bull's' with nails and tricounis whacked in. My dad would do that, he did boots and shoes for the whole neighbourhood.

One interesting trip I read was by Bruce Gant (I think) who wrote the 'Sharpshooter' book.
He talked of one of his dad's experience down south where he got caught on a mountainside and had to tie himself to a tree so he didn't fall off the hill during the night.

Joining this forum was a huge eyeopener for me, I assumed hunting was as it always had been - the deer were in the bush and the thar were in the mountains. Then I discovered from reading that people were shooting most of their deer on farm paddocks - and there was a lot of deer on those paddocks.
Took me a while to understand why people wanted to do that - why didn't they want to go in the bush.

I'm okay with it now - we all seek different things.

I've done the fishing rod thing too, got a 4 piece fly rod I never caught a thing on. I remember in the Kaimanawa's chasing quite a big fish in a pool. Chased him on and off for two days and ended up shooting the bugga.

If I have one regret, it is I very seldom took a camera and have very few photos from those days - the ones I do have being mostly given to me by mates.

Have got old now and am a bit limited in what I can do. Have got a spot close to home I can walk to no one else goes - and I take my snider or muzzleloader. There are deer there, I've seen them and I can smell them - and one day I might get one.
Also got fallow on the farm up behind me, but I leave them alone as I sometimes see them looking out the window - and it's just good to watch.


  
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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #7 - Sep 30th, 2018 at 9:18am
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i can empathise with your struggles and triumphs.

i can not imagine your mountains being without tahr and chamois. it would be an empty place without the opportunity to have experiences and create hunting memories that are life changing.

  
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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #8 - Sep 30th, 2018 at 9:49am
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Have enjoyed reading this post and certainly makes one think about what we gain from the mountains as hunters.
Your right guys... its not just about our fantastic game animals, but adventure, memories and unforgettable experiences. That's what its all about.

We lose far more than just Tahr as a result of these culls/ eradication.

As for the Aath choppers and doc versus the recreational hunters.....  I know that feeling oh to well  Angry
  

Just got to keep on chipping away!
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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #9 - Sep 30th, 2018 at 12:47pm
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There were many parts to that first trip South, it was my first ever time on a plane - and the wings on that old thing 'flapped', so much so I had to point it out to the hostess.

I remember the airport we flew into, it had the biggest 'potbelly' stove I ever seen glowing orange in the middle of the airport lounge with people crowded around, stoking it from a big stack of firewood, was bloody cold - Westport, Hokitika - I forget now.

And I remember the old lady I sat next to on the bus. That was a long day as it dropped off groceries all the way down the coast - and she told me stories of her younger days growing up on a small holding her father had scratched out in the bush.
I'm forgetting those stories now, but one she told me still lingers.
Every month on a Saturday her dad would hook up the horse to the buggy and they'd go to town to pick up supplies, coming home Sunday after worship.
Their track out the bush followed a stream and she told me her father would take a pan (gold) of dirt at all the fresh slips and wash it in the river - and they sometimes never got to town as out would come the shovels and her mum would get angry as they had to make do - no fresh supplies.
She would have been talking the late eighteen hundreds/turn of the Century - she was an old lady.

I remember too tossing a coin with my mate as to who got the last of our money to go and see the new movie 'The Sound of Music', while the loser (me) went to the cops to plead for a bunk for the night - and hopefully breakfast.
Ha, ha, ha - they told me to bugger off and sleep on the beach.
Our plane trip home was booked.

And I remember a culler who joined us there as he'd got thrown out of the hotel because his bag of tails had stunk the place out.
They stunk the beach out too - those tails were ripe.

And not least, I remember the bloke who stopped and picked us up in his tiny '34 Ford Coupe - the slowest car on the Coast, and our excitement when we hit a good flat stretch and he told us to 'hang on' as he was going to open her up.
And he did and we got to experience 45 mph for a full two minutes.

And those are all part of the memories and if those thar hadn't been down there - none of that would have happened.



  
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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #10 - Sep 30th, 2018 at 1:01pm
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Good read Shanks.
The boon days of deer recovery were a fairly spartan time in terms of numbers available to the average hunter and helicopters flying overhead with a hook full of carcasses was a reasonably constant norm at times.
Sure do appreciate the numbers available now.   Hard yards for a fair reward is way better than many hard yards for none.
  
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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #11 - Oct 3rd, 2018 at 10:01pm
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It was tough but it was do able,lots of memories from Mt Mizz.
  

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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #12 - Oct 4th, 2018 at 8:33am
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Wish I were younger.
  

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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #13 - Oct 4th, 2018 at 9:44am
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Thats was a good read Shanks. A true grit account of real hunting spirit.  Pretty sad indictment of DOCs attitude.
  

ďWe either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.Ē
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Re: A hunt Report.....
Reply #14 - Oct 4th, 2018 at 4:09pm
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Great read shanks and SF.....Im off tomorow with a few mates for a quiet that hunt on much easier country....dont normally chase them myself but with current goings on thought best to get in and have a go while I still young enough to do so.
  
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