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Tahr hunting
Jun 13th, 2019 at 1:01am
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I have moved down to the South Island this year and I am keen to have a crack at hunting tahr. Iíve been able to make a few days available mid July but I am wondering what kind of alpine gear is necessary to hunt at this time of year. I have been considering hunting black birch creek off the rangitata. I simply have no idea what environment I will be in, if there will be heavy snowfall underfoot or if the risk of avalanche is high. I will go on an alpine course later in the year but I was wondering if anyone knew if this was a good place to start hunting tahr with minimal experience and if it will be doable around the middle of July. I just want to see them, let alone shoot a bull. Any help or advice would be much appreciated!
Many thanks,
Reuben Smiley
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Re: Tahr hunting
Reply #1 - Jun 13th, 2019 at 7:25am
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This is a post from a very experienced hunter Josh, cut and pasted from the other forum.  Full of excellent advice.

Advice is to glass lots - take a piece of foam bed roll to sit on so your arse doesn't freeze.

Morning and evenings are critical times to be in position for animals moving to and from feeding country. There's been culling through those areas for yonks, so the tahr become pretty wary of machine activity, so you won't see many through the day time. If you spot animals coming to a spot on the first evening, get in a position on the second to ambush them. They'll come back to that area normally.

The older/bigger bulls generally won't always be away up high, they're not that silly. Glass the scrub belts, fingers of bush edge etc. That said, you will see tahr up high, you don't necessarily have to chase them away up there. Last time I hunted the areas you've mentioned there were good bulls in the scrub, and they retreated there as soon as the first sightseeing machine flew over.

The bulls will follow the nannies around at this time of year, so if you find nannies, take your time to check for bulls rather than just have a bomb up on the nannies.

Take warmer clothing than you think you'll need, a decent down puffer under a good jacket is key. Take good gloves, hard to glass when your hands are stinging/burning with cold and you're shaking like a leaf.

Do take an ice axe minimum, do check out on youtube how to self arrest. Take a day course if you can, or get an experienced person to give you some tips. Better to have that equipment than not, as you may at some point on a tahr hunt find yourself in a precarious situation and need to climb down safely. An axe may save your life if you have a slip, which means carry it in your hand, not on your pack. Two points of contact on the ground at all times.

I do carry crampons but have only used them once to retrieve a tahr. I avoid going into situations where I think they'd be needed. That said, I have been caught out retrieving tahr and been thankful to have the option of using them.

As said, rope can be handy - not to assist you on a slope, but more to lower packs over big rocks or down steeper faces, or tie a animal to a bush to hold it while you cut it up/skin it etc. Don't go abseiling without the experience obviously.

Remember a south facing slope will freeze earlier in the day - so be wary of routes to the tops up a south face that you may take mid day. They can be treacherous on the way back down later in the day.

And a north facing slope covered in snow can get quite soft and risk of movement increases. Travelling in deep soft snow is a bitch anyway. Tahr don't like soft deep snow, so I generally avoid it.

Watch your mates backs for rolling stones/rocks as ground thaws or tahr travel above you, or you travel above your mates etc

If you find a good route to the tops, and plan on coming off in the dark, use the same route, don't opt for a shortcut. Ideally mark your route with GPS, I have been caught out in the fog/cloud and in the dark without a GPS on the way home and it's not a nice feeling.

Keep your PLB on your body, not in a pack. Take two forms of light and spare batteries.

The Reardon hut is cold. I'd almost opt to camp out on the flats across the valley to try get some sun. You'll see tahr from the hut/that general area, its a wicked valley.

Try and keep your boots dry, they will freeze solid if you don't. Sleep with your rifle, or at least cover the scope and check too make sure it is clear of condensation or frost before you leave camp.

Have fun, know your limitations and assess risks before you charge up after a bull. Tahr hunting in the bigger alpine country is very addictive. I wish I had more time to do more these days.
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