Writeup #4 - South Canterbury Tahr Rut

  • 16 May 2018
  • Matt Vincent

The car was packed on Wednesday evening for a quick getaway after work on Thursday. Coco and I spent Thursday night in Christchurch and after getting food and gas we were off on Friday morning. Getting to the empty carpark and made the cold walk in.

We dropped of some of our food at a hut where we were going to meet up with the sister (Lizzie) and her partner (Fraser) the next day, after a long day of walking we were knackered when we reach the saddle just on dark. I still had to dig the icy snow out a little to set the tent up properly. After a night of not quite being warm enough we woke to an almost windless and perfectly clear day.

From the tent I glassed and spotted a big mob of tahr about 3kms away grazing on the tussock while Coco was running around in the snow. We decided to leave the excess gear on the saddle and took off after them. We made our way down a snowy stream in the tussock glassing as we went. We had spotted 3 younger animals up on the hill beside us that we carried on past.

Halfway to the large mob Coco spotted 3 more animals down in the creek who took off round a big face to our left. It didn’t take much glassing to realise that these tahr were off to join another medium sized mob and that there were some good bulls in that group, so we made a plan to get in closer.

The country was big open country making it hard to get close, so we dropped down to the creek. Mostly out of sight this got us into about 340 meters. There was a little knob on a bend in the creek that allowed for a good rest for and accurate shot. Coco patiently waited while I set up the spotting scope on what looked to be a reasonable bull, did a few dry fires to ensure I was not going to pull the shot and then let rip with tahr taking off everywhere.

The bullet went straight through the shoulder of a nice bull with the shock causing him to drop and role down the hill. It looked like he was dead before he finished sliding down the snowy slope. With time tight to get back to meet the others we quickly took the back steaks and legs along with the head which measured just over 12 inches.

With the pack full we hurried back round the face trying to keep our height back to the saddle. The foot-deep snow melting in the sun made the 2km back to our gear hot, wet and hard work. From the saddle it was roughly 2kms and a drop of 500m back to the hut where we were late but arrived slightly before the others. Following Lizzie and Fraser's arrival 2 others also arrived after hunting their way up the frozen river shooting their first tahr along the way. We coordinated our evening hunt and went opposite ways. We didn't get more than 300m were we could see into a scrubby gut that had bulls and nanny’s grazing.

Lizzie let rip nailing a bull who after stopping briefly on a clay slope slid off a bluff system that made recovery impossible. After batting thick matagouri we were not able to find the bull or continue down the cliff. Getting dark and the risk to our lives of looking further we made our way back to the hut where we cooked up tahr steaks and Coco got cuddles by the fire with the girls who also had an unsuccessful hunt.

The following morning we continued past last night’s spot over a ridge that enabled us to see a series of faces. Fraser was about to let a shot off but it the time it took to attempt to get it on camera the bull had moved out of range. It probably been another non-retrievable bull anyway. We glassed and waited for a few hours, but nothing came or was spotted in range. By mid after we were very cold and hungry, so we headed back to the hut before an evening hunt.
As the girls had headed home, we decided hunt round where they had been. We moved around the tussock faces in a valley that curved back in a way meaning we could never see very far. After about 1km of walking Fraser spotted and shot a bull in a small group of tahr no more than 20 meters away.

In the fading light the bull took off after taking 2 good shots. He can't have gone far but as darkness fell searching for him in the high tussock turned nothing up. Even with the dog who only turned up a possum we couldn't find it, so we made our way back to the hut in the dark.

With only half a day for hunting on Monday morning we got going early back the same way as the night before. Still couldn’t find the bull but Fraser took a lone juvenile for meat the meat.

Can't wait to get back there next year!!

Thanks for reading. If you have a story and would like it published please get in touch.

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