An Off-Beat Scrub Bull Hunt In New Zealand


Published: April - 2008

Scrub bulls are feral cattle without game status that can be hunted pretty much at will. Well, it seems there is a little-known herd of them on the North Island of New Zealand, and from what correspondent Greg Morton says, they are more challenging and aggressive than one might expect. He writes : This small population of shorthorn scrub cattle is descended from domestic cattle abandoned in the early 20th Century by farmers who gave up trying to eke out an existence in the more remote parts of the country. Years later, most of these animals were rounded up and slaughtered, but some landowners decided to protect them. Outfitter Ray Potroz of Upclose Safaris offers hunts for scrub bulls on a property in the Moeawatea Valley, which backs onto thousands of hectares of uninhabited forest, scrub and undulating terrain. The valley itself is a mixture of forest and open grassland clearings. In addition to wild cattle, the valley has fallow deer, wild goat and a few wild pigs. The fallow deer herd is in its infancy, but on a recent visit I saw over 50 young bucks in just two days, so things bode well for the future.

The wild cattle live in several territorial mobs sprinkled throughout the valley system. Depending on the time of year, groups may be in mixed herds, cow-and-calf groups, young-bull groups or older-bull groups. There's also the possibility of encountering an old, solitary bull that has been kicked out of the herd. Much like their buffalo cousins, these animals can be troublesome. During my visit I saw at least 70 scrub cows and 12 bulls, three of which were trophy animals. New Zealand wild bulls have short, thick horns, solid necks, powerful shoulders, lean build and hindquarters, mainly black pelt and long tail.

Wild cattle in this valley are accustomed to seeing quad bikes, but a human on foot will send them fleeing for cover. The best bulls live in the more remote parts of the valley. In late November and December the bulls begin rutting, become very territorial and aggressive, and establish large........(continued)

 
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