I recently returned from a wonderful New Zealand adventure with my wife and two teenage daughters. We spent the first 3 days of our 16-day excursion with Glad and Terry Pierson of New Zealand Wildlife Safaris. I hunted and my wife and daughters recreated.
While hunting with the Piersons, I harvested two chamois, a tahr and a fallow - all free range. Attached is a story about one of the chamois and the fallow. Please feel free to use some, all or none of this story in the Hunting Report. Also included are pictures of these animals and a Hunting Report Form.
As you may know, Mr. Pierson has access to exceptional free-range animals. One must charter a helicopter to access the tahr and chamois. Above average to exceptional fallow can be found in the low lying meadows surrounding their beautiful homestead adjacent to the Von River on their 100,000 acre Mt. Nicholas Station.
Hunting with the Piersons is relatively affordable and if one is and adequate marksman, an average to exceptional free-range trophy is almost assured; regardless of one's physical ability. Additionally, the Piersons have some very good elk and red deer in a 3,000 acre high fenced hunting block. Again, these animals can be obtained for the proper price ($6,000.00 and $3,500.00 respectively) without expending the traditional Rocky Mountain effort for either of these two species. These prices apply to any size animal you can find their lush hunting block.
Comfortable accommodations are on Mt. Nicholas Station in an old homestead situated on the shores of Lake Wakitipu. My wife and I stayed in the honeymoon annex immediately adjacent to the main house. Or teenage girls enjoyed their own rooms next door. The view from every window was stunningly beautiful with huge bay windows facing the lake and the remarkable mountain range. Each view was postcard perfect.
Food was exceptional and fine New Zealand wines complimented every meal. Although I have only been to New Zealand once, I highly recommend New Zealand Wildlife Safaris to anyone contemplating a hunt to New Zealand, Especially if the hunter is seeking better than average to exceptional free range trophies and/or was not as conditioned as most of us were in our glorious youth; and did not mind paying a little extra for increased and easy mobility, animal availability and more than comfortable accommodations and surroundings.
Likewise, New Zealand Wildlife Safaris would be extremely ideal for the person, couple or small family that was interested I taking very god free range specimens of most or all of the New Zealand big game species; plus better than representative elk and red deer within their 3,000 acre hunting block; in a safe and comfortable environment with mature, experienced host, guides and outfitter that understands the physical limitations of most middle aged to aging international big game hunters and who will expertly tailor a hunting itinerary to suite anyone with a better than average budget and zeal for SCI acclaim.
Indications of the Piersons' cliental are the numerous entries in the SCI record book of many of their current and former hunters who, before, during or after hunting with the Piersons, became Weatherby award winners or were otherwise recognized as outstanding men or women hunters by SCI and other sporting organizations.
Of course I am neither in the same class as these other hunters, nor will I ever be however, it was very interesting to see pictures of Weatherby Award winners in their homestead and read their names several times in the record books as having been guided by Terry Pierson and New Zealand Wildlife Safaris.
Chamzilla and the Shallow Fallow
The tahr was jumping from crag to crag and was almost around the summit by the time the helicopter dropped us in the valley below. Terry implored me to shoot, which I did, busting rock under its flowing mane. The bull continued its escape and was almost to the next drainage when Terry ordered me to shoot again. The little .257 hit the bull on the front shoulder, knocking it down and sending the massive fur ball tumbling down the mountain. The story of Chamzilla and the Shallow Fallow began at the 2001 Houston Safari Club Annual Convention. On Saturday night at the live auction I purchased a New Zealand tahr hunt that was graciously donated to HSC by Terry and Glad Pierson of New Zealand Wildlife Safaris. As many of you know, Terry and Glad are long time supporters of HSC and their client list is a veritable Who's Who of the truly outstanding hunters and huntresses of HSC and SCI.
For some unknown reason I have been enamored by the short, stocky, long-haired, goat-like denizen of the rocky crags and precipices of New Zealand's Southern Alps. Imported into New Zealand from the private herd of the English Duke of Bedfore in 1904 and 1909, (the Duke's herd was originally obtained from India's Himalayan Mountains a few years earlier), the New Zealand tahr (spelled "Tahr" in New Zealand) colonized well in the mountainous regions of New Zealand and established itself as a legitimate big game animal in a spectacular country whose current government considers these beautiful animals vermin; pets to be shot on sight and left to rot in the dry New Zealand highlands. What a pity too, since ostensibly New Zealand is the perfect place for the Himalayan mountain goat to live without fear of the wholesale slaughter this unusual animal experienced in Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, India and Tibet. Nevertheless, under a draconian doctrine known as the Himalayan Tahr Management Policy, the New Zealand government pays shot gunning mercenaries to helicopter over trespassing bands of nannies, kids and bullies and lay waste to the whole lot. According to the New Zealand Department of Conservation (NZDOC), tahr should be strictly limited to arbitrarily determined low numbers and confined to certain, specific tahr areas. If the NZDOC believes that tahr are too numerous or certain animals escape their invisible boundaries, the New Zealand government spends tax dollars to assassinate these "excess" bands of tahr. The carcasses are then left to rot on the side of the mountain. What a waste.
Anyway, a tahr hunt with Glad and Terry Pierson is what originally seduced me to book a flight to New Zealand. Chamzilla and the Shallow Fallow were afterthoughts, spawned from an interest in other mountain animals (Chamois) and an impulsive, shallow desire to rewrite the SCI record books (the shallow fallow).
My philosophy in buying donated hunts is to achieve a triple win for all parties. The intended beneficiary (in this case HSC) should receive reasonable value for the donation; the buyer (me) should receive a quality hunt at a fair price; and the donor/outfitter (Glad and Terry Pierson) should be able to expect the buyer to upgrade and add more animals or otherwise show financial appreciation to the donor/outfitter for supporting these worthwhile organizations with their valuable donations. This self-induced philosophy is why I try to upgrade every donated hunt I purchase, if possible and within reason. My tahr hunt was no exception.
Fortunately, I had not hunted chamois before and was eager to upgrade to include this diminutive animal. However, unfortunately for Glad and Terry, I had taken way too many elk (Wapiti in New Zealand) and had no desire to harvest another, especially if I could not return home with the succulent tenders. Also, I am continuing a self-induced withdrawal from elk hunting and did not want to hunt a red stag (which I subconsciously viewed as a strange-looking, non-typical elk.) Furthermore, I had absolutely no interest in hunting a fallow deer, having passed on numerous high quality free-range fallow bucks on several properties I hunted in the past. As a result, my upgrade (and my appreciation to Gald and Terry for their generous donation) was to add a chamois.
Mt. Nicholas Station
This decided, my family and I boarded a plane and headed to Queenstown where we were met by a limo driver hired by Terry and Glad and taken by van to the Steamship Wharf to board the 100', 1904 "T.S.S. Earnslaw" for the 45 minute ride across Lake Wakitipu to Walter Peak Station. There we were met by Terry in his shiny new Range Rover and driven 7-8 miles to his homestead on Mt. Nicholas Station.
What a truly spectacular place! Words cannot describe the magnificent view of the lake, mountains, hills, valleys, and fields-all from the several bay windows in Glad's well kept home! The resplendent lawn and multitude of colorful flowers were amazing. My wife was envious of the gardens and I was overwhelmed by the serenity and size of the 100,000-arce estate. The tremendous scenery around Mt. Nicholas Station and our hosts' fastidious hospitality made the entire trip worthwhile-yet there was hunting to do.
After unloading our gear and getting the girls settled in, Terry and I went to check my firearms. Mysteriously, during three plane changes and 30 hours of international travel, my rifle was printing only 4" right at 25 yards. After making proper adjustments and firing an insurance round, we returned to the house to pick up the girls for a drive through the lower meadows. It did not take long to spot 5 huge elk, well within range and completely oblivious to Terry's pretty new Range Rover with cameras thrust from every window. For a recovering "elkaholic" it was horrific torture to watch these magnificent animals meandering through the bush whilst a fully adequate firearm lay encased between the two front seats. The smile on Terry's face and the gleam in his eyes was priceless-and foreboding.
A little while later, Terry eased his Range Rover onto a grassy hill to survey a portion of his domain. Scattered in almost every direction were fallow deer - lots and lots of fallow deer - mostly bucks in bunches of predominately bachelor herds, sparring and running and generally having a sporting good time. Again, Terry's eye got that Scottish gleam of devilish design that unbeknownst to me, foretold of hunts for theretofore-unconsidered animals.
As the sun set behind the mountains, the wind rose and the temperature sank. We returned to the homestead - jet-lagged, cold, tired, and famished. Glad rescued the girls with hot chocolate. Terry forced me to drink his best scotch (to keep my temperature regulated.) On July 3, 2003, four warm weather Texans stood by the fireplace and slowly enjoyed their prescribed elixirs. Shortly, after regaining our appropriate body temperatures and topping off our thermal regulators, we gathered at the table for a tremendous gourmet dinner complimented with exquisite New Zealand wines. Life was grand.
After a decadent dessert, the adults watched the weather lady on T.V. Although she was very pretty, as most weather ladies are, she was not being nice; making all kinds of noise about blizzards and ice and snow, gale-force winds and sub-zero temperatures. She was obviously being a pest. Nevertheless, since we were scheduled to helicopter up the mountain the next day, Terry watched this pesky little weather lady with great interest. All of us went to bed and prayed for nice weather.
At daybreak, Terry turned on the T.V. and Glad peered out the window. The fog was Houston-thick but the morning weather lady was trying to be nice. Unfortunately, she was having a hard time because the weather was not cooperating and the "expert" prognosticators could not figure out what the weather was going to do. Of course, the weather lady did an amiable job of telling us it was snowing like Christmas in Iceland everywhere in New Zealand except where we were. With helicopters being very expensive and susceptible to gale force winds, blizzards, and of course, white-outs, Terry did not want to charter the helicopter unless there was a reasonable probability we could fly and hunt. Sounded good to me. I ate a hearty breakfast and went to sleep.
An hour later Terry knocked on the door and announced the helicopter was on its way. The large bay window in the guest suite revealed an incredible picture - unbelievable blue skies and not a cloud anywhere. According to Terry (and the NOW nice weather lady), the storm hit the East side of the South island, split in half, and went completely around Mt. Nicholas Station and the immediate area. Time to load up and go.
The helicopter met us in a meadow below the homestead and after polite introductions and safety instructions (don't shoot the helicopter, etc.); we flew 5 minutes into the mountains. Almost immediately we saw bulls, all scampering to escape from hovering predator. We continued our trek and flew over a couple glaciated drainages. Several minutes later, Terry spied a lone bull tahr prancing across the face of another precipice. Confirming with the helicopter pilot that this bull required a closer look, the heli swooped to the bottom of the valley and offloaded Terry and his eager hunter. We crouched to protect ourselves from the rotor wash, and then watched the heli back out of the way.
The second shot broke the tahr's shoulders and sent it tumbling down the mountain. The heli returned to get Terry and they flew up the mountain to retrieve the tahr. With the heli hovering over the immobile goat, Terry scampered out of the passenger seat and balanced himself on the heli's skid. With the finesse of a highly trained paratrooper, he jumped to the ground and secured the tahr with a rope - one end looped around the tahr's neck and the other end attached to the heli's skid. Terry then scrambled onto the hovering heli and the heli, tahr, and Terry flew down the mountain to meet a very excited hunter. Once on the ground, we loaded the tahr into the fiberglass pod on the heli skid. Then off we went in search of Chamois. Whoa, this beats getting in a deer stand any day.
Ten minutes later we were WAY up the mountain searching for chamois. We saw even more spectacular scenery and several bunches of chamois, again mostly does, fawn, and small bucks, before locating group of a half-dozen chamois and what looked like a mature bull. Again the heli off-loaded us on a small bench and backed out of the way. With the heli departing, the chamois started running - right at us. Terry directed my attention to the bull bringing up the rear and told me to shoot. I did, and Terry went to get it. It was a nice, mature, representative chamois with heavy, but short horns. Before Terry finished dragging the buck to the waiting heli, he told me we would try for a bigger one. It was right about this time that I was really beginning to like this guy a lot.
Terry loaded the chamois into the pod and off we helied in search of Chamzilla. Again, after 10 minutes of seeing numerous does, fawns and smaller bucks, Terry spied a lone buck hiding tight to a vertical rock on the side of another precipitous mountain. Almost immediately, we did an inverted heli turn (well maybe not inverted, but it WAS tight and very fast). After completing our heli turn, we hovered over the invisible chamois, admiring his headgear from a tactical position (assuming we were going to take him with a couple skid-mounted sidewinders). After minimal debate, Terry and I offloaded on a snow-covered bench a little below and behind the chameleon chamois. Again the heli backed down the valley to get a better perspective of the stalk. From where we were standing, we could no longer see the chamois. Terry radioed the pilot for confirmation of its current location. The chamois had not moved an inch. Anticipating that the chamois might burst out of its hiding place and scamper around the face of the mountain, we quickly maneuvered into position for a shot. This put us approximately 80 yards and almost perpendicular from where we thought the unsuspecting chamois was laying. Unfortunately, from our position, all I could see was the head, horns, and ears of a motionless chamois buck. The remainder of the animal, from my perspective, remained hidden by a snowdrift. Unbelievably, Terry told me to shoot the chamois at the base of the head, just below the jaw. What? "Excuse me," I blurted, "Are you sure that will be all right? What about the horns? What if I hit one of the horns and break it?" The taxidermist can fix it, just shoot!"
Hmmm. Earlier in the day, Terry told me to take a running shot on a prancing tahr. I "knew" I could not make that shot (but did), so, with a little hesitation I wrapped into my sling and took careful, off-hand aim at the buck's lower jaw. (I could not see any lower because I am only 5'6" and Terry is well over 6'). I lost sight of the chamois in the recoil and felt that if I somehow connected, I must have obliterated the head and sent its little horns flying. Almost immediately, the chamois leapt out if its hiding place. However, instead of running around the mountain, it catapulted from rock to rock - directly at us. At first it was difficult to maintain aim on the bouncing buck. However, when it closed the distance to approximately 30-40 yards (with my scope still at 14 power,) I shot what looked like an attacking Chamzilla in self-defense. Smacked it right in the chest in mid bounce. Down it went in a heap of diminutive splendor. Terry was pleased.
When I saw this chamois up close, I could tell it was bigger than the first chamois. However, it was more until we loaded it into the pod and compared it with the first chamois that I realized how much bigger it was. I am not a good judge of different kinds of animals; however, when we compared the two chamois, my initial reaction was that the first chamois was "TinyCham" or (hopefully) the second chamois was "Chamzilla." All sly Terry would say at the moment was that the second chamois was very nice.
Our return flight to the homestead generated more excitement as Terry and the pilot reconnoitered for tahr and chamois in the craggy bluffs and crevices of the precipitous ridges and bluffs of the beautiful mountains behind Terry's 100,000-acre station. Life could not get any better than this.
Landing at the homestead, we thanked the pilot and took the animals to the cleaning station at the lakeshore to hang and cool. We then had lunch and returned to the cleaning station to skin, cape and prepare the trophies. The detail work on three animals took Terry the rest of the afternoon, with me bugging out an hour early to take a shower and get ready for dinner. Incidentally, while skinning the second chamois, we discovered that my first shot center-punched a precise .25-caliber hole through the exact center of the base of one of its ears! In itself, this wound was not fatal; however, it directly led to the chamois' demise. I guess this is what Terry had intended. That sly ole' dog.
Dinner was a celebratory extravaganza of expertly prepared culinary delights, served with the most fantastic New Zealand wines imaginable. Truly, life could not get better than this.
But then came desert, where Terry informed us that although the first chamois was a nice, representative trophy, the second chamois was indeed Chamzilla with only 13 other New Zealand chamois officially ranked higher in the SCI record book! Wow, tell this chamois was really nice. Moreover, it was a very pretty trophy taken under fair chase in a beautiful environment, which should be all that matters. I had no idea that it would rank number 14! Terry opened another bottle of Glad's fine New Zealand wine and we celebrated into the night.
Unbelievable. The first day of hunting on a three-day excursion was more than I could imagine. Nevertheless, when the topic of discussion that evening centered around a potential new number one free-range fallow buck that Terry said he had repeatedly seen on his station, I became gleefully intrigued (my wife says intoxicated) with the possibility of hunting another magnificent trophy; even though I had absolutely no desire whatsoever to hunt a fallow deer anywhere in the world. In retrospect, it is patently obvious I succumbed to the revelry of the station. With two days left to hunt with very personable hosts on beautiful and magnificent land, I overwhelmingly agreed to hunt for "Mr. Big" with the understanding that if I got a chance at the new, number one free-range fallow buck, I would try to take him. If not, I would return home fallow-less.
The next morning we left the homestead and drove to the section of the station where Terry said he had last seen Mr. Big. We saw mobs of fallow and numerous respectable bucks. However, unfortunately Mr. Big remained hidden on Terry's 100,000-arce station. That afternoon was a virtual repeat of the morning hunt. With the next morning being our last opportunity, Terry altered his strategy to hopefully put us in position to ambush Mr. Big as h left the lower meadows on his anticipated trek to safety.
Early the following morning we left the homestead and drove to the section of the station where Terry thought Mr. Big would be grazing. This time we stopped short of the targeted meadows and walked a half-mile to a small rise overlooking a pasture along the lake. Immediately, Terry spied several fallow bucks with on buck appearing larger that others. The bucks sensed our presence and milled about but remained within range.
While we watched the congregation, Terry whispered to me to shoot the buck on the right. For some unexplained reason, I respectfully asked Terry if the buck he instructed me to shoot was Mr. Big. Terry's pained response was simple and urgent: "Shoot it before it gets away". Assured that I was about to put my guide in the record book, I steadied the .257 over a rock with the designated fallow in the crosshairs and gently squeezed the trigger. Through the scope, I could see the fallow fold and roll over.
Euphoric, we sat motionless on the tussock and watched the sun rise over Lake Wakitipu and the Remarkables mountains. It was surreal.
The walk to the Range Rover was energetic and peaceful. I came to Mt. Nicholas Station to hunt tahr and chamois and after shooting the new number 14 chamois, was convinced to lay claim to the new number one free-range fallow buck. Life really does not get better than this!
Murphy Makes a Visit
Well, as you might have guessed, my old pal Murphy made a visit and coldly reassured me that my luck as a hunter was NOT directly proportional to the fun and excitement I glean from my efforts and experiences afield. To be sure, Mr. Murphy must have laughed when Terry told me over lunch that not only was this fallow NOT the new number one world record, it was not even in the top 10, 20, or 30, but was instead the new number 44 free-range New Zealand fallow, barring of course the harvest of any larger bucks this year.
I was humbled. I should have been satisfied with taking a respectable tahr and a bruiser Chamzilla. I wasn't and I paid the price - a trophy fee of $2,000.00 to be exact - for an animal that I theretofore had no interest in taking. Was the fallow shallow? Not hardly.
Even though this nice fallow buck was not the new number one free-range fallow as advertised, it was a decent animal and would have scored much higher, had it not lost all of its top points on its left palm from fighting. Actually to be perfectly blunt, I was the shallow one for allowing myself to shoot an animal that I had absolutely no interest in taking. That, of course, is the price I paid for impulsively re-arranging my hunting priorities to accommodate a misplaced objective. To his credit, Terry did not charge me for the first chamois and he charged me only half the daily rate for my two daughters. I am appreciative of this kind gesture.
I had a fantastic and wonderful hunt with Terry and Glad, in spite of the misalignment of my internal compass. Moreover, (and more importantly), my wife and children had a wonderful vacation and thoroughly enjoyed Glad's pampering. The Piersons are fabulous hosts and are rightly proud of their New Zealand heritage and stunningly beautiful country. Terry is the ultimate professional hunter. He impressed me with his knowledge of the land and his respect for the animals he hunts. Glad is a FANTASTIC cook and the ultimate hostess. She was very cordial, caring and friendly.
The Pierson's live on Mt. Nicholas Station on the shore of Lake Wakitipu. Their homestead and adjoining guest suite are typical ranch house design with huge bay windows facing the lake and the Southern Alps. The view from every room is picturesque. The view from anywhere on the station is overwhelmingly beautiful.
I highly recommend New Zealand Wildlife Safaris to anyone looking for an enjoyable New Zealand experience. Glad and Terry have access to some phenomenal free-range animals, while their estate hunts for Elk and Wapiti are for better-than-average animals with no add-on fees for higher-scoring animals. They also have access to some fantastic fishing, waterfowl and upland bird shooting. For more detailed information on a spectacular New Zealand hunting and outdoor experience, you may contact Terry and Glad at The homestead, Von River Valley, P.O. Box 1257, Queenstown 9197, New Zealand. Their phone and facsimile numbers are (64 3) 442-7727 and (64 3) 442-7710 respectfully. Their information web site is www.nz-wildlife-safaris.com and their e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also meet Terry and Glad in person at the Houston Safari Club Convention in January 2004 at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott, The Woodlands, Texas.
Until then, g'day mate and happy hunting.