I received a phone call from Greg and it was from London asking if we did guided hunts here at Tripletui. I replied in the affirmative. He went on to say that his girlfriends father Erich was a keen hunter in his homeland in Germany and that as he and his wife Inga would be joining Greg and Stef in New Zealand for Christmas it seemed as if it might be a good idea to include a day hunt as a xmas pressie. We discussed rates and the time Erich would be allotted and the fact that Erich was really keen to experience the Kiwi way of doing things and was not necessarily expecting to shoot an animal.
I explained that at this time of year a night camp would be necessary and that obviously I couldn’t guarantee an animal. I could provide all of the gear that he would need for the trip however. So it was agreed that they would bring him down at midday on new years day and pick him up at midday on the second.
Erich would be from what I have read and been told by Gregg would be the typical European hunter who is steeped in the traditions of hunting and is very respectful of the animals that he hunts. On meeting him I was impressed by the firm handshake and steady eye contact both went a long way to convince me that I would enjoy this man’s company over the next 24 hours.
We rummaged through his clothing and I advised him what to bring and what to leave and we left the property at around one p.m.. The journey passed quickly with Erich filling me in on his general hunting history and way of life in Frankfort. He spoke excellent English.
Three or four hours later we were looking over a tussock clad valley and pondering our next move. I was keen to traverse a few more ridges before making camp and although Erich was nodding his agreement I nevertheless sensed a reluctance in him. I said hey Erich we don’t need to go that far if you think it is too much for you. I would much rather you tell me now that you think it too far than for you to collapse on me further down the track. We can always set up camp here and go hunt the other side of the spur across from us. He seemed to warm to that suggestion so we scouted around for a camping spot and set up our fly and laid out our sleeping bags and generally made camp.
That done and daypacks filled we dropped down to the creek with our water carriers and filled them and left them there for our return. We then carried on up the other side of the creek through waist high tussock and flax to a bush spur leading diagonally out of the valley and up to the exposed tops.
After about forty five minutes of travel we sat down on a small bench with a great view of the opposite side the valley. Erich took off his boots and socks and we spent the time taking in the vistas and glassing the surrounding country. Above was a series of tussock, flax and scrub gullies merging with the main creek and ascending to the unseen tops. Below was the undulating bush line. There were large areas of scree and tussock above this. The sun was behind us and lowering at the end of a long day highlighting the ground to our front . High above the cloud was scudding across the sky propelled by the 60km winds and mist was beginning to eddy down from the tops.
Flowering flax were everywhere and with it were the busy Tuis. They kept us entertained with their flying antics and melodious chirping. Their colourful plumage enhanced and highlighted by the strong light was spectacular and engrossing.
As time went on and the shadows lengthend the insidious mist was more prevalent blotting out the landscape above us at times only to rise and clear moments later.
I was glassing the shadows of the bush line below our position when Erich tapped me around the knees and pointed in the direction of two animals making their way out of the creek above us onto a scrub filled spur.
They were chamois. We exchanged the Lecia 8x20 binos a few times as the animals climbed steadily and away from us. The rangefinder initially called the range at 260 meters. I asked Erich if he wanted to shoot or if he wanted to stalk them.
He said he would like to stalk and if we didn’t get them then so be it. The second animal took an age to disappear from sight and we waited patiently finally he disappeared into the shallow gut.
Erich meanwhile was struggling to get into his boots and socks. Eventually suited and booted we then dropped down into the creek and the plan was use it for cover and to mask any noise we might make. The curtain of mist fell again dropping visability to sixty yards or so as we laboured upwards.
Some ten minutes or so later after climbing numerous small waterfalls I was slightly in front of Erich and I came to a halt. I could vaguely make out a shape up ahead that looked very much like one of our boys. Sure enough as the mist parted the animal could be seen on a small rock browsing with his head facing up hill and away from us. I quickly took off my day pack and laid it just out of the water in the creek bed and beckoned Erich up to where I was standing. No matter how he positioned himself he couldn’t make out where the animal was and couldn’t find a comfortable position to shoot anyway. The minutes ticked by as I desperately tried to get him comfortable and for him to take in the chamois form.
I lay down alongside him and repositioned the pack he then rested his left elbow on my back [he his a lefty] and sighted in on the animal I plugged my ears with my fingers. Upon the shot I raised my head in time to see the chammy peal of the rock face and drop into the creek. Meanwhile Erich had ejected my prized Lapua case into the ether and was ready for the follow up. The recoil had disturbed his sight picture and he hadn’t seen what I had.
I reassured him that the animal was down but even so it was two tense hunters who climbed up to retrieve the prize and it wasn’t until we were almost on top of him that he materialised into the inert form of our hopes.
A broad grin crossed Erich’s face and I congratulated him on his fine shot and humane kill. We took the backsteaks and 8 1/4” hooks a fine representative head for someone who had not even seen one before this day. I will organise the bleached skull look and ship it to Germany when it is completed.
A quick photo shoot in the gloom and it was a hurried departure as the night was closing in quickly. We arrived back at camp tired but satisfied in complete darkness.