What is it like to head to one of your dream places on your hunting bucket list? I’m Johnny Kennedy of Double Lung Outdoors, and I can tell you – it’s far beyond what I expected. Rick & Carla Frazier and I headed off to hunt with the Alpine Hunting guide folks in New Zealand with Shane Quinn (and a host of other support people).
Day one had us on a plane leaving Dallas Love Field heading to San Francisco … followed by another 13 hour air trip to Auckland New Zealand. We caught a small plane to Palmerston where our guide picked us up. He took us to the Alpine Hunting Lodge – about two hours of driving, but the drive was beautiful and the country is breath-taking. One thing we knew for sure – we were glad we weren’t driving since the steering wheel is on the wrong side for us Americans! We laughed a lot knowing how many wrong turns down the wrong side of the road and wrong directions we would have been headed if we had been driving. Most likely we would have been stopped and checked for looking like a DUI driver! The roads were extremely curved, we were going around hills everywhere we went.
We finally arrived at our destination and were greeted by everyone there. We were assigned our rooms and settled in. After a few refreshments we were off to do some scouting and saw lots of gorgeous red stag, fallow deer and awapawa sheep. We had a great afternoon with an excellent meal at the lodge … then it was time to catch up on sleep.
Day two dawned with Rick and myself looking for sika deer while Carla decided to take a rest day and enjoy the scenery. New Zealand has some of the largest sika deer in the world, we were feeling good after seeing many of size, but not of the size we were looking for. Later in the afternoon we found him – a great 5×5 non-typical sika. After stalking him over the rim a mountain we were positioned for Rick to make the shot with his McWhorter Muzzleloader at 225 yds. Sika down! Now came the hard work – getting to our kill and getting it out. It was a chore in the high mountain range we were in, but we got r done!
Day three found us catching a small Cessna and flying off for a three hour flight to Fox Glacier to hunt tahrs (wild ancient goat) and chamios (antelope-like goat).
We landed in a beautiful small town tucked away between mountains with large glaciers and beautiful lakes on all sides. Fortunately for us, we would be in a helicopter flying the deep gorges and steep mountains in one ourselves. Around 4pm Carla and I climbed into the helicopter with Steven (our pilot) and Scotty (our guide) and took off to the top of the mountains in search of the incredible tahr. It wasn’t long before we spotted a huge, lone black tahr on the side of a slope.
Our pilot did a 180 and zipped down to the closest ledge. Scotty and Carla got out of the chopper and were working on getting a shot at the tahr. As the pilot and I backed off so they could try to get closer to the beast, the winds were whipping through the deep ravines. It was tough filming … trying to keep the camera going as they worked to get on the tahr.
It was not to be – the elusive, quick-traveling tahr escaped into thick brush. Steven and I got close enough for Carla and Scotty to get back on board and headed off to find some other targets. After about 30 minutes, we located three more heading down the mountain and we swooped in, letting Carla out to get her second chance at a tahr.
We pulled away and I saw the tahr heading across the mountainside at a dead run only stopping for a second or two looking back to Carla. She dropped into her shooting position … and was able to make an awesome shot on a great buck tahr. This was her first tahr and first experience hunting tahr, in addition to her first time riding in a helicopter and standing on the side of a mountain to make this happen!
Its hard to express the experience and excitement of this hunt. Carla made a great shot and made this a great adventure. She said “his was an awesome experience and glad she was able to get a tahr… but not too excited about all the dipping and diving in a helicopter, and it would be her last time! We laughed and congratulated her on an exciting hunt and adventure .. but she was very happy when her feet finally hit level ground!!
Since Carla had gotten her tahr, Rick wanted to hunt for chamios. We loaded back into the helicopter, and off we went on another high-flying adventure. This time, we flew to a different area where chamios were more prevalent. It was rainy and foggy early, making scouting the canyons for the chamios a challenge. We eventually found an opening, ducked down into the mouth of a long canyon and spotted a solid chamios. So now … the adventure begins!
Again we lowered the chopper down to a ledge for Rich and Scotty to get out so Rick could take a shot at his chamios. As I watched and filmed from the chopper I could tell it was extremely hard for Rich and Scotty to maneuver around the uneven and rocky country, but they were stealthy and going to make it happen. Finally, Rick was able to get a shot and connected!. Flying in deep canyons, over mountain passes and beautiful frozen glaciers is a breath-taking experience I will relive over and over again.
Rick woke up day five and decided he wanted to go after the very rare south pacific whitetail. Our guides knew they were at the end of the island out of Queenstown so we loaded into the Cessna and were off again for a hour and a half flight. Rick and Carla were celebrating their anniversary and decided to take a couple days relaxing and enjoying the country when we arrived. Let me tell you … this place was simply gorgeous and they had more stuff to do than you can wrap your brain around! Just even walking around the town you couldn’t take in all you wanted to see.
After the relaxation period was over we headed out to hunt with and old time adventurer, Jim Hunter. This man is a treasure trove of stories and adventures from hunting all over the world since he was a young boy. We enjoyed many of them sitting in his hunting lodge, picking fresh grapes from the vines and enjoyed wine from his vineyard. That afternoon, it was time to head out to scout for the elusive whitetail. We spotted a couple, but they were small spikes and four points so we decided to head in and start again the next day.
We started the day scouting and found a nice buck we wanted to track. We crept and crawled to get in position.. to see the deer and get a shot. As we crawled to the crest of the hill, Rick laid out prone for the shot.
He didn’t notice he could see the deer in the scope. The barrel was lower … and pointed into a small mound of dirt.
I zoomed in on the deer and told Rick I was ready.. go ahead and take him!
He shot, I saw dirt and rocks fly between myself and the deer. Our guide said.. “you missed!”
Rick said “no way, he’s only 150 yds!”
He loaded another round and fired again. The deer didn’t move and I yelled “Rick, you’re hitting the dirt somewhere!”
He decided to try one more time. Alas .. the same thing happened again! By this time, the buck had decided he had seen and heard all he wanted and lit out for thicker country.
After laughing and looking at the shot on camera, it was apparent what had happened. Now we our task was to locate another buck somewhere on this 8,000 acre spread. Whitetail deer are scarce in this country, so even finding them is a challenge. We were back to glassing the landscape, scoping mountainsides and valleys. We decided to change locations to steeper country, drove down an old road and spotted a buck with nice width and knew this might be our only chance since we were scheduled to leave the next day. Rick got on the buck and was able to take him at 200 yards with his muzzleloader.
We’re back on the plane headed back to our original New Zealand destination at Alpine Hunting. What an exciting adventure this has been (mainly cause it was on my bucket list!)! I got to fish a little on day nine and was able to catch a six pound rainbow trout – so special for me!)!
If you ever have the opportunity to venture to New Zealand it’s a breathtaking adventure with beautiful scenery and a different adventure every day.
Thanks to all our sponsors and you – the viewers that support us and keep us going to bring you the best adventures we can from all over the world!
~ Double Lung Outdoors Team
(written by Johnny “Buck” Kennedy)