Carbon Express Arrows
Wildside Safaris, New Zealand
Hogs
Contributors to this thread:
MBMule 15-Mar-18
Neil 15-Mar-18
MBMule 19-Mar-18
Huntingpooch 19-Mar-18
MBMule 19-Mar-18
Fuzz 20-Mar-18
MBMule 20-Mar-18
Fuzz 20-Mar-18
NZhunter 20-Mar-18
MBMule 20-Mar-18
MBMule 20-Mar-18
MBMule 20-Mar-18
Fuzz 21-Mar-18
NZhunter 21-Mar-18
Genesis 21-Mar-18
MBMule 23-Mar-18
MBMule 23-Mar-18
Buffalo1 23-Mar-18
MBMule 23-Mar-18
MBMule 01-Apr-18
BOWNBIRDHNTR 02-Apr-18
MBMule 03-Apr-18
MBMule 03-Apr-18
MBMule 19-Apr-18
Fuzz 19-Apr-18
deserthunter 19-Apr-18
MBMule 19-Apr-18
MBMule 20-Apr-18
axle2axle 20-Apr-18
MBMule 21-Apr-18
MBMule 21-Apr-18
MBMule 21-Apr-18
MBMule 22-Apr-18
MBMule 22-Apr-18
Marty 22-Apr-18
MBMule 23-Apr-18
MBMule 23-Apr-18
MBMule 23-Apr-18
Medicinemann 23-Apr-18
MBMule 23-Apr-18
MBMule 24-Apr-18
axle2axle 24-Apr-18
MBMule 24-Apr-18
axle2axle 25-Apr-18
wannaelk 25-Apr-18
axle2axle 26-Apr-18
MBMule 26-Apr-18
MBMule 26-Apr-18
Fuzz 26-Apr-18
MBMule 26-Apr-18
MBMule 26-Apr-18
axle2axle 26-Apr-18
MBMule 27-Apr-18
MBMule 27-Apr-18
Fuzz 27-Apr-18
Nick Muche 27-Apr-18
iceman 27-Apr-18
MBMule 27-Apr-18
JTreeman 27-Apr-18
axle2axle 27-Apr-18
APauls 27-Apr-18
Quinn @work 27-Apr-18
Tyler 27-Apr-18
Outdoordan 27-Apr-18
Medicinemann 27-Apr-18
Marty 27-Apr-18
MBMule 28-Apr-18
MBMule 28-Apr-18
Fuzz 28-Apr-18
axle2axle 28-Apr-18
From: MBMule
15-Mar-18
I’m looking to book a red stag hunt for my wife and I next spring and I’m looking mostly at Wildside Safaris run by Gerald and Brenda Fleurty. Does anyone have any experience with this outfitter?

From: Neil
15-Mar-18
Sean, it's Neil Summers from Bowhunting Safari Consultants. We book for Gerald and have for many years. I'll send you a PM

From: MBMule
19-Mar-18
Well, that escalated quickly. I was planning on booking with Wildside for 2019, because my wife and I have a travel voucher for $1500 that had to be used by May 7, 2018. I thought it had to be used to book a flight by that date, but my wife informed me yesterday that all travel has to be booked AND completed by May 7, 2018. That sent me into a bit of a scramble to find something on short notice, but it turned out that Gerald has an opening in late April, this year! Perfect! Red stag, here I come! This thread will be my attempt at a Semi-Live Hunt, chronicling my rushed planning and preparing, as well as the hunt.

I haven’t shot my bow since I shot my whitetail in November, so I’ll dust off the bows today. I used to shoot every day of the year, but I seemed to pick up the odd bad habit during my close range practice in the house through the winter. The first winter I trapped, I didn’t shoot at all, because most days I was lucky to get 6 hours of sleep between working for 12-16 hours, checking snares and putting up my coyotes. I was also foolish enough to take on custom skinning for a couple of guys, which added to my workload, but got me good at skinning, and then fast. By the end of that first season, I could skin a previously frozen coyote in less than 4 minutes. Anyway, when I started shooting again in the summer, I noticed that I didn’t have any of the bad habits that I normally do after a winter of shooting at 5 yards. I was able to jump right into my regular shooting routine; one broadhead tipped arrow from 50-80 yards, without any issues. Since then, I give myself a break for the winter. I have just over a month to prepare for this hunt, which is plenty of time, and I’ll begin shooting today.

I’m also out of shape, at least compared to what I normally am, and I just had fairly extensive sinus surgery, but I have a follow up appointment on Thursday, and I’m sure I’ll get the green light from my surgeon to begin exercising again. I haven’t done much in the past year or so, as my chronic sinus infections left me with little energy and ambition, and it was too easy to use that as an excuse.

Follow along here if you want to hear more of my extensive ramblings regarding my preparation for the hunt, and of course, the hunt itself!

From: Huntingpooch
19-Mar-18

Huntingpooch's embedded Photo
Huntingpooch's embedded Photo
Huntingpooch's embedded Photo
Huntingpooch's embedded Photo
Huntingpooch's embedded Photo
Huntingpooch's embedded Photo
I hunted with Wildside in 2007. Gerald is a great guy and accommodations are first class.

From: MBMule
19-Mar-18
Beautiful animals! What did that stag score?

From: Fuzz
20-Mar-18
Good luck MB on getting everything in order! At least you don't have to go thru the pain and anguish of having a hunt booked 2 years out and the seemingly never moving calender moving waaayyyyyyy to slowwwwww!! Looking forward to this story!

FUZZ

From: MBMule
20-Mar-18
Fuzz, that’s the way I normally do things. I think my hunt in South Africa was booked in late 2010 and I didn’t go until July 2013. Most of my other hunts have been booked a year or more ahead, never like this. Not much time to anticipate!

My flights are all booked now. I’m surprised at the price, considering it’s just over a month away. I expected they would be much more. Round trip from Winnipeg to Auckland for $1750 CAD, so closer to $1300 USD. Only $150 CAD for the short connecting flight from Auckland to Taupo, where Gerald will pick me up. During the few days that I’m there, they only have one other hunter there, and he’s hunting for Sika, so I’ll have the red stag all to myself! The roar will basically be over but the younger stags will apparently still be roaring some, so I’m glad I’ll get to experience part of it, anyway.

I didn’t get a chance to shoot today, got caught up with catching up on coyotes and lost track of the daylight, but I did get the snowmobile out after dark to make a path to my target backstop.

From: Fuzz
20-Mar-18
Good deal on the airfare! I'm definitely gonna get there some day. Not interested in tar or chamois.....but those red stags?..... I gotta get me one of those!

From: NZhunter
20-Mar-18
Good luck on your NZ hunting adventure. I know the area you'll be hunting ( I hunt the nearby public land) and its a great spot. Late April is an awesome time to hunt and you'll hear the sika roar too which is very cool.

From: MBMule
20-Mar-18
Tahr probably interests me more than red stag, actually. I enjoy the mountain-style hunting. But red stag is on the menu first. My wife would like to go to New Zealand and would probably be joining me if we didn’t have an 8 week old baby. Originally, we had planned on going over next year. Next time, fallow deer for her and Tahr for me. NZHunter, good to hear! Are sika in the same area?

From: MBMule
20-Mar-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
The trail, already partially snowed in.
MBMule's embedded Photo
The trail, already partially snowed in.
MBMule's embedded Photo
40 yards
MBMule's embedded Photo
40 yards
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My shed eating shooting partner
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My shed eating shooting partner
MBMule's embedded Photo
50 yards. A bit lower than I was aiming.
MBMule's embedded Photo
50 yards. A bit lower than I was aiming.
I ran out of coyote boards today so got some shooting in before dark. It snowed since I made my trail to my target backstop, but not much and the trail is nicely packed. Didn’t even fill my work boots with snow.

Here are the first two arrows I’ve shot since November 11. The first was at 40 yards, the second at 50. This is my hunting setup, so the arrows are tipped with broadheads. I’ve shot the same bow and arrow setup since 2012 and see no reason to change. I actually have piles of extra arrows and components in case something is discontinued, that’s how much I like it.

The arrow is a Carbon Express Piledriver Hunter 450, cut extra short to get it stiff enough to handle a 100 grain brass insert and 150 grain 3 blade Vantage Point Archery broadhead. My “fletching” is a Starrflight FOB, which I take an endless amount of teasing over from my taxidermist. I shoot an 80 pound BowTech Invasion CPX that scales in at 84 pounds, and this combination has broken more heavy bones than I can remember. On most animals, I’ll take pretty much any shot angle presented, because this setup has proven to be a bone breaking penetrator.

My shooting partner is our loveable family idiot, Rome, who believes himself to be a master shed hunting dog.

From: MBMule
20-Mar-18
Sorry about the sideways photos. I tried to turn them but when I click on the “Image Tools” button above each photo, it only lets me turn the first image.

From: Fuzz
21-Mar-18
Looks like you're locked and loaded!

Not familiar with the starflight fletching...had to look it up.

From: NZhunter
21-Mar-18
If youre hunting Wildside Safaris main hunting area, then yes there are sika near by. Its a beautiful area and plenty of deer around.

From: Genesis
21-Mar-18
My son is on his last few days of his NZ honeymoon.....the country is spectacular

From: MBMule
23-Mar-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
60 yards
MBMule's embedded Photo
60 yards
Not much to report on preparations. Shot 2 arrows yesterday, one at 60 and one at 70. I was happy with the results but will continue to shoot an arrow or two a day to further “grease the groove”. Then I’ll just re-sharpen the broadheads and be good to go. That’s just one of the reasons I love these VPA broadheads. Screw them on, spin check them, shoot them to check that they all fly true then run them over a stone and strop, and you can shave with them. No joke.

From: MBMule
23-Mar-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
70 yards. A little forward.
MBMule's embedded Photo
70 yards. A little forward.

From: Buffalo1
23-Mar-18
Think you are sitting of "G" waiting on "O". Good luck. Looking forward to your story.

From: MBMule
23-Mar-18
Thanks! How’s the image quality on a desktop? I’ve been posting from my phone and they seem a little blurry to me.

From: MBMule
01-Apr-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
MBMule's embedded Photo
I’m finally done with coyotes for the season. This is the last seven of 130 that I did. As much as I’m happy to be done, not I won’t have as much to distract my mind from the fact that I’m only 3 weeks away from wheels up!

On another note, does anyone know how I can move this thread out of the “Hogs” section? That is not where I intended it to go and just realized today that that’s where it’s been posted.

From: BOWNBIRDHNTR
02-Apr-18
I'm not sure how you move the thread and I seldom look in the "Hogs" section but today I'm glad I did. Really enjoying the beginning and can't wait to hear about your hunt. Good Luck! Jeff

From: MBMule
03-Apr-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
MBMule's embedded Photo
I went through my archery tacklebox last night and got my arrows ready for the trip. I weigh each arrow and component then match them. Bare shafts with inserts and wraps weigh 462 grains. Broadheads weigh 152 grains. FOBs and Accunocks weigh 38 grains. Each arrow weighs exactly 652 grains. I then label each arrow as a hunting arrow. This is my “pre-season ritual” every year. I hope to loose 4 arrows this year. One at a red stag, two at two separate caribou bulls in northern Manitoba in September and another at a mature whitetail buck in Manitoba sometime between September and November. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to re-use broadheads. These VPA’s are tough and if I don’t hit a rock, with a little work, I can usually resharpen them back to shaving sharp. And they look good, too!

From: MBMule
03-Apr-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
These things can get ridiculously sharp, especially if you strop them.
MBMule's embedded Photo
These things can get ridiculously sharp, especially if you strop them.

From: MBMule
19-Apr-18

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This is my backup case. I’ll finish off the case with the rest of the clothes, then it’s ready to go.
MBMule's embedded Photo
This is my backup case. I’ll finish off the case with the rest of the clothes, then it’s ready to go.
The time is finally here! I usually don’t get excited for a hunt until I start packing, so I try to put that off until the day before, or maybe a couple of days if I haven’t done it for a while.

I haven’t done a hunt where I’d have to fly for several years, so I started packing last night, just to give my packing memory some time to catch up.

I decided to pack the same way my wife and I did on our trip to South Africa several years ago, as it minimizes the risk that you’ll be without hunting gear for a day or two. We split everything up half and half into two bowcases; one bow each, half the arrows, half the hunting clothes, etc. The other couple in camp with us didn’t do this, packing both their bows, clothing, medication, etc. into one case, which was delayed several days. It’s just me going this time, but I’ll still split everything half and half into two bow cases, and put my camera, medication, etc. in my carry-on.

We use SKB bowcases, and I’ve watched them be treated pretty roughly, with no damage to show for it. I’ll start with a layer of clothing as extra padding, then the bow goes in next, with a bow sling on to protect the strings and cables. The sight and rest get stuffed and wrapped with socks to protect the “snaggy” bits if the cases are inspected. Binoculars and rangefinders get wrapped well then placed in a corner. My broadhead, FOBs, nocks and a windchecker bottle go into a small plastic case to protect everything else from the broadheads. Arrows are wrapped with elastic bands then packed wherever they’ll fit. Then I pack the rest of my hunting clothing around everything to keep it from shifting.

From: Fuzz
19-Apr-18
Sounds like you've got the packing down and you're locked, loaded and ready to let'm bleed! Hopefully you can keep us posted on your travel and trip. Take a bunch of pics and notes for a hunt recap! Go Safe travels! Fuzz

From: deserthunter
19-Apr-18
Only thing I would do different is binos in my carryon.

From: MBMule
19-Apr-18
Fuzz, I always do! If there’s wifi, I’ll try to do a daily update.

Deserthunter, that’s how I normally do it, but figured since I can borrow my wife’s binos, I’ll split everything evenly. If I was headed to a less reputable destination, I would definitely pack them in my carryon.

I wonder, would the pressure change in the baggage compartment affect them? I’ll change my packing plans if it may affect the fogproof seal. If that’s the case, I might pack my rangefinders in my carryon as well, and just remove the batteries.

From: MBMule
20-Apr-18
All packed up and ready to go! Just finished scrubbing my boots with diluted bleach. Hopefully it’s to NZ Customs satisfaction.

From: axle2axle
20-Apr-18
NZhunter...PM sent.

From: MBMule
21-Apr-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
Whale bone carving
MBMule's embedded Photo
Whale bone carving
I’m on my way! In Vancouver, waiting to board...in 5 hours.

They do have a pretty interesting airport, from what I’ve been able to see from the International Departures annex.

From: MBMule
21-Apr-18

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Large saltwater aquarium
MBMule's embedded Photo
Large saltwater aquarium
MBMule's embedded Photo
MBMule's embedded Photo

From: MBMule
21-Apr-18

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Nice view, too bad the city is in the way.
MBMule's embedded Photo
Nice view, too bad the city is in the way.

From: MBMule
22-Apr-18

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MBMule's embedded Photo
Landed in Auckland not long ago, now I’m just waiting to board for Taupo, then it’s time to hunt!

I always enjoy watching the flight tracker map, and the coldest the temperature outside the plane got was -71F, our altitude was around 40, 000 feet and the fastest airspeed I saw was almost 600 mph.

From: MBMule
22-Apr-18
As a reference for anyone travelling to NZ, mention that you scrubbed your boots with 2% bleach solution and a toothbrush and they’re very appreciative that you know their regulations.

Also, don’t worry if your bow cases don’t show up in the “Fragile and Oversized Luggage” area. There’s a locked cabinet controlled by the police near baggage claim 3. There’s a Police kiosk across the aisle from it. If there’s no officer at the desk and no one walking around with a detection dog, press the red button a few times, and if that doesn’t work, try the phone.

Also, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to claim your case! Another bowhunter that I met in line waiting for his case only had an hour to claim his case, clear biosecurity and customs, check in for his next flight and then make the trek to the domestic departure terminal about 2/3 of a mile away. He probably made his flight but it might have been close. I would give yourself at least 3 hours from your scheduled arrival time to your next scheduled departure time. Security and customs weren’t at all busy and it still look nearly half an hour to get through, and then you still have to check your bags and make your way to the domestic departure terminal.

From: Marty
22-Apr-18
Good Luck! Sounds like a fun trip.

From: MBMule
23-Apr-18
Got in to Taupo yesterday morning around 9:00 local time, then did a few things in town and headed back to the lodge. I got unpacked and set up, then shot each arrow going into my quiver and resharpened it. Brenda and Gerald had to pick up some more clients in Taupo later in the day, so my guide, Joe, and Brenda and Gerald’s son, also Joe, went to town for some gourmet burgers. They had poutine on the menu, so I had to see if it was as good as Canadian poutine. Very good!

After breakfast this morning, Joe and I headed out for a morning hunt.

From: MBMule
23-Apr-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
We saw stags before we even left the truck this morning.
MBMule's embedded Photo
We saw stags before we even left the truck this morning.
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A young dark phase fallow buck, not long into the hunt.
MBMule's embedded Photo
A young dark phase fallow buck, not long into the hunt.
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A very nice, mature red stag, bedded down and alerted to our presence by magpies.
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A very nice, mature red stag, bedded down and alerted to our presence by magpies.
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He got up after several minutes and headed back into the bush.
MBMule's embedded Photo
He got up after several minutes and headed back into the bush.

From: MBMule
23-Apr-18

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Arapawa rams
MBMule's embedded Photo
Arapawa rams
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This ram had a different horn that has grown into his face on the curl.
MBMule's embedded Photo
This ram had a different horn that has grown into his face on the curl.
MBMule's embedded Photo
A nice fallow buck
MBMule's embedded Photo
A nice fallow buck
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There’s turkeys everywhere here! I have yet to see a tom, though. Odd.
MBMule's embedded Photo
There’s turkeys everywhere here! I have yet to see a tom, though. Odd.

From: Medicinemann
23-Apr-18
Glad everything got there OK. I was going to remind you to pack a release in both bowcases.

From: MBMule
23-Apr-18
Oh, not to worry, there was! I can’t shoot fingers with this bow, so I always have 2 releases with me at all times. One for each bow!

From: MBMule
24-Apr-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
400” or better stag.
MBMule's embedded Photo
400” or better stag.
Had a great evening hunt tonight. Went out around 3:00 and within 20 minutes, we had already had a failed stalk on a mature stag, and been at full draw on a big fallow deer at 40 yards but he didn’t offer me a shot.

I also saw 2 stags over 400”, some young stags and had another stalk on around a 360” stag, but he got up to chase a satellite stag off just before I was in a position to shoot. I lost track of how many fallow deer we saw tonight, but dozens, at least. One was a really neat management buck. He was very light, almost white, and had one great big antler with a spike on the other side. There’s quite a few fallow bucks here with damaged pedicles from crawling through the cattle fences while in velvet. They’re sure fun to hunt though, and cheaper!

From: axle2axle
24-Apr-18
MBMule...guessing the fallow bucks are rutting at this time too...have you heard them croaking yet? Seems the height of the rut occurs around ANZAC Day in New Zealand. A very interesting mating call those bucks make...that's for sure. Looks like you are on a great hunt...thanks for sharing and the play-by-play. Kevin

From: MBMule
24-Apr-18
Yes, the fallow are croaking now but they’re kind of at the tail end of their rut right now. They were very susceptible to calls just last week, by the sounds of it. Very interesting call, for sure! Makes it much easier to stalk when you know where they are without ever seeing them haha.

The stags are still roaring, but mostly young ones and it seems like the roar is basically over. Although, the 360” stag we stalked yesterday was mature and still holding hinds. Most of the other mature stags we’ve seen have been solo or with other stags.

From: axle2axle
25-Apr-18
Yup...guessing the reds rut peaked in March. Cool you are still getting to hear the roar in April. Adds to the thrill. Keep it coming MBMule. Kevin

From: wannaelk
25-Apr-18
Really enjoying this update. Can you bring your non-hunting spouse on a trip like this? Are there things for them to do?

Good luck

From: axle2axle
26-Apr-18
Hey wannaelk...New Zealand may be the best possible place to bring along a non-hunting spouse. English speaking (with a great kiwi accent), good exchange rate on our currency (roughly 70%...so your dollars go further), excellent food and wine, great shopping opportunities for the ladies, lots to see and do...individually or together, and virtually no congestion (only about a million people live on the entire South Island) where a lot of the major bowhunting takes place. Glaciers to rain forests to fjords...on the same day if you want! You can't go wrong! You will need to learn how to drive on the opposite side of the road...and steer from what is typically your passenger seat on an American car/truck...and if you get a stick, you'll be using your left hand to shift. All in all, it will really depend on your spouse...and how they do on their own during the portion of your trip you will be hunting. If they like adventure and can do some things alone, you will both be in for a trip of your life! Kevin

From: MBMule
26-Apr-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
This is the view from the lodge. Pretty hard to beat, if you ask me.
MBMule's embedded Photo
This is the view from the lodge. Pretty hard to beat, if you ask me.
wannaelk, axle2axle said it. Wildside is on the north island but there’s still plenty for non-hunters to do. I’ve been fortunate enough to do a lot of travelling to hunt, and New Zealand is far and away the best country I have ever visited. The hunting at Wildside is unmatched. The game sightings are like in Africa. Not as many species but nearly ever little valley you creep into is holding animals.

The second morning, things happened fast. We were only a couple of hundred yards from the Ute when we spotted a nice fallow deer raking brush on the edge of the crop field. We snuck into a small patch of bush and got set up, then my guide, Joe Edlington, began to call. As a side note, Joe is a very good photographer, as is Gerald, and if you have Facebook or Instragram, they’re worth a follow. Joe is under Joe Edlington Wild and Gerald is under Wildside Hunting Safaris. Anyway, as Joe croaked, the fallow just kept coming across the field, headed back to the bush. Unfortunately, none were interested, but a group of 4 stags started headed towards us. The lead one was the best, a good, mature stag. It looked like it was all coming together and he came through at 39 yards. I drew and stopped him with a soft grunt, then shot. He dropped at the shot like a bloody whitetail, and I could see the arrow went high. Very high, far too high to be a lethal shot. He took off like a scalded dog, jumped through the cross fence and was gone. We ran through a gate next to us to try to cut him off at one of the open ridges, and we got close, but had no view for a second shot before he disappeared into a small valley. We got around the other side of the valley and waited for him a reappear, but he never did, so I did a slow push while Joe stayed up top in case he came out. We spend some time pushing out the narrow strip of bush, but to no avail, so we went back to the shot site. We found the arrow, and it didn’t look good. No blood to speak of, some small bits of meat and some fat smearing. Absolutely no blood, but we were able to follow his tracks. We followed them through where he had disappeared into the small valley, up where we had sat in case he reappeared, but he must have beaten us through, down off the other side and then along a long, narrow opening for a couple of hundred yards before we lost them. Absolutely zero blood was spotted and his gait seemed unbroken. Regardless, we spent the rest of the morning and afternoon looking. Joe would get in position where he could see virtually everything coming out of a bush, then I would do a slow push. We pushed lots of fallow out, but not my stag. I was disheartened and disappointed, but not surprised. I saw the arrow placement as he ran after the shot, and I knew at that moment that we wouldn’t recover that stag, and unless infection set in, he would likely survive.

From: MBMule
26-Apr-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
The terrain, perfect for bowhunting.
MBMule's embedded Photo
The terrain, perfect for bowhunting.
MBMule's embedded Photo
MBMule's embedded Photo
MBMule's embedded Photo
MBMule's embedded Photo
MBMule's embedded Photo
Beautiful, dark fallow buck.
MBMule's embedded Photo
Beautiful, dark fallow buck.

From: Fuzz
26-Apr-18
Dang it mule!! Sorry you didnt connect! Im sure you'll get another shot soon the way it sounds. Looks like great stalking ground and opportunities galore! What's their wounding policy on a non lethal hit? Does the guide make the call depending on the hit and sign? ...or is it "one and done"?

From: MBMule
26-Apr-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
We even used a dog on the trail, but once our stags trail intersected with other red deer, it was lost to him. No blood scent.
MBMule's embedded Photo
We even used a dog on the trail, but once our stags trail intersected with other red deer, it was lost to him. No blood scent.
MBMule's embedded Photo
MBMule's embedded Photo
MBMule's embedded Photo
Another nice stag.
MBMule's embedded Photo
Another nice stag.

From: MBMule
26-Apr-18
Fuzz, it’s the standard bowhunting wound policy; if blood is drawn, that’s your animal. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that your hunt is over, it just means that you have to pay the trophy fee on that animal. If the shot is on video and it’s obvious that it’s clearly a non-lethal hit, it might be different, but even then, it might get infected and turn lethal.

From: axle2axle
26-Apr-18
Bummer about the high hit MBMule. Keep after 'em...and nice chocolate phase fallow buck in your photo. Brings back lots of memories from my trips to NZ. Looking forward to more of your story to come... Kevin

From: MBMule
27-Apr-18
After a relatively sleepless night, we headed out the next morning to keep searching the area, getting progressively further and further from the last spot we had his tracks.

On the last bush stalk of the morning, about 100 yards from the end of the bush, we suddenly spotted a standing stag at only about 30 yards. We froze, waiting to see what he was going to do. After a few minutes, he laid down in his bed. We could see his chest through the binoculars and could see that he wasn’t the stag I had hit high, but I decided to see how close I could get to him, just for fun. We hadn’t had hardly any wind the entire hunt, so even with the forest floor being damp and fairly quiet, it was still tough to move without making any noise. I was already too close to take off my boots, especially since I was also wearing gaiters, so I decided to do the stalk in boots.

My first route gave me the best chance at not being seen, due to several large trees blocking his view, but the tangle of vines kept me from getting any closer or getting a decent angle. At this point, it was just a practice stalk, but I wanted to treat it as if it was a target animal. I backed out, using the small trees to hold myself steady so I could move slowly and clear the debris with my toe before putting any weight down. At one point, I was less than 20 yards from the stag and could see his eye quite clearly, but had to cross about a 6’ area with nothing between him and I, not even a vine. I figured it was a fools errand, but there was no other way to approach, so I decided to put Sitka’s original Optifade Forest pattern to the test.

I moved as slow as I absolutely could possibly move, again, clearing a quiet footbed with my toe. It probably took me close to 10 minutes to move 6’, but I was finally behind cover again and he hadn’t even batted an eye. I finally got the best angle I could, but he was bedded slightly facing me, so I got comfy and prepared to wait. At this point, I had decided I was going to shoot this stag, with my guides permission. I slowly looked back and got his attention, then made a shooting motion and he gave me the thumbs up and got ready to film. I sat on my heels until my toes felt like they were on fire then slowly shifted into a comfier position. When I leaned back against the tree fern that I was using for a back rest, it made a slight, mushy, cracking sound. It was barely perceptible, but the stag stood up in his bed. If he had stood straight up, I would have had a perfect shot into his vitals, with trees blocking his view of me. Unfortunately, he stood and moved slightly forward, blocking his vitals. He took a few steps forward, looking my direction, so when his view was blocked, I stood and drew. When he stopped again, he gave me a clear shot into his vitals, so I settled and shot. He whirled at the shot and even though it was only maybe 18 yards, he turned a nearly broadside shot into a quartering to shot, and I saw the FOB pop off far back. I thought, “oh no, not another bad shot!” but could see him slow to a stop after only 60 yards.

We didn’t have a clear shot with a bow or a rifle, but he was clearly woozy, with his head down low. He took a few more steps before he disappeared out of sight behind a small bank. My guide and I split up, each watching a different side of the bush patch we were on. He was nearly to the end of it, so our thoughts were that if he came out, one of us would see him and put another shot in him, if need be.

After about an hour of waiting and seeing nothing, paired with the fact that we’d both heard a small crash and thumping only a few minutes after he disappeared, we slowly snuck forward, ready to take a follow up shot, if necessary. We had already checked the arrow and it had some blood on it, and didn’t smell like gut material, but there was no blood trail at all. We were able to follow his tracks in the soft ground, and after only about 60 yards, we could see the stag laying there, dead. And what a stag he was! An honest once in a lifetime stag, especially at less than 20 yards. To top it all off, the backdrop was absolutely gorgeous for photos. I am so proud of this photo, and have my guide, Joe Edlington, to thank for it.

From: MBMule
27-Apr-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
My stag of a lifetime. Many thanks to the crew at Wildside Hunting Safaris!
MBMule's embedded Photo
My stag of a lifetime. Many thanks to the crew at Wildside Hunting Safaris!

From: Fuzz
27-Apr-18
Wow wow and WOW! Those fronts are super cool! What a great stag! Awesome job of retelling the stalk....Congratulations!

From: Nick Muche
27-Apr-18
Wow! Excellent work man! He's a beauty for sure, congrats.

From: iceman
27-Apr-18
Congratulations! Thanks for the recap.

From: MBMule
27-Apr-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
MBMule's embedded Photo
I’ll include this disclaimer now, this was NOT a public land hunt, obviously. However, these are NOT pen raised, farmed deer.

When Brenda and Gerald starting building this hunting area around 2006, it was a working farm, and still is today. Because it’s a farm, it’s perimeter fenced, and cross fenced. These fences do a great job of keeping cattle where they should be, but deer pay no mind to it. I watched fallow and red deer, bucks and does, stags and hinds, cross through or jump over these fences with ease, oftentimes at nearly full speed. The quality of stags and bucks is thanks to starting out with the best genetics available at the time and then leaving it to grow naturally, as a self sustaining wild herd, with zero influence or assistance from humans, besides the crop fields grown for cattle grazing. The largest stag they’ve ever killed was taken this year at 504”, actually in the same crop field that mine was taken near. There’s also several wild stags that have come through the perimeter fence and have chosen to stay, and who can blame them? Wildside has hinds and feed galore, and some incredible views!

From: JTreeman
27-Apr-18
That is a dream hunt for sure! Beautiful stag, congrats. Now go get one of those fallows to go with it!!!!

--jim

From: axle2axle
27-Apr-18
Nicely done MBMule! Beautiful stag! I agree with JTreeman...time for a fallow buck! Thanks for the play-by-play...great story! Kevin

From: APauls
27-Apr-18
Wow, no idea how I didn't see this until now - congrats Sean! Trip of a lifetime!

From: Quinn @work
27-Apr-18
Awesome! Congrats. Thanks for sharing your hunt. It's on the bucket list.

From: Tyler
27-Apr-18
great stag congrats!

From: Outdoordan
27-Apr-18
Good job! Congrats on a gorgeous stag!

From: Medicinemann
27-Apr-18
Nice stag!! When you are done hunting, if your time allows, drive down to Franz Joseph and go to the pub (especially if the Rugby playoffs are in full swing) with a large fireplace (There aren't that many). Order their seafood chowder....it was $17.00 per bowl.....and my single biggest mistake was that I only had one bowl....it was absolutely outstanding. If you make it to Haast, there is a large pub on the east side of the road that was a hoot to visit during the Rugby playoffs!! Be thirsty!!

From: Marty
27-Apr-18
Wow! Nice stag! Thanks for the sharing.

From: MBMule
28-Apr-18
The fourth, and final, day, we went out primarily to search further for my stag from the second day, but also to take a fallow buck, if possible. Preferably a management fallow with a broken pedicle. The fallow are vicious fighters during their rut, and many end up with pedicle injuries, causing malformed antlers, or more commonly, spikes. It was quite a slow morning, we only turned up maybe a dozen fallow deer. Most were does but there was a couple of young bucks as well.

We headed back for lunch, then headed back out around 3:00. It was nearly a full moon, accounting for the slower morning, but the evening hunting was great. Every little basin had fallow in it, and within a couple of hours, we had actually found our target buck. He was a mature buck and half huge. If both sides were good, he would be one of the biggest fallow bucks on the property. Unfortunately, one side was just a giant spike. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good photos of him. We caught up to them just before dark and he worked a scrape in front of us at 50 yards, but it was a little too dark to shoot. 5 or 10 minutes earlier and the plan would have worked perfectly. Unfortunately, as the daylight ended, so did my hunt.

Gerald, the outfitter and owner, had also been hunting for a management fallow buck that night and was able to take one at 18 yards. With no blood trail, he elected to leave it until the morning. I had some time before I had to leave, so I joined him and Joe in the search. Not long after we found the last blood, we found the buck, dead in the ferns. Gerald had actually been within yards of him the night before but the darkness and ferns hid the spotted fallow perfectly. They’re a beautiful animal, and will definitely be my target species on my next trip here.

I’m sitting in the Auckland airport as I type this, so I suppose this is the end of the semi-live hunt. Thanks all for following along! I’ll probably update the thread with more photos as they’re sent to me by Joe. He’s a great photographer and got a lot of shots that I just wasn’t able to capture.

Jake, unfortunately, I didn’t have any time before I left, and if I had, I would have continued hunting haha. It was a short, spur of the moment trip, so I was actually only in-country for 6 days, and hunting for 4. It was a short scouting trip for next time, when I’ll definitely have to bring the family. If I don’t, I might as well stay in NZ, because I certainly won’t be welcome at home haha.

From: MBMule
28-Apr-18

MBMule's embedded Photo
Gerald with a “management buck” at Wildside. The other side was a messy pedicle with 2 large spikes.
MBMule's embedded Photo
Gerald with a “management buck” at Wildside. The other side was a messy pedicle with 2 large spikes.

From: Fuzz
28-Apr-18
Thanks again for taking us along on your hunt! I will doing this hunt within the next 3-4 years and am already anxious beyond reason!

From: axle2axle
28-Apr-18
Hey MBMule...too bad your time in NZ ran out before closing the deal on a fallow buck. They are a beautiful animal for sure. And oh yeah...they mix it up during the rut. Gerald's buck pictured above seems to have two or three "speller" points broken off the lower portion of the main palmation. In time, that buck could have been a bruiser...had he not damaged his alternate antler. Check out the "triceratops" guard point he was sporting! From their croaking to their antler configuration, fallows are one cool animal to stalk during the rut. Thanks for bringing us along! Kevin

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