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Am I Fit Enough?

Greg Morton, New Zealand correspondent for The Hunting Report describes Poronui’s game estate as the perfect hunter’s park ….

‘Am I fit enough?’ is a good self-reflection question before hunting in New Zealand. The answer lies in the type of hunting activity you have booked, so book carefully. New Zealand is a hilly and mountainous country so regardless of where you hunt, you will spend a lot of time stalking on, climbing up or edging your way carefully down hills. In general terms, the North Island is more scrub covered, has rolling hills and moderately high ranges while the South Island is steeper, often forested or clothed in matagouri, and has a chain of mountain country in the hinterland. Climbing is a universal activity with free-range alpine foot hunts for Tahr and Chamois and public land hunts rated the most in need of fitness.

Most hunting on foot in New Zealand involves sidling, a technique where the hunter criss-crosses the terrain to avoid gut-busting direct climbs or straight down descents. This is a skill well worth learning. Good boots are essential as is clothing that is light, warm, camouflaged and breathes well. Overseas hunters who are used to hunting from stands often turn up with heavy clothing not suited to walking long distances and the heat and weight of gear, not their fitness, causes extreme discomfort. Every aspect of your equipment including firearm, optics and pack should be of good quality but light, as unnecessary weight is the energy killer.

Fitness is always a tremendous asset and unfit hunters who want an easy trophy are actually asking for a canned hunt, a hunt which quality New Zealand estate owners want no part of. In New Zealand, estate hunts match free-range hunting conditions and market these as fair chase hunts. The key difference should only be in the number and quality of game and trophies found behind the wire. Top fair chase estates like Poronui adhere to the five freedoms policy. Game should have access to suitable species habitat, cover to hide in, water to drink, food to eat and living space to express themselves within family units.

Poronui used prime Sika habitat for its estate, also taking into account the stalking requirements of hunters. Red, Fallow, Rusa, wild goat, and Arapawa sheep were added to join the quality Sika herd. As New Zealand correspondent for The Hunting Report I would describe Poronui’s game estate as the perfect hunter’s park, particularly well-suited to hunters whose fitness levels vary. It is well tracked, game is evenly spread throughout the estate, there is more walking than climbing, numerous lookouts, a mix of open and bush covered gullies, and close proximity to the Lodge so less time driving, more time glassing at peak times, and home early once darkness falls. Often hunters are accompanied by their partners because the terrain is manageable and user friendly.

Greg Morton

Horned Trophies

Two horned big game species available all year round at Poronui

Poronui has two horned big game species inside the game estate: Arapawa Sheep and South Pacific Wild Goat. Both species were introduced into New Zealand by early explorers or settlers, and in the case of the sheep their isolation on an island in the Marlborough Sounds saw them develop unique characteristics.

The Arapawa breed is coloured rather than white, the ewes are hornless and light in build, while the rams are stocky and grow spiralling horns out to a metre in length. These sheep carry their head low when walking and when spooked they flee in a hunched over way. The face and legs of the sheep is relatively clean, while their fleece is thick and full, designed to cope with adverse conditions. Designated a rare domestic breed, numbers are good at Poronui where the diverse terrain and vegetation suits them perfectly. Like goats they are primarily an add-on species, usually taken towards the end of the hunting trip after the deer trophies.

The rams are very attractive and no two rams have the exact same facial colouration. Black, brown and white are the dominant colours with white blazes on the forehead often occurring. The rams are usually found in bachelor mobs and this trait gives the hunter a good chance to evaluate the trophies on offer and select the colouration that appeals. They are no easy beats and a bad wind or sighting of the hunter will have all animals hoofing it for safety.

Arapawa are incredibly hardy and it is not uncommon to see lambs running around in winter snow - the first lambs of the season have already been spotted.

The South Pacific Wild Goats found in New Zealand are a feral mix of past imported goats brought here for meat or milking. Colours are a diverse mix of previous descendants, and the wide horned billies found on Poronui probably link back to the Angora bloodline. They are sprinkled throughout the estate but numbers are managed carefully so that the vegetation does not receive too great a hammering.

Spot and stalk is the technique used to hunt both species, and because horns are not shed, hunters can stalk these trophies at any time of the year. For instance, a Rusa stag hunter visiting in August when the peak of the Rusa rut is on could also take a ram and billy goat trophy on the same trip.

Greg Morton


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