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The wait is over – from booking at a show to reality
– Hunting Experiences

Matt, from Texas discovered Poronui at the Dallas Safari Club Show in January and booked a red stag hunt for late April. We caught up with him and his partner Emily following their trip.

 

What was it about hunting red stags in New Zealand that really appealed?
I have hunted many species in many parts of the world and always wanted to hunt Red Stag. I like hunting in the best location for the species I’m after and New Zealand is renowned as being the best. You’re all known for big reds.

 

Tell us a little about the research you did to find an outfitter to hunt with.
To start off with, I spent time online researching the best regions in New Zealand to hunt reds in – both North Island and South Island. I looked at the terrain of the regions and checked out the websites of various outfitters in the different regions. Emily thought I was obsessed as I’d spend just as much time analysing the backgrounds in the photos as I did the trophies being featured in the shots.

From there I had a list of some outfitters to check out at the DSC Show in January. I made a beeline for those outfitters. They all seemed quite good, but I wasn’t convinced to book with any straight away. I looked around the show some more and felt a good connection with two other outfitters – Poronui being one of them. For me, it was the terrain at Poronui that really set it apart. I hadn’t found a lot of information in my online research about hunting the North Island and was impressed by Poronui’s landscape, cover and just the colour of the region – it’s so lush and green – and unlike anywhere else I’ve hunted.

hills

Had you heard of Poronui before the show? What convinced you it was the place to come to?
I hadn’t been aware of Poronui before the show, but there was immediate rapport with the team at the show and I liked what I saw. I was going to be travelling with Emily – a non-hunter. She really liked the look of Poronui and felt she’d feel at home there while I hunted. It was more than just a place to hunt and sleep – it had other options for non-hunters too. At the end of the day, I knew I’d have a better hunt, knowing Emily was happy and well looked after.

emily and matt

Describe your hunting experience at Poronui
I was blown away. Obviously, the scenery is beautiful, but it was even better than the pictures and videos showed. And, I saw a lot more animals than I thought I would. Yeah, I was just blown away by how many there were and the quality of them…especially this late in the season [late April]. [Guide] Mark was amazing the entire time.

The Red I ended up taking was one of the first ones I saw on my first morning of hunting. I liked how heavy his mast was, but Mark suggested I hold fire. We spotted more Reds that evening – another one rivalled that earlier one for me. They’re all different and Mark really listened to what I liked. In the end, I decided I’d like to try to find that first one again.

The following evening, we went out. We walked up through the forest about 500-600 yards and we spotted him bedded down with another stag. He was in a good spot, but he was 437 yards away, so we decided to stalk closer. Luckily the wind was good. We managed to get a clear shot, still within the trees at 200 yards. We waited a little while and he finally stood up.

Mark: Matt took him with a good clean shot.

It was a very late night that night celebrating.

 

If you had to pick one highlight about your Poronui hunt, what would it be?

I’m not a man of many words, but how do I pick just one? We’ve had a great time. Everyone’s been nice. But I’d have to say the highlight is simply the land and the animals.

I’ve travelled a lot and to so many different areas. Poronui is just so green and lush, with those constantly rolling hills. The trees are different here too – plenty of cover for the animals. The landscape really is one on its own.

trees shooting

You’ve travelled with your partner Emily, who doesn’t hunt. How has the experience been for her?
Emily: I’ve really enjoyed it – and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I went out with Mark and Matt and got to experience it all – shooting with my camera. Mark was really accommodating, and I enjoyed experiencing Matt’s world with them both…especially hiking to get closer to the animals.

Matt: I really liked the fact that if Emily hadn’t enjoyed coming out, there was plenty of other things for her to do at the Lodge. Also, hunting mornings and evenings and returning to the Lodge in between meant she wouldn’t be on her own for long days.

 

Is there anything you wish you’d known before you came?
No, everything was well explained. I received all the ‘What to bring / what to wear’ information – but had already examined all the photos to get a feel for the conditions and gear needed anyway.

I think my only surprise was just how small the Taupo airport really was! [Lodge Manager] Eve wasn’t kidding – it really is small.

 

Do you have any tips for fellow Americans heading to New Zealand for a hunting trip?

Emily had never really left the USA before (she’d just been on a cruise to Mexico) so was a little nervous but commented on how easy it all was.

I don’t have any tips…other than just do it – I highly recommend it! Oh, and I suggest hunting sika while there too – they are alert, fast and challenging.

red stag

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