In the last week of March, The Hype of the Hunt founder and all-round
good guy Owen Trowbridge took his mates into the Southern Alps for
five days and four nights of manly, methodical deerstalking. The stags
were calling, literally – it was the time of the Roar.
Also known as a ‘rut,’ the Roar is the late March-April period in which red
stags become horny loudmouthed motherf*ckers, calling across the
valleys to attract the attention of hinds (sexy female red deer).
Because the stags are less cautious, and because they’re, well, standing
out in the field hoping to get laid, Roar season is an excellent hunting
The Hype of the Hunt was set up by Trowbridge a few years ago to offer
guided outdoor adventures in which folks get a chance to shoot red stag, tahr, elk, fallow deer and chamois.
When a few days became available at the end of March, Trowbridge
took his friends Jason and Shawn — both experienced hunters — to the
Rakaia River region, from where they helicoptered into the Mathias Pass
and Canyon Creek. That’s where the fun began.
“The goal was to chase around the hills and see what we could find,”
Trowbridge told In The Dogbox. “We had previously identified a great area
and scoped it. On the day we flew in, we set up a base camp. From there, we would have to hike up to our hunting location each day. These would be
long days — up before daylight, back in the dark, walking 10 or 15 kms — but that’s what the trip was all about.”
After the boys flew in, they located a few animals but they were not exactly
what the trio were after: they wanted mature stags with big antlers and
juicy steaks. “There were a few roars going on but not quite in full swing.
So we shopped around.”
“We went and set up a fly camp down the valley, lugging 20 kilo packs.
We set up an easier location to look around more areas — and that’s when,
at a distance of about 1000 metres, we saw a beautiful mature stag.”
The boys crossed the river and stalked their quarry, looking for a great shooting position. Once that was established, the stag kept the boys waiting.
First they waited an hour… then two… The clock kept ticking and still the
stag wouldn’t stand on its feet.
“We waited four hours for the stag to stand up! It was horrible, he was
just sleeping and chewing cud. We checked and checked – there wasn’t
a 30 second gap without us looking through the spotter! – and still, he just
kept laying down.”
After being kept waiting for half a day, the boys evened the score.
“I shot it myself, from 450 metres. I used a Sako 85 Carbonlight to do the
job. After that, it took 30-40 minutes to get up the scree to the gut where
Caping the beast (taking its head, antlers and skin) was the first job –
after some photos, of course. The stag turned out to be a ten-pointer, with
six antlers on one side and four on the other.
The day got harder after that as the lads lugged 10-15 kilograms of head
and antlers to the top of the hill.
At the top of the hill, the team were rewarded with a second mature stag
in the head basin of the river valley. “We snuck as close as 200 metres for
Jason took the shot, using a Sako Finnlight. The quarry turned out to have five antlers on each side, making it another ten pointer.
The hunt wasn’t quite over — there was more killing to come.
“From there we went back to our fly camp. It was coming on dark: a big day
on the hill. We got dinner on, crawled back into bed. Next day it was too foggy to hunt, so we packed up base camp then headed to main camp. We went up more side creeks- looking down we then spotted a chamois, 1km away. The heli was coming in the afternoon but we spent the morning getting close to our chamois location. He had barely moved. We snuck across the river which was knee-deep.”
Finally, capping off five days of success, Trowbridge lined up his shot
from 350 metres away and shot the chamois. “He was in a wee gorge and
it took us 90 minutes to get to him — a seriously hard climb through thick
Trowbridge says it was a trifecta of a trip, all in all, with three guys
taking three animals. It was a great opportunity to capture fresh photos
showing clients the fun they can have with The Hype of the Hunt now
borders are back open.