feature By: Ron Gayer | March, 20
To make the long story short, after a 14-hour flight we touched down in Auckland, New Zealand. Jeff had won the bid on a hunt for two at Poronui Ranch on the North island. Red stag was the game that pushed Jeff over the top. Poronui also offered other species like fallow deer, sika deer, russa stag and other game. Our four-day hunt seemed a bit short if Jeff wanted to take four or five animals. We considered adding another day to the hunt but decided to wait and see how everything worked out.
The drive in our rental car was an added adventure. We drove on the “wrong side of the road” from my perspective, and I kept turning on the windshield wipers to signal a turn. After stopping twice to catch our breath and lower our heart rates, we arrived at Poronui Ranch. The staff at the Poronui Lodge was ready for our arrival and showed us our camp accommodations. Poronui offers everything from a remote wall tent camp complete with chef, to a lavish custom-built estate that will accommodate a very large fishing or hunting group of up to 18. Our camp included a fireplace and views of the river out the sliding glass doors. It was top-notch.
Although we were hunting in June, it was the beginning of winter in the Southern Hemisphere and the mornings had a crispness and a good hard frost. Mark drove us into the hunting area of the ranch. We immediately started to see game animals. With my binoculars, I spotted game on every ridge and valley.
Mark first got Jeff on a small group of five sheep on a ridge about 200 yards to our right. Jeff loaded the rifle and got into a prone position. The sheep sensed something was up and moved into the brush, making it difficult for Jeff to get a clear shot, so we continued down the ridge. We could see four nice goats about a half mile below. Mark decided to make a
Mark stopped the truck and turned off the motor. We all got out of the truck and Mark walked up to the stag. At about 10 feet away the stag, which Mark had assumed was down for the count, jumped up and trotted up the small ridge to the south. The bull only ran about 100 yards away then stood and looked back at us. Mark called us over and proceeded to tell us that the stag had been injured during the rigors of the rut and that he was afraid it may not make it through the upcoming winter.
We returned to the truck and drove around the mountain to get upwind of the stag. Mark led our stalk to the stag, and within 20 minutes Jeff was above the deer. Jeff took aim with Mark’s .300 Winchester Magnum and took the stag with one well-placed shot to the heart. It was day one and Jeff had already taken two of the trophy’s he wanted.
We got closer and Jeff set up for a shot. The sheep got into some cover and Jeff thought he might have lost his opportunity. Soon the rams were back in the open and Jeff had his 120-yard shot and another trophy.
We had to drive up the ridge to an access road off to the right to recover the game. Off to the left we could see one of the fallow deer we had seen the day before. It was an impressive buck but out there a bit. We stalked up the ridge and set up for a shot. As Jeff got into a prone position and settled down, he took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger. The thud of the bullet impact told us that Jeff had made another great shot.
The afternoon hunt required more hiking. Mark spotted a very nice sika stag that was moving across the valley up onto a hillside. We watched as it went behind the hill and came out above. If we hustled, Mark thought we could intercept it.
Jeff spotted the stag moving down and in our direction. However, the stag came to a brush-covered flat and bedded down. All we could see was its rack and head. A steep little canyon lay between the stag and our position. Mark decided to have Jeff move up the canyon to the left. He would have to find a place to cross the canyon and work back to a position above the stag’s bed. Mark and I would keep eyes on it. After a hike of about 40 minutes, Jeff appeared above and set up for a shot. The deer stood up. We could hear the bullet’s impact as the stag jumped and ran off through the bush. The stag only ran 100 yards.
Poronui offers other ways to have fun after your hunt is done. Sporting clays, world class fishing and horseback trail rides are just a few of the adventures can be added to the experience.
Any way you measure it, Poronui Ranch is a first-class experience. Food, lodging, hunting, fishing and great people make sure the time with them in New Zealand is an experience you won’t soon forget. New Zealand hunting is just waiting. It is a once in a lifetime experience I would love to repeat someday!