INTO THE WILD

words: Judy McAuliffe

images: Brent & Josh Green

Hunting is a way of life for many kiwis and has been for generations. Nearly 250,000 people currently hold a New Zealand Firearms licence. About 36 per cent of firearm licence holders live in the South Island, even though it is home to only about a quarter of the New Zealand population. At this time of year, up to 40,000 hunters nationwide are heading into the hills and valleys for the peak of the deer stalking season; the roar.

Our affinity with hunting is part of our ‘number-eight-wire’ mentality; it’s practical as well as enjoyable. Hunters are bringing home meat for the table and filling the freezer, and at the same time they’re enjoying spending time with like-minded mates and exploring new territory in our great outdoors.

One father and son team who regularly ‘head bush’ are Brent and Josh Green. Brent first got into the sport as a 16-year-old, joining a mate hunting for rabbits and possums, before moving on to bigger game. Almost 30 years later, he is still as keen a hunter as he was back in those early years, and he has passed this passion on to his 22-year-old son Josh, introducing him to the sport as a 12-14-year-old. “My best time in the hills is with my son,” he says. “A lot of kids now spend time on their devices and don’t get to see the back country. Out there, it’s quiet, no people, no phones, no fuss. It’s great father-son time.” 

The pair regularly hunt together, and say they have a philosophy of respect for their prey and the environment, which is why they only ever shoot what they will eat. They carry the animal out on their backs, and most is made into salami, sausages and pies. “One year we had salami made from a combination of venison, chamois and tahr – it was really tasty,” he says. 

Always keen to search out new hunting spots, they say that careful planning, always having the appropriate equipment and safety are paramount. “Google Earth is great for planning a route because it shows how to get into the DOC areas and also the terrain. We like to mix it up a bit and we’re not keen to go where too many other hunters are. Some places are so rugged that very few people will have ever ventured there, which makes for good hunting, safer hunting and superb scenery. It doesn’t get a lot better than that.”  Wearing bright colours as opposed to wearing camo gear is also important.

In summer months they will often stay out overnight with just a sleeping bag and ‘bivvie,’ “I don’t have a 4WD, so I do a lot of walking. The lighter I can travel, the better. If you’ve got a tarp and a rope, there’s your bed for the night,” he grins. In the cooler months they prefer to bed down in a DOC hut if possible, preferably with a fire.

Brent particularly loves hunting chamois. “I enjoy hunting most big game, but for me, chamois have a bit of extra appeal. They’re not easy to hunt, but they’re really inquisitive, very curious animals. If you spook them or they get a whiff of you, if you keep quiet enough, they’ll peek over a rock or out from behind a crop and you get a second chance at them.”

“Back in the day I enjoyed the thrill of the hunt, and it’s a great feeling to put meat on the table, but these days I get a bigger thrill seeing some of that beautiful country that’s out there. Unless I’m looking for a trophy, I’ll always leave young animals hoping that they’ll mature and be a better trophy next season. I can go out five or six times and not see an animal, but it will still be a great day. I always take more shots with the camera than the rifle,” he says. 

Unlike his Dad, Josh prefers to hunt for pigs. Bringing home the bacon, literally.

He has a dog, but that goes everywhere with him. “Josh gets to places that the average hunter doesn’t get to just by being so fit. He has amazing ethics,” Brent says. “He sees a lot of animals but likes to go spend more time going a wee bit further to bag a really good prize.”

It’s a similar story for avid hunter Dean Officer. Like Brent, Dean developed a love of the sport and the outdoors as a teenager, joining mates who often went out. He plans his trips meticulously, at least a week or more ahead. “That’s more time than I spend planning a family holiday,” he laughs…. Read the full story on our flipbook, below…

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.