Unguided: How to Hunt Free-Range Tahr in New Zealand (Part 1 of 2)

I shot my first Tahr a few weeks back and I wanted to give an overview of what the Tahr is and how to go about finding a location to hunt your first one. Part two of this unguided series will discuss strategies for how to get within range.

What is a Tahr?

For those who are new to the idea of hunting Tahr in New Zealand. Himalayan tahr are a type of mountain goat native to the himalayas. They were brought to New Zealand about two hundred years ago. The Tahr quickly spread over vast areas of the mountains of the South Island. After getting up close to one Max and I realized these animals are larger and more solid than they appear in the photos.

Tags, Seasons, licenses

You do not have to buy a license or a tag to hunt Tahr in New Zealand but you may have to apply for a hunting permit at the Department of Conservation office. All this entails is that you apply online or go to the nearest office to the location you are hunting and pick up a permit. They are free. You can purchase a temporary gun license from the New Zealand government for 25 dollars. In regards to seasons, the iconic look of a Tahr with its main blowing in the wind comes from photos taken from May-September when they are still in their winter coats. If you want to shoot a tahr with a large main you will need to go in winter. But if you want an easier hunt the summertime offers good weather and tahr that are at lower elevations. I shot my tahr at an in between stage as his main was starting to grow in in March.

Location

I had been on two tahr hunts prior to my first successful trip. Both were on the West coast of the South Island. While the West coast offers larger heads there is more rain and lower numbers of tahr than on the East Coast. Also the bush is thicker so it is harder to locate tahr or glass from the bottoms. The East coast, which contains the Mount Cook hunting area, is where many people go hunting offers the best chance of success. I shot my Tahr near lake Tasman near the Murchison River. On the department of conservation’s website you can fill out some tabs to limit your options of units down here.

Accessing your unit

Many Tahr hunting locations require serious hikes to get to. Especially in the winter. My first two tahr hunts included 10 mile hikes on serious terrain, but the third was a much more tame hike. It was a day hike in and far easier than the West Coast hunts I had been on before. So it is possible to find units that are accessible by foot and not dangerous, but you may not find a trophy animal. For this reason some hunters choose to be helicoptered into locations. Depending on your level of fitness, your risk aversion, and the animals you are after there are units available.

The final video of the tahr I shot is on Iowa Slam or youtube here.

If you have any other questions on locating a unit please comment below. Thanks, Harrison.

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