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Tahr Hunting in New Zealand
About New Zealand Tahr
The Himalayan Tahr, originally from the areas around Tibet, was introduced to the Southern Alps of the South Island of New Zealand around 1904 to 1906. Initially considered a pest, the New Zealand government controlled the herds. Tahr includes government planes and planes. Over the past twenty years, the Tahr’s hunting status has changed from being an unwanted pest to a controlled, renewable and valuable resource to many local and overseas competition hunters.
The Tahr is a majestic animal found in mountainous rocky areas with a long “lion-like” mane blowing in the wind. This is truly a majestic sight. When pursued, the Tahr hunter will be in awe of their climbing abilities in the New Zealand Alpines they call home.
The Himalayan Tahr is closely related to the free-ranging mountain goat. A Tahr has relatively short legs and a small head with large eyes and small pointed ears. Their hooves have a flexible, rubber sole that allows them to grip smooth rocks, while the hard, sharp rim can penetrate small footholds. The Tahr occupies rugged mountain landscapes ranging from 3000′ to 8000′ above sea level. Males are much larger and have a different color and horn structure than females. An adult Himalayan Tahr can weigh from 300 to 400 pounds and stand 2½ to 3 feet tall. Nannies (female) only weigh 45-55 pounds. This is one of the largest “pair” ratio differences among any mammals in the world. Himalayan Tahr are herbivores, living on high alpine “tussock” grass and shrubs. The Himalayan Tahr can be in herds from 2-25 animals and can live up to 14 years in the wild.
What is the Bull Tahr Trophy?
A Bull Tahr has horn bases of 8-9″ and a rounded horn of 10 to 14 inches. A Tahr hunter will judge a good male with his long mane and horns although the record book evaluation only uses a combination of diameter the base and length of both horns. Most Tahr hunting guides will look for horns over 11 inches long. Few New Zealand Tahr have been found with horns over 15″ and these usually fall into the SCI Top 10 Record Category .
When should I plan my Tahr Hunting Trip?
Like Chamois hunting, Tahr hunting can be done year round. The best time to hunt Tahr is during New Zealand’s late fall and winter. By hunting the Tahr in the winter, the Tahr will have their winter coats and manes. Tahr mane can grow 5-8″ in length from February to early July and turn black in color. Late May, June, July and August are ideal months to hunt Tahr and chamois. The Tahr rut runs from late May to July which usually correlates with the snow season. Rut is the best time for bow hunting. Tahr can hunt in conjunction with the red singer “roar” or rut in April and April but the hunter will have to work a lot to find Tahr with a long mane at that time of year, the coats will be lighter in color before winter sets in.
What is the best way to hunt New Zealand Tahr?
Most of the outer mountains of Tahr are accessible by two roads or light trails up to the tops of the mountains. The hunters usually glass the mountains early in the morning and again in the evening and then hunt the mountains and the clothes cars below. Tahr hunting ground can range from 3′ tall tussock grass to rock and shale mountains. In most cases, the physical requirements for this type of hunting are much lower than for mountain goat or sheep hunting. It should take at least 2 days for a single shot Tahr hunter (in good weather) and 3-4 days with a bow for a good design. If you are a strict record modern book competition, you can easily double that time period.
What about hunting Tahr by plane?
Helicopter helps Tahr hunting enables hunters to access the most remote mountain areas where the best animals are. It also offers a greater guarantee of success if the hunter has limited time in New Zealand to hunt. Helicopter-assisted flight can be an exciting choice with amazing flights, and the chance to take on a unique competition. It is important to note that the plane is only used as a mode of transport and recovery of the animal. Hunters are not allowed to shoot, drive or herd from the air. Tahr hunters observe their competition from a plane and are taken to an area where they can chase their prey on foot. This type of hunting does not have a cautionary element as you will be out of a plane flying over an unknown mountain.
What do I need to bring with me when visiting a Tahr?
Most Tahr hunting is done in the high altitudes of the New Zealand Alpines. Some of these hills are covered with tall clumps of Tussock Grass of 2-3′ and some are covered in a bed of rocks and broken shale. Starting in July, the same mountains may still have snow on them. Make sure you have good boots that have been broken in. Since you may be hunting in the snow, you’ll want your boots to be insulated and waterproof. If you are hunting on top of tussock grass, wear a good pair of gators. The gators will kill the snow or morning dew to get your hunting pants wet and cold. Premium optics are essential. Buy the best “glass” you can afford. I recommend a binocular harness as it will come in handy when navigating shale and missing rocks. This will keep your binoculars from getting bounced around or worse, banged on a rock. Most Tahr rifle shots will be in the 150 to 250 yard range. A good range finder will come in handy for both rifles and bow hunters. At 300 plus pounds, the Tahr is a good sized trophy animal. I would recommend 7mm or larger and 164 grain or larger expandable bullets. A good 3,000 fps.30 caliber with a 180 wide bullet was designed for the Tahr. Your rifle should be equipped with a good quality scope in the size of 3×9 or 2.5×10. I would also recommend a good backpack capable of carrying your rifle or bow. This will keep your hands free while moving across the mountains. If you are sky hunting, a good hunting guide can usually get you within 40-50 yards of your Tahr during the rut. Winning the Tahr trophy is very successful with a bow. Allow yourself extra hunting days. Your biggest challenge in Tahr hunting are the nannies giving their warning whistle as you hunt your Bull Tahr.
How should I transport my Tahr taxidermy?
I recommend that all Tahr hunters, especially first time Tahr hunters, really think about how you want the Tahr bull to move. A shoulder mount is the most economical taxidermy mount but it really doesn’t do justice to the long hair on Tahr’s mane. Here’s a tip for your first (or only) Tahr Hunting trip.
In the contract cap it comes out for a full body mount. It will be four months before you get the cape back to the US and probably several more months before your taxidermist will send it out for tanning. This will give you extra time to decide (and save) whether or not you want to do a full shoulder or upper body lift. If your guide picks you up for shoulder placement in the field, you’re stuck with your choice. The full Tahr bull mount is stunning and will be a staple in any hunting den or competition room. You may also want to consider hiring a Nanny Tahr. Some outfitters will let you harvest a Nanny for a few hundred dollars in combination with taking a Tahr bull at their competitive price. Bull & Nanny Tahr raised a large pedestal.
Global Sporting Safaris, a hunting consultancy company, offers the best opportunity for Tahr hunting in New Zealand. Whether you are a bow hunter, muzzleloader, crossbow hunter or rifle hunter, we have the locations, guides and experience to put you on the Tahr hunt of a lifetime.
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