Waimakariri Gorge- Hunting by Jet Boat

Jun 04, 2020

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The trip started with coffee at Simon's house and we were on the road by 0600. The drive to Woodstock at the bottom end of the Waimak Gorge took an hour and it was clear that both Simon and his dog Tom, were frothing as much as me to be getting out after a few weeks parked up at home. We had checked the live camera the night before and with no rain forecast up valley we were confident the 58 cubic metres of water flowing down each second were going to stay clean and blue. The boat was in the river as the first light of the morning lit the way up the famously braided river and into its steep and cold gorge. The V8 hummed away in the back of the composite Rapid Runner as we wound our way upriver enjoying the views and cussing the cold of the early winter mornings. A few stops were made along the way to glass the river's edges and steep faces for an inconspicuous deer slipping away after a night on the river.

After an hour of cruising and glassing, the boat slowed and with a burst from the V8, the Rapid Runner slipped up onto the beach and came to an abrupt stop. The hoof prints on the beach gave confidence we had chosen the right spot. We grabbed our packs and began wandering up a side creek heading into DOC land.

Each side of the creek showed sign of animals, both fresh and old, in the grey sands. The dog was winding and the prospect of shooting a deer or chamois was looking good. As we rounded another corner, Simon stopped. A quick check with his binos confirmed it, a Chamois Buck, not 200 metres away standing on a small bluff above the creek.

Simon had never taken a Chamois before so we weren't about to let an opportunity like this get away. 50 metres ahead there was a boulder the size of a truck on the side of the creek. Taking our time, we smoothly crept toward the rock. Slow is smooth, Smooth is fast.

Standing back in the scrub I gave Simon the nod that the camera was rolling. I heard the bolt close on the Bergara B14, everything was silent. The Chamois stood broadside 150 metres away. Simon squeezed the trigger and the suppressed .308 made a muffled bark, the Chamois jumped in shock, leaping off the backside of its perch, briefly reappearing as it ran across a narrow scree slope. Simon was confident in the shot and after reviewing the footage we could see the chamois had been hit. It was now time for Tom to play his role.

We climbed to the animals last seen position and Tom got to work. Within the minute Tom had found the buck. He hadn't made it 50 metres from where the shot had hit him.

Simon was Stoked, his first Chamois and a beautiful one at that. While its horns were never going to break any records, the trophy was in the day's events. Climbing into a Waimakariri tributary with a couple of mates, seeing some new country and being able to head home with a kill. The meat would hang in the chiller for a week before being processed for the freezer and the skin & skull would provide a memoir of a great day out.

We hung the buck in a tree and continued up river for the remainder of the day. While there was a lot of sign about we never found any more game. That afternoon as the sun dropped low in the sky and the Gorge cast shadows across the river, The humm of the V8 could be heard as we headed downstream to the Hut for beer by the fire. Tomorrow we would try another area on the mighty Waimakariri.

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