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This is a journal covering three years of hunting deer in New Zealand and the journey of teaching and learning to hunt with my dog 'Tia'.
A little about deer hunting in New Zealand:
In New Zealand we are very fortunate to have a wide variety of deer species, Red deer, Sika, Fallow, Sambar, Rusa, Wapiti (North American Elk) and 2 small herds of Whitetail deer. There was a liberation of Moose but the last to be seen or shot was in the 1950's. We also have European Chamois, Himalayan Thar, European Boar and Goats. All these animals have been introduced by man.
Pre human settlement there was only one type of land mammal (two species of small bat). Birds, lizards and insects had adapted to fill the ecosystem, so some very unique flora and fauna had developed. Unfortunately with the introduction of a wide variety of different animals, insects and plants let alone the impact we humans have made a lot of these unique life forms have become extinct or are now endangered.
Because of this impact nearly all our wild game animals are considered to be pests, this has in turn brought about the way we are allowed to hunt for most game species with no seasons, limits, tags or gender specified restrictions. But with no break or restrictions it also means that the animals can be extremely wary and very hard to hunt on public land.
'Tia' my hunting buddy:
I got Tia when she was the age of three months. I was at a good friend's house and he asked me if I would like a puppy. I umm'd and err'd so in a cunning plan he let the puppies into the room and in no time at all one had climbed on top of my boots and promptly fallen asleep. So that was that, I had been chosen!
Tia is a 'Bitsa': her father was a 'bearded hunterway' and mother a 'Lockley' (NZ breed of pig hunting dog). Both of whom were great hunting dogs in their own right.
I started giving her basic obedience lessons and she was extremely eager to please, I was astounded by how fast she learned. I took her out into the bush on a few trips to get her used to being with me, a lot of the time I carried her in the front my jacket. I took her to the range and got Tia used to the sound of a .22 rifle. We are allowed to use suppressors on our high powered rifles and my .308win and .338 federal both are not much louder than a .22 magnum.
By the time I took her out to have her first deer encounter she was very well behaved and only 5-6 months old.