Lucretia, Brass Monkey and a hungry brown trout

Fantastic weather on the Lewis Tops, the infamous Brass Monkey biv, and some cold tarns to cool off in.

Our chopper roared off on a bluebird day and, after a scenic flight, touched down at Lucretia biv, Lewis Pass Tops. I was accompanied by new friends Alan and Pete, fellow members of the NZDA North Canterbury chapter and both experienced hunters with a great deal of knowledge and hunting stories.

We started up the track mid-afternoon and stopped to scan a clearing in the dense forest. I noticed an antler protruding from the bush line and, sure enough, we were onto a solid young stag. His tall, even antlers were enticing but, as this was a management hunt, we were only out for hinds. So, we admired the stag for a while longer and headed for the tops.

We climbed up the steep unmarked track before emerging from the bush. Vast sweeping views offered excellent glassing opportunities, so we settled in to catch our breath and got the binoculars out. As the sun began to drop, deer emerged onto the tussock to graze. We spotted several groups but none within our reach. Before dark, we crept back down toward the hut, stopping to watch the stag from earlier, now out grazing in the comfort of dusk.

A beautiful calm evening on the tops under a full moon.

The next morning, Pete and Al teamed up for a bush hunt while I spent the day climbing up and over the saddle to seldom-visited Brass Monkey biv. I spent the evening glassing the treeline around the biv but nothing appeared, despite plentiful deer and chamois tracks. In the morning, I got onto a large hind and yearling but they managed to slip back into the bush before I could close the gap. With the sun now up, I began the long climb and descent back to Lucretia.

After a rest and debrief with the others, I began the walk out, camping on the lower river flats. I managed to bring a hungry brown trout to the surface with my fly rod and a cicada pattern.

The next morning we walked to the carpark, our packs tragically light from a lack of venison. Despite not achieving our prime objective, the trip was a success. Being relatively new to New Zealand hunting, I learned a lot from these two guys. Alan had spent his life hunting the

West Coast and Pete had exceptional knowledge of rifle shooting and ballistics. We shared some ‘secret’ spots for future hunts and the guys gave me some tips on shooting, that I sorely needed. We made plans to hunt together in the future.

Epic high-country tops at the head of Lucretia stream. There are at least 4 deer in this photo as well as my hunting partner Pete, catching his breath after a steep climb up.

These NZDA trips are a great opportunity to get out there with like-minded people in your area, make new friends, sharpen skills and share your experience. They’re also important examples of New Zealand hunters taking an active role in the ethical management of game populations, which improves the relationship between hunters and managers. This hunt was fun, affordable, and definitely an adventure, and I’m already signed up for the next one.

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