Stefan and Stephan’s most excellent HUNTS adventure

Connecting with like-minded hunters through HUNTS

Yep that’s us—now how did we get into this position? Let’s take you back to the not so distant past.

The scenario: Sunday morning breakfast, lubricated by the sweet taste of KWV Premium Brandy! Three hours into this fine dining experience, we realised we both wanted to hunt New Zealand and decided the best way to start our journey was by attending a NZDA HUNTS course.

Fast forward a few weeks; we enrolled and were sitting in the classroom on our first night. The room was filled with a wide variety of personalities, experience and even some very unexpected ‘social stereotypes’. Our great and wise mentors were introduced—just for clarity, I AM talking about Rob Howey and Les Ryan—and so commenced our journey.

Real experience could save lives later

The evening sessions were filled with an excellent balance of good conversations about practical experiences, good theoretical principles and the atmosphere always felt like a safe space for us to have a yarn about anything, even topics like the morals and ethics of hunting.

At this point we were frothing at the mouth to get stuck into it and blood our hands, but it was not time yet. The first bush session was about honing practical bushcraft skills. The excitement was tangible the first morning we woke up in the bush. The feeling was a mixture of starting special forces training to the backdrop music of Apocalypse Now and just some unfit trampers with a feeling of trepidation because they bit off more than they could physically handle.

Stephan and Stefan enjoy HUNTS success

After a few days in the bush with our wise mentors and guides, we truly left as changed people.(Not sure whether it was good or bad but changed none the less).

All jokes aside, the balance of the classroom followed up by practical bush experience really helped to cement the foundation to develop confidence and start hunting on our own.

More classroom and practical work followed, which culminated in us graduating from the prestigious halls of the NZ Deerstalkers Wellington branch, qualified with HUNTS certificate in hand. Now to plan our first hunt, ALONE!

HUNTS teaches essential outdoor skills

The first opportunity was a long weekend, so we packed three days of food and supplies into our backpacks, finished work early on the Friday and tramped 12km into the Remutaka Forest Park before we set up camp. I need to mention here that this was one of the only weekends when 4×4 were allowed into the park, so we were a bit worried about what this would do to our chances of finding an animal. Nonetheless, around the campfire we covered everything from politics, Big Foot and the most optimal stalking techniques that we intended unleashing on our unsuspecting victims at the crack of dawn.

As might be expected, being the well trained HUNTS soldiers we were, we overslept an hour the next morning. I think we were woken up by a 4×4 driving past our campsite!

We quickly gathered ourselves and with our single mission of not disappointing Rob and Les, we headed out locked and loaded (figuratively).

Due to Intellectual property agreements and to make sure that all the dark arts of the HUNTS course are not exposed, I will merely say that within 60 minutes of us leaving camp, Stefan shot a deer, which we quartered.

We then packed up camp with 2.9 days of food and supplies to lug the 12km out again—plus 40kg of extra meat on our backs!

To conclude, the HUNTS course is much more than just learning to hunt. YouTube can show you that. It is about making friends, breaking stereotypical views, bringing fathers and sons together, getting back to a good work ethic and being exposed to similar minded people. The HUNTS course connects us back to an ancient and authentic way of learning, where wise and experienced people (yes, I am talking about Rob and Les again) sit around a campfire and tell stories, share principles, techniques, and wisdom to ensure that something that is culturally and socially important, is carried over to the next generation.

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