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Tahr Hunting in New Zealand
About Tal New Zealand
Native to the region around Tibet, the Himalayan tahr was introduced to the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island around 1904-1906. Initially, the New Zealand government saw it as a pest and controlled the tahr herd using government sharpshooters and aircraft. Over the past two decades, the taal hunter’s status has changed from an unwelcome pest to a manageable, renewable and valuable resource for many local and overseas trophy hunters.
Tahr goats are majestic animals that live on rocky outcrops on mountain slopes, with their long “lion-like” manes blowing in the wind. It’s a truly spectacular sight. When pursued, taal hunters marvel at their climbing prowess in the steep New Zealand Alps they call home.
The Himalayan Taal goat is closely related to free-ranging goats. Tahr has relatively short legs, a small head with large eyes, and small, pointed ears. Their hooves have a flexible, rubber-like core that allows them to grip slippery rocks, and hard, sharp edges that can sink into small footholds. Taal inhabit steep, broken mountain landscapes at elevations between 3,000 and 8,000 feet. Males are much larger than females and differ in color and horn structure. An adult Himalayan taal weighs 300 to 400 pounds and stands 2.5 to 3 feet tall. Nanny (female) weighs only 45-55 lbs. This is one of the largest differences in “mating” ratios between any mammal in the world. The Himalayan tahr is a herbivore, subsisting on alpine “grass” grasses and shrubs. Himalayan Tal can be found in herds of 2-25 animals and can live up to 14 years in the wild.
What Makes a Trophy Bull Tahr?
The Bull Tahr has 8-9 inch horn bases and 10 to 14 inch sharp round curled horns. Tahr Hunters will judge a good trophy male by its long mane and horns, although record book scoring uses only the base horn diameter and length of the two horns combined below. Most Tahr hunting guides will look for horns longer than 11 inches. Tahr horns of 12.5 to 13.5 inches are considered above average for “trophies,” with horns over 14 inches being the exception. There are some New Zealand Talhorn over 15 inches and these usually fall into the SCI Top 10 record category.
When should I plan my Taal safari?
Like antelope hunting, taal hunting can be done in one year. The ideal time to hunt taal is late autumn and winter in New Zealand. Through winter taal hunting, the taal will have winter coats and manes. The Tahr’s mane can grow 5-8 inches from February to early June and become darker in color. Late May, June, July and August are ideal months for hunting Tahr and Antelope. The Tahr rut runs from late May to July, usually with the first snow of the season. Ruts are an excellent time for bow hunting. Taal can be hunted in March and April with red stag “roaring” or rutting, but hunters will have to work harder to find long manes with that time of year. Coats also get lighter in color before winter sets in.
What’s the best way to hunt New Zealand Tahr sheep?
Most Tal Hunting Hills can be reached by double track or fire trail. Hunters usually vitrify the mountainside again in the early morning and evening before descending to hunt, greeted by outfitter vehicles below. Tal hunting terrain ranges from 3-foot tall grass to rocky and shale hillsides. In most cases, this type of hunting is much less physically demanding than hunting goats or sheep. You should allow at least 2 days for rifle Thar hunting (in good weather) and 3-4 days for bow and arrow hunting for good specimens. You can easily double that amount of time if you strictly log your trophy hunts.
How about hunting Tal with a helicopter?
Helicopter-assisted taal hunting allows hunters to access more remote mountainous areas where excellent trophy animals are found. It also provides a greater guarantee of success if a hunter has limited time to hunt in New Zealand. Helicopter-assisted hunting can be an exciting option, with spectacular flights and the chance to score extraordinary trophies. It is important to note that helicopters are only used as a mode of transportation and animal rescue. Hunters are not allowed to shoot, drive or herd animals from the air. Tal hunters spotted their loot from a helicopter and were taken to an area when they could trace their location and track it on foot. This type of hunt does contain an element of caution, as you will be leaving a moving aircraft on an unknown mountain ledge.
What do I need to bring while hunting in Taal?
Most taal hunting is done at higher altitudes in the New Zealand Alps. Some of these hills are covered with grass 2-3 feet high, and others are rocky outcrops of rock and broken shale. Snow may also fall on these mountains from June onwards. Make sure you have a good pair of well-worn boots. Since you’ll likely be hunting in the snow, you’ll need boots that are insulated and waterproof. If you’re hunting grassy hillsides, wear a good pair of alligators. Alligator keeps snow or morning dew from getting wet and chilling your hunting pants. High-quality optics are essential. Buy the best “glass” you can afford. I recommend the binocular harness as it will come in handy when traversing shale and lost rock. This will keep your binoculars from bouncing around or worse, hitting rocks. Most Tahr rifle shots will be in the 150 to 250 yard range. A good rangefinder will come in handy for both rifle and bow hunters. At over 300 pounds, the Tahr is a nice sized trophy animal. I would recommend 7mm or larger and 164 grain or larger expandable bullets. A good 3,000 fps.30 caliber and 180 grain expandable bullet is ideal for Tal. Your rifle should be equipped with a good quality scope with a magnification of 3×9 or 2.5×10. I would also recommend a good backpack capable of carrying a rifle or bow. This will keep your hands free when traversing hills. If you are bow hunting, a good bow hunting guide can usually bring you within 40-50 yards of your Tahr during ruts. Taking the trophy Tahr is a bowing achievement. Give yourself extra hunting days. Your greatest challenge on a Tahr hunt will be the sitter sounding the warning whistle as you stalk your Bull Tahr.
How should I install my Tahr taxidermy?
I recommend that all Tahr hunters, especially first-time Tahr hunters, really think about how to install a Bull Tahr. The shoulder rest is the most economical taxidermy mount, but it really doesn’t properly show the long hairs on Tal’s mane. Here are our tips for your first (or only) Taal safari.
Let the guide shawl it for a full body installation. It will take you 4 months to ship the cape back to the US, and possibly another few months before your taxidermist sends it off for a tan. This will give you some extra time to decide (and save) whether you want to do a shoulder mount or a full body mount. If your guide is willing to mount it on the shoulders in the field, you’re out of options. The Full Bull Tahr mount is magnificent and will be the highlight of any hunter’s cave or trophy room. You might also want to consider taking Nanny Tahr. Some outfitters will let you get a sitter for a few hundred dollars while getting a bull Tahr for their standard booty fee. The Bull & Nanny Tahr is a great base.
Hunting consultants Global Sporting Safaris have the best opportunities for Taal Hunting in New Zealand. Whether you are a bow hunter, muzzle hunter, crossbow hunter or rifle hunter, we have the locations, guides and experiences to set you on the Thar hunting trip of a lifetime.
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