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Late spring and with itchy feet to get into the South Island high country a mate Dean and I hatched a plan to take his dogs south in hope we could run into a few hogs enjoying the late spring growth. For me this time of year is tricky as the hinds are almost ready to drop fawns, and the stags are growing velvet; none of which are an ideal target species just yet. Looking over a few maps, I mentioned to Deano about a trip I had done way back when I was 18-19 into the then private St James Station in the North Canterbury region. We flew in and stayed 8-9 nights around two huts, mainly based out of a very old “Stanley Vale” hut. An old homestead built in 1866 by Joseph Young out of horse hair, mud and timber and William Longley Fowler farmed the area from 1866-1892. Its a place steeped in history and full of pigs!

(Back when cameras weren’t so good, our 2003 trip outside Stanley Vale Hut)st james(Few pigs we caught on the 2003 trip outside Lake Guyon Hut)st james2Day 1:

We booked the ferry, loaded the ute with mountain bikes and dogs and hit the road, eventually pulling up at the car park in the very early hours of the morning ready for our 10km bike ride into the first hut “Lake Guyon”. The day was a cracker as we headed south towards the lake and as day broke we stopped for a break and a glass and before long we had spotted our first animals for the trip; a hind and yearling about 1500m away enjoying the early morning sun before feeding back into cover to bed up for the day. Carrying on we arrived at Lake Guyon in good time, unloaded some gear and got stuck into a bit of high country fishing.. The lake was teaming with fish they were everywhere! While we passed the day by throwing some spinners around we ran into an old chap who goes by the name of Sean who was travelling via horse, he was staying at the next hut “Stanley Vale” about two hours away and had been in there for the past two months trapping possums for their skins. He mentioned we were wasting our time around the first hut as “it gets hammered”… “guys on quads are in here every weekend” and he invited us to head down to Stanley Vale to stay with him where the hunting should be a little better..

Ready to hit the trail 2015!IMG_2405Lake Guyon is full of fish and a great spot to unwindIMG_2393We packed up all of our gear and headed to Stanley, arriving around 6pm; Sean mentioned he knew where a pig or two might be and was happy to join us for an evening hunt. Right on dark the dogs hit a good pig on a scrub covered face only to have it run through a mob of smaller pigs and we ended up with one of them instead! They’re cunning those old boars.. Oh well still good fun and we had some meat for the next few days to keep us going.

Stanley Vale Hut 2015IMG_2374Day 2:

Sean had a few possums to skin from the day before and offered to take us to another big gully about 8km away that usually held a boar. Long story short, after a massive day covering a good 25km no pigs we seen or caught although we did see a few deer which was great considering the pressure it gets from a local heli hunter. On the way back we grabbed the little pig chucked it on the horse and headed for the hut.

Sean Jameson the famous St James possum trappersean1Sean on the horse with no name crossing the Stanleysean2One of the wise local hinds heading for coversean3Day 3:

She was a late start, the weather had been shit all night and while we wanted to get out for a big mission that morning the weather put those ideas to bed. Eventually the weather came right and I planned to head out that evening to another area to look for a deer while Dean went back to the lake to try catch us a trout or two for dinner. I left the hut around 3pm and by 4.30pm I’d spotted two Spikers 1km away enjoying the spring growth on a sheltered little clearing. As I was keeping an eye on them the weather started to turn, little drizzle turned into rain so I packed up my gear and made a beeline for the deer..

The two spikers out feeding in the rainIMG_2302They eventually turned broadside allowing for a clean shotsean4I closed the gap to around 200m then had a 50m crawl through some scrub onto a prominent rock that should make for a good shooting platform. Setting up the .270 I peered over the rock and sure enough both deer were still feeding despite the rain now falling steadily. With the cameras all set up I loaded the old girl and waited what seemed like hours for the spiker to finally turn broadside and give me a clear shot at his shoulder. Eventually he did and I sent the 140gr SST on its way. At the shot he leaped into the air and disappeared out of sight. I was confident of a solid hit but I couldn’t see him from the rock so packing up I headed over to make sure he was down. Getting there he hadn’t gone 5m but the angle had meant I couldn’t see him from my position. I set about gutting him when a call come over the radio as the boys had heard the shot. “What you get bro?”Just shot a spiker I replied, “Sweet Sean said he’ll bring the horse over in the morning to get him out” Mint! I thought so I got to work tiding him up and letting him air overnight to allow the meat to cool and we’ll be back in the morning.

Bit of meat to take home after a big couple of days, spotted from the clay pan in the backgroundIMG_2323Day 4:

Again it rained all night so once it cleared we headed over to collect the deer along with the horse who’s name by the way was “the horse with no name”; an amazing horse that you can leave wandering while you checked out a spot for 3 hrs knowing he would be there when you returned. We got the deer all loaded and headed back to the hut for some lunch and that evening we went looking for pigs with the dogs but only managed a small pig again right on dark. The place definitely isn’t how it was way back when we hunted it 10+ years ago.. access has become very easy and guys now take quads and 4×4 utes into the area which has seen the hunting decline massively, but in saying that anyone willing to get away from the easy spots should still do well.

The horse with no name saving the lads a jobsean 6The local Stanley Vale tree makes for a great chillerIMG_2358Day 5:

We were up early and heading for the home, the bikes were back at the first hut so we had about a 2hr walk to collect them then a 2hrs bike ride to the D-Max. Sean been the good buggar he is offered to load all of our meat and gear onto the horse and pack it back to the ute for us which made the walk and ride a 100 times easier! Eventually we made the ute and thanked Sean for his great hospitality and showing us around.. a true legend of the bush this man, he had more stories than Roald Dahl and a top bloke to boot.. So Thanks Sean and all the best until next time! Check out the video of this hunt below or press the play button at the top of the page.. thanks for reading

Ben

Heading home…sean7D-Max fully loaded and making her way out of the Waiausean8Video below feel free to check it out.