Hours after entering the land of the kiwi; MTN OPS CEO, Trevor Farnes was sitting down for a much needed warm meal in the Cardrona Safaris headquarters. As he described his 2 day journey to New Zealand and his hate of flying, Trevor was informed by the outfitter that he would be boarding a helicopter early the next morning. With only five days to hunt two of New Zealand’s most sought after species, there was no time to waste.
Within hours, Trevor and his guide Sam found themselves in a breathtaking basin surrounded by glaciers, eager to begin the search for a good bull tahr.
After situating two days worth of gear at base camp, they were on their way.
It didn’t take long before they had several bulls spotted at various locations throughout the drainage. Now the strategic planning began; trying to find the right bull in the right location that would lead to a safe and successful kill.
Before making a game plan, Trevor and Sam took a quick break to refuel and prepare for the intense hike ahead of them.
After hours of hiking through some extremely steep and slippery terrain, they were finally within shooting range.
Trevor situated his pack for a solid rest aiming straight uphill. A couple well-placed shots later, his bull was down.
The bull expired in a location that made an extraction by foot nearly impossible without the proper climbing equipment, so they decided to wait for the assistance of the helicopter the following morning.
They made their way back to base camp, ate dinner, told stories from the day’s hunt and jumped into their sleeping bags to dry off after sweating through all of their gear.
After a sleepless night, morning had finally arrived. Sam was able to acquire a satellite connection and request an extraction. Six hours later, the heli arrived and they began the search for Trevor’s bull.
Mark (the heli pilot) utilized his years of experience and skill to weave in and out of the narrow canyons, carefully maneuver to a drop-off point for Sam and eventually locate and retrieve the tahr out of the dangerous cliffs below. Another day on the job for Mark seemed like a “near death experience” for Trevor. He couldn’t wait to get back to the lodge to tell everyone about his experience in tahr country.
With his first tahr under his belt, it was time to switch gears. Trevor had a few days left to find a good stag and wanted to dedicate a day chasing them with a bow in hand. Stag country was a little different than what he had experienced in the days prior, but it was every bit as beautiful and unforgiving.
“Close, but no cigar” were Sam’s last words before calling it a day. They covered a lot of miles the first day with several close calls, but no luck.
More determined than ever, they set out again the next morning with their sights set on success. It didn’t come easy. After sprinting up and down mountains, bushwhacking through thorny brush that towered over their heads, and spending hours glassing; Trevor finally had his opportunity and wasn’t about to let it slip away.
Overcome with emotion, he couldn’t believe it was over. “My kids are going to be so proud of their dad,” Trevor exclaimed through his tears. Similar to the tahr hunt, the stag was in a very dangerous spot to pack out in the dark so they retrieved him in the morning. It worked out great because they were able to take photos with the entire group.
Out of Trevor’s good heart, he felt a lot of weight on his shoulders to get his stag that day in order to free up the last day of hunting for a big surprise.
He and Cardrona Safaris had planned to surprise MTN OPS’ Director of Multimedia, Colby Kendell with a stag hunt of his own. Colby came on this trip to video and photograph the adventure, with nothing else on his mind. He was speechless when presented with the exciting news.
Sam, Trevor, Colby and Shawn (another Cardrona guide) spent the entire next day trying to get on a good stag. With only one close call, they were still unsuccessful. As the sun started to go down it wasn’t looking like they were going to seal the deal and Sam was not about to give up. He sprinted down a crest to get a look over into one last ravine and spotted a good stag making his way down. Trevor, Colby and Shawn came down from the bottom to cut him off and waited. It was picture perfect, the stag made his way across the mountain side 250 yards away and that was that. It was a great ending to a great trip. Lessons were learned and a brotherhood was formed. This trip to New Zealand will never be forgotten and stories will be told for years to come.
Story and Photos by Colby Kendell | @colbydkendell