Hunting in New Zealand
1 June 2019
By Ps Garth Chin Poy
Growing up in the Deep South, fishing and hunting small game with my Dad are some of the most enduring memories of adventure and connectivity I have. I always found it exhilarating to be exploring new places, checking out what was beyond the next ridge or around the next bend in the river. There was always a quickening of the pulse with the first tug on the end of the line, when you knew that a fish was on and a battle had begun. Or a sense of satisfaction when bringing home some bunnies to be cooked for dinner.
Now this may not be everybody’s idea of a great time, and there are varying views about the idea of hunting, ranging from the barbaric murdering of innocent creatures to a person’s right to be able to provide for their family. My passion has become the pursuit mostly of wild deer in New Zealand, which I consider to be one of our most majestic animals and I employ my own ethics in this arena. In fact, I consider myself a conservationist at heart with a true love for our wild places and I enjoy the reward of bringing home some truly organic, free range meat harvested in a humane way.
But this is not an article about the ethics of hunting, so I would like to tap into three areas of inspiration and fulfilment that have been experienced through my time in the wild places.
Adventures that exhilarate & challenge.
The exhilaration of exploring somewhere new, walking off the beaten track and pushing beyond your perceived limits is all part of the adventure attached to hunting. I love the sense of being somewhere no one else has been, drinking from the mountain streams, breathing in the aroma of the ancient forest. In fact I carry a fairly romanticised idea of being in the wild, but this is something that continues to draw me out into new adventures.
At times, whether it has been by myself or with others there have been some real tests of physical and mental capacity. Simply being out in the wilderness by yourself soon answers the question of whether or not you like your own company.
One of the most challenging moments came when I had managed to get stuck in the Fiordland bush without a headlamp whilst out hunting. Mistakenly, my torch was not in the pouch I thought, the weather had closed in and I was unprepared for a night in the wild only wearing shorts and a light top. After an eventful four hours of groping through the pitch black, I managed to find my way back to my kayak uninjured. But what at the time was a harrowing experience is now racked up to a great story of adventure.
An opportunity to connect with friends & God.
Sharing time and adventuring together with friends is one of the greatest and most enjoyable ways I have found of connecting together. The challenge of encouraging each other physically or the moments of humour and in-depth conversation around a campfire help establish a sense of comradery beyond what I would normally engage in by going to the movies, for example.
This is especially true as my son gets older; he is now eight and longing to share in adventures together. I have really enjoyed sitting under the stars and having some fascinating discussions simply because we have the time and space together without the distractions of modern life. We have talked about the death of the animals we have hunted and how to treat them with respect, why it is important to care for our environment, even why it is not possible to teleport back to the vehicle instead of having to carry the extra weight of a whole deer on our backs.
Then as a Christian and Senior Minister of a church, it's about having the space to be unplugged from emails, phone calls, texts, Messenger, Facebook, Instagram… (all things which we think increase our connectivity). To simply become aware of and spend time connecting with God outside of the general mix of daily activities is greatly rewarding.
The wonder & beauty of God’s creation.
Our wild places are some of the most stunning places of beauty in all creation and often simply being out bathing in the majesty of the mountains or being engulfed by the natural wonder of the forest is food for the soul.
One of the verses that has stuck with me from the Bible is Romans 1:20. It reads...
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
It is so easy after having done the hard slog to get to where you are going, to simply sit down and drink in the amazing landscape and ponder the things of creation. Often when hunting, I get into full focus and all my senses are attuned acutely to the task at hand and everything else fades out of focus. I have some favourite places to go which continually take my breath away and cause me to stop in wonder.
There are so many accessible areas around New Zealand to get out and explore and a good number of huntable species ranging from rabbits, goats, pigs, tahr, chamois and deer. Our backyard is full of exciting adventures, beautiful places, great times of connectivity and delicious rewards.
Why not give it a go, and get out and explore some of it? Most hunter-gatherers are only more than happy to bring someone new along with them and introduce them to the same sense of adventure.
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