One of the premium hunts included in our Sportsman’s News Pro Membership Sweepstakes is our Dall Sheep Hunt and the very first one we gave away was awarded to Troy Holm, of Nebraska. A phone call to the lucky winner was as exciting for me as it was for him, as I was scheduled to be on this trip with him as well.
Our initial conversation was just what I expected. It went something like this, “Mr. Holm, you won a Dall Sheep hunt in Alaska for the fall of 2016”. He responded with “#@%$, you have to be joking, I never win anything”. I’ve come to realize that this is pretty common for most of our winners. I then provided him the details of the trip and let him know that an email would soon arrive with more info.
Several days passed and I got a message from Mr. Holm asking if it was possible to change this trip to something else. I couldn’t imagine not wanting to go sheep hunting, but that’s just me. When I got him on the phone, he said that he had always dreamed of going to New Zealand to hunt the roaring red stag. He asked if we could trade out his sheep hunt for a red stag for him and his wife. I figured that we could easily sell the sheep hunt, which was already paid for and roll it into the New Zealand trip when we could all go. Troy was very cooperative in the timeframe, as long as he could do the swap and with a few phone calls, I was able to add another couple to our already booked trip in the spring of 2017.
We would be hunting with long time Platinum Approved Outfitter, Lindsey Frasier and Woodbury Safari’s Lodge on the South Island of New Zealand. We scheduled the trip for the latter part of April, which would put us on the tail-end of the stag roar and the front-end of the tahr rut. We had hit our schedule absolutely perfect when we arrived. The fall colors were just starting to set in on the mountains, while the farmland along the coast was still bright green.
We arrived at the world famous, Woodbury Lodge, which is a couple of hours drive from the Christchurch airport. This is a prestigious, 11,000 square foot lodge, with each guest having their own private suite, with bath. The lodge is adorned by trophies from the New Zealand area, as well as many from the United States. The main lodge and dining area is where you spend most of your time at the lodge, with a huge fireplace, bar and dining table, which comfortable seats 20 people. Hosts, Kim and Lindsey Frasier, as well as a full supporting staff are at the lodge to take care of all of your needs or desires. To say that this place has all the comforts of home would be an understatement. It is truly a world class destination.
Troy’s wife, Emily, was chosen to be our first shooter and even though we had paid for a silver medal stag in the 330-360 inch range, Troy decided to upgrade her stag to a 380-400 class stag. Travis McClintic would be our guide for the week. He spends the majority of his time in Michigan, but guides in New Zealand every year from February through June. He had already guided several stag hunts on the block where we would be hunting on our first day and he knew of a few heavy horned stag that would be in that 380-400 mark, meeting Emily’s desires.
We started the first morning off at the range so that Emily and Troy could get a little more familiar with the ranch’s rifles. They had chosen not to bring their own rifles and although it is a fairly simple process to import your rifles, about half of the hunters choose to use these rifles. A couple of shots each and we were off to hunt.
We quickly set up our spotting scopes and started picking out the open hillsides. Although the roar was at the tail end, this cool morning was stirring the last bit of rutting activity. The roars carried all up and down the valley and got every stag fired up. As the sun started to light up the hillside, we were able to see the stag who was making the roars. Lots of smaller stag in that silver medal area were still trying to get into the action, but it appeared that the big stag had come to the conclusion that the rut was over and they were comfortable in their position to lay in a sunny bed and roar. After several hours of spotting, Trevor finally found a pair of stag in a stalkable position.
We left a couple of folks in the spotting position while the rest of us went around to participate in the stalk and film the experience. Although the mountain was steep and a slow process, the stag cooperated and stayed put until we were almost into position. As we got around the hill, both stag got to their feet and started feeding away. We hastily got Emily into position and at 310 yards, she squeezed the trigger only to have the shot sail high. Fortunately for us, they had no idea where the shot came from and quickly settled down. We helped get Emily into a more comfortable shooting position and she made a precise heart shot at 387 yards, anchoring the big stag. Everyone got a good feeling of how steep the mountain was as we approached the downed stag. The 387 yards took us well over 30 minutes to cover, before Emily could put her hands on her prize.
The monarch was just short of 400” SCI and made for a world class trophy and fulfilled her lifelong dream of harvesting a red stag in New Zealand. Troy knew that it was his turn next to hunt, but we would save that for another day, as it was going to take the better part of this day to get Emily’s trophy back to the lodge.
As we came off the mountain, we spied a giant red stag. He was too far to go after on this day, but Trevor said he was a true giant and would likely score over 500” SCI. It was obvious that a stag of this quality was something that captivated Troy and some coaxing by his wife that night had Troy committed to upgrading his trophy to something of this class. Since the hunt was already paid for, it was like just paying for a trip to New Zealand, but he would now be able to harvest a true trophy of a lifetime.
Trevor said that he had seen two other stag at another hunting block which he wanted Troy to see before he pulled the trigger. So, the next morning, we were off to another ranch. This place wasn’t quite as large, but the uniqueness of the terrain made it very interesting. The stag knew how to use the topography to their advantage as well. After walking around for several hours, we had only seen two stag and none the caliber Troy was looking for.
As the heat of the day approached, we spied one of the giants Trevor had been looking for. He was a monster stag with double drop tines. He was breathtaking, but smart and easily dropped off the hill and disappeared underneath us without providing a shot opportunity. As evening approached, Trevor finally spotted a bull in the shadows. We pulled out the spotting scope to reveal a giant red stag. He was north of 500” and everything that Troy was looking for. However, he was too far away for a shot and our attempt to get closer spooked the wily warrior.
We made a mad dash down the ridge in hopes of catching the giant and his buddy going across the flat and out of the trees. We waited and waited, but they never showed themselves. Trevor snuck back up the ridge to see if he had circled back on us and sure enough, he had given us the old double back. However, he was holed-up in an area that he felt Troy could possibly get a decent shot at him. Thirty minutes later, Troy was laid out in the prone position, with the big stag just under 300 yards away, feeding. With less than thirty minutes of daylight left, Troy squeezed the trigger and put the end to a lifelong dream of a New Zealand red stag of epic proportions.
But with the perfectly placed shot from Troy, the stag then tumbled off of a cliff and out of sight. We all held our breath in hopes that he wouldn’t break any points. We were scrambling to get to the last resting place with some daylight. Fortunately, the stags’ fall put him just a few yards above an old road, which Trevor knew well. We drove right to the big stag and as we approached, he literally took my breath away. He was a true giant and a trophy of a lifetime. As we drug him into position for photos, we were happy to see that his magnificent rack was still intact from the fall. We snapped photos and were fortunate enough to load this giant into the truck, whole.
The next day, we were able to officially tape this guy out and he stretched the tape at a whopping 519” SCI. Troy and Emily Holm definitely made the most of their Pro Membership Sweepstakes good fortune and even more so with their upgrade to Gold Medal status for their stags.
The Sportsman’s News Pro Membership Sweepstakes will offer another hunt with Lindsey Frasier and Woodbury Safaris Lodge in 2018, with the hunt taking place in 2019. Don’t miss your opportunity to win this Red Stag/Tahr combo hunt for one hunter and a guest as well as $300,000 worth of other great trips, guns and gear by entering at www.promembershipsweepstakes.com