In New Zealand, this was totally different. So in hindsight what are my thoughts?I was hunting with someone that I had never met before in person. Further, I was paying him. I did not know the terrain, I had never seen a Tahr, other than at Sydney Zoo and in magazines, let alone experienced their behavior. And, I had never hunted high alpine conditions in the depth of winter.
Four weeks prior to departure Matt’s wife said “you must be getting excited.” It will likely surprise most when I replied “No, I am pretty apprehensive.” I was under no illusions of what I was getting myself into; for me, the unknown. On West Coast Tahr, I knew four fifths of sweet fuck all. And this is how it panned out.It turns out that guides, of many years’ experience, often still feel the pressure of making the hunt a success for the client.
For you it is likely different to the next hunter. We are all different and our drives vary. For me, it was for the entire visual, physical and emotional experience of the country, the weather, the hunt, the challenges and as it turned out, even when I didn’t expect it, the fear. The raw gut wrenching fear of death itself, from slipping or falling hundreds of metres in New Zealand’s West Coast mountains.I had never experienced anything like it in my life. The terrain was stunningly awesome but menacingly steep and precipitous. I had experienced fear of death once before when I was 28 and diagnosed with testicular cancer. But this was different. It was visceral. I was in control and only I could determine the outcome. And further, I had two kids back over the ditch relying on me to come home.
What was I to do? Somewhere I found the ability to trust a man I had known only for 36 hours and to push through the fear, and the fear of failure, and slowly build confidence and experience in this terrain. And the fear of failure - was in my mind only. My guide wasn’t pushing me on. If I said “enough” he would have known it was. It was, and is all down to the individual’s decision.Yet fear was an aspect of the hunt that I had never considered. It’s like parenthood; you can’t understand the challenges till you have lived them.Then when it comes down to game time, your guide has done his part, and you are focused on the target through your sights you may think it is all on you now.