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A Bowhunters Dream With Wildside Hunting Safaris New Zealand

Posted on 16/09/2015 by Gerald

A Bowhunters Dream ‐ Wildside Huntng Safaris
In terms of a reference , there would be no way for me to provide stronger words in support of the Wildside Operation. Gerald Fluerty and team absolutely deliver on their promises. As Gerald told us in his understated way – “I try to be as honest as possible. What I tell my hunters is what I deliver.” This could not be more true. As an archery hunter who has been guided in many parts of the world, there are a few keys to a successful hunt.
1. Game rich environment
2. Topography and landscape conducive to the hunting style desired (spot and stalk in this
3. Knowledgeable, honest and hard‐working guides
4. Good meals, good conversation
5. Accommodations – aka Happy Wife
Unfortunately I have experienced far too many hunts over the years that did not deliver on one or more of my 5 keys to success. Wildside was perfect across all fronts. From the time we opened the front gate, we were encountering pursuable animals. Red Stag, Rams, Fallow, Sika and Turkeys were encountered virtually every day we pursued them. The number of trophy stags on Gerald’s operation was unbelievable. As my hunting partner and I traded opportunities on trophy stags, we were amazed at the constant pursuit Gerald was able to provide us. The stags were roaring in every direction. There was not a minute in the field when we were not pursuing a specific stag and the stag was out of reach (always close – not necessarily in a position to be harvested). If you enjoy hunting elk (which we do), this is like elk hunting on steroids. Where elk may provide one good pursuit a day, your days with Gerald and team will provide 5 or 6. After we both harvested our stags, we turned our attention to fallow, sika and rams. The rams were definitely harvestable and provided a good challenge allowing both of us to be successful, once again. The sika and fallow deer, although plentiful, provided a much greater challenge with the bow, which is the way it should be. I had a number of close calls in the two days I dedicated to the two species but could not close the deal. That said, it was some of the most enjoyable spot and stalk hunting I have ever done. There is no doubt this is a game rich environment.
As all spot and stalk hunters know, the terrain can make or break your success. Gerald’s ranches are ideal for spot and stalk. Although there are a number of dense areas (the “bush” as the Kiwis like to call it), there were plenty of open hay fields tucked into the timber with ample opportunities to slip around on game. Most unbelievable was how quiet the bush floor could be. Given the fauna in New Zealand, the leaves and droppings from the trees are very quiet, again allowing for super quiet stalking. As we all know, this is not possible in the fall or winter in much of the rest of the world.
As it relates to guides, Gerald and Kevin were as good as it gets. They were completely knowledgeable about the game, its habits, the ranches, hunting strategies, etc. I was amazed at their knowledge and understanding of where the game would be, how to approach it, how to change strategy on the fly, when to be aggressive (great ram stalk with Kevin) and when to be passive (let the game come to us). I especially appreciated their patience and support when deciding on an animal and deciding when (or
not) to take the shot. Neither Gerald nor Kevin ever pushed me for a quick or ill‐advised shot. Their entire focus was on making the hunting experience a good one. After the shot, they were extremely proficient in locating the game, working with us to position the animal for the best pictures and then removing the animal from the field. As a side benefit, Kevin actually runs a bow shop in Auckland. In addition to providing counsel and guidance on equipment, he was able to provide a few useful tips on technique and form along the way.
Unlike hunting operations where the hunters are segregated or set up in the woods, Gerald and Brenda (his lovely wife) actually welcome you directly into their home. The cooking was extremely good with solid meals prepared every day, every meal. We were never hungry. The entire family (and their friends) joined us for meals. Sitting at the dinner table, it was very comforting to see their family together and to take part in conversations. Having never been to New Zealand before, the entire family went out of their way to discuss their home country with pride, the customs, the animals, politics, music ‐ you name it, we covered it. We even enjoyed a little New Zealand wine at the dinner table.
This was the first hunting trip my wife has accompanied me. New Zealand seemed like the perfect place although I must admit to being a little nervous. I knew that if she did not have a good time, I would not have a good time. I also knew that more than just this trip was at stake as I hope to take many more hunting trips with the family. She was extremely happy from the very beginning. We were traveling with another couple so Gerald set us up in a comfortable little 2 bedroom 2 bath log cabin just around the corner from his home. The cabin was fully stocked (food, wine, tv, etc) and could not have been more comfortable for us. It provided just the right amount of privacy for the girls while still keeping them close the action. After a little research and discussion with the team, we developed a great itinerary for the spouses which included hiking around volcanoes, shopping in town, private flight around the area, hot springs, photo tour of the ranch, etc. Both of our wives thoroughly enjoyed the Wildside experience and would be happy to come back. Do not hesitate to make your trip a family affair as there is something for everyone to do.
At the end of the day, Gerald and the Wildside operation totally delivered on the hunting experience and their proposition. Making the decision to hunt in New Zealand was a big one – both in terms of time and financially. As such, ensuring the experience is one that is never forgotten is key. Although I will have a couple of huge mounts on the wall to remember my time in New Zealand, it is the memory of the hunts (successful or not), the dinner table conversation and the tremendous hospitality of Kiwis that will last with me forever.
Gerry D. Dixon, Partner Ernst & Young gerryddixon@yahoo.com 1‐917‐834‐2364


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