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Destination New Zealand

The grand slam was over. In fact, I almost didn’t pull the trigger on that Florida bird because I didn’t want it to end. Every turkey hunter loves to plan trips and find new turkey land. And, once the spring is over, you may wonder what’s next. I looked toward New Zealand for the answer.
My trip started in late October, which is actually spring in New Zealand. After arriving in Gisborne, a town located on the eastern seaboard of New Zealand’s North Island, I met my guide John Wolf from Paradise Hunters. John and I took a three-hour ride down the seaboard to Hawke Bay and then headed inland to the sheep ranch where we would be hunting.
We arose the next morning to an overcast and rainy day. As we all know, spring means turkey hunting in the rain — no matter where you go. We started out at a spot where John knew some turkeys were roosted. As it became light out, I could not believe my eyes — the beautiful mountain terrain was green as green could get. As I was taking in the beauty, John was trying to get my attention. He said we needed to relocate because our morning setup was not going to pay off.
As we moved on we heard a tom gobbling off in the distance and saw a hen moving in a draw below us. We moved in on the tom and tried a few setups with no luck. As the gobbler was pulled away by the hen, it became apparent that hen turkeys south of the equator didn’t mind spoiling a hunt in much the same way as their northern-hemisphere counterparts.
Later in the morning we spotted two toms gobbling and feeding down a hill along a fencerow. We tried to set up in a strategic calling position, but as we were moving we bumped the birds and split them up. I thought the game was up until one bird put himself in position for us to establish a good setup that would allow us to work him. After several calls had invoked thunderous gobbles from the tom, he finally strutted his way to within 15 yards — and I ended up with my first New Zealand longbeard.
Later that day, after stopping by the farmhouse to dry off and grab a cup of tea, we headed back out in search of more turkeys. The ranch we were hunting was huge, and it literally was home to thousands of sheep. As we were driving around on the ATVs, we saw some nice red stags, a lot of feral goats and, of course, a ton of sheep.
We stopped the quads and hiked to the top of a hill so we could do some glassing. At the time, I was living in Colorado and had the opportunity to take advantage of the great views the Rocky Mountains had to offer, but this scenery was nothing short of breathtaking.
As I glassed the surrounding area, I saw mobs of turkeys everywhere I looked. In fact, only one other time had I seen numbers of turkeys like this, and that was in South Dakota. Much like the landscape, it was unbelievable.
John and I eventually spotted some nice toms and decided to go after them. We hiked to a spot we felt was a good setup location and called, but we were a just little too far away for the birds to hear us. So, John and I split up, and we each called from our respective locations. As luck would have it, the toms worked their way right toward me. The birds actually came so close that when I squeezed the trigger on the longbeard directly in front of me, I had time for a second shot at another tom. Wow, I had shot three toms in one day! And, as a result, New Zealand was my new favorite place to hunt turkeys. READER 1.jpg
John came over to see the toms and congratulated me. After some quick photos, we loaded up the birds and headed back to the farmhouse to have dinner and reflect on the day’s hunt.
I would recommend New Zealand to anyone who is looking for an exhilarating turkey hunting trip, whether they have completed a grand slam or are just looking for a new experience.

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