Recently I was given the opportunity to visit the Lunn family’s hunting block ‘Hunting Opotiki’ a hunter’s paradise situated 30minutes south of Opotiki. With 400 acres of native guts, manuka faces, grass clearings with fallow and red deer roaming freely, there was certainly no hesitation in taking up Dave’s offer.
Having a four-year-old son who is mad keen on tagging along with dad on all my adventures, I thought this would be a great opportunity for Isaac to experience his first deer stalking adventure.
So Isaac, Poppa, and I headed off from Thames and arrived late afternoon at the lodge to be greeted by Dave who was finishing off some final touches to his newly renovated lodge, immediately we felt welcomed and were shown around the property. The Lunns have created the perfect balance between top quality comfort and a unique kiwi hunting experience. The lodge features all modern house-ware equipment and has two bedrooms with bunk beds set up sleeping four in each room, a comfortable lounge and a veranda overlooking grass clearings where deer are spotted regularly and a running stream below. It’s the perfect place to unwind after a day of hunting.
After a rundown of the lodge, it was time to explore the property. The 400-acre block has 4×4 and quad bike access making it accessible for all ages and the entire property is ring-fenced for safety satisfaction. We all piled into Dave’s 4×4 and made our way up the bulldozed track to the top of the block, on our way we spotted a number of deer shooting off into the scrub and spotted some nice stags sunning themselves on the opposite sides of the gullies. At the top sits the famous ‘Rock Hut’; a hut built into the side of the hill moulded around volcanic boulders, with expansive views of the ranges in the distance, which we explored before we ventured back down to the lodge.
By this time the sun was slowly starting to go down which was the perfect time to head off along the bottom flats in search of a bit of meat for the freezer and hopefully a nice spotted skin to try my hand in tanning. Dave gave us a quick safety briefing and description of where we would likely find shootable animals and we were off on foot. It wasn’t long until we came across a couple of chocolate yearlings and hinds which we had the opportunity to have a crack at but thought we would carry on in search of a spotted young stag.
Isaac pointed out five fallow stags together that he could see in the distance about 400m away but getting close enough for a shot was the challenge! As we closed the gap, the deer had spotted us and moved high up in the scrub, so the decision was made to climb the ridge to see if we could get one last shot at them before dark. I made it to roughly three-quarters of the way up the face when I spotted the first stag, a mature fallow heading across the top of a slip at the head of the gully followed by four other stags, two being young prickets with beautiful spotted coats, just what I was after!
I got in position and calmed my breathing and gave out a quiet whistle stopping the stags for a split sec as I squeezed off my shot. After a little stumble, the stag was over and rolling down the slip towards me, YES, nailed it with a clean heart shot!
Pop and I dressed the animal and made our way down the steep face where Isaac and Dave met us with the quad for the short trip back to the lodge. Isaac was very excited and was telling us all about the close encounters he had with deer.
What an awesome afternoon, topped off with a few coldies and a barbecue on the veranda in the comfort of the lodge.
Whether you are after some meat for the freezer, looking for that trophy head, or to get the kids away from the computer games and experience a New Zealand hunting adventure, Hunting Opotiki caters for all levels of hunters and offers plenty of opportunities to take an animal home. Topped off with great hospitality and superb comfort at a very reasonable price. If this sounds like you, give Dave a call on 0211472979, or visit their website www.huntingopotiki.com.