Nearly 2 years ago I planned a red stag hunt. Finally, the long awaited trip came this spring and I packed my bags for the North Island of New Zealand, a half-hour outside of Gisborne. The country is absolutely beautiful.
I met up with BJ Holdsworth of Ample Hunting—a beautiful, small, family-owned operation. His wife, Annabelle, made us delicious home-cooked meals each day and we had our own living quarters to stay in during the hunt. There was even a 3-D range and a covered archery range on the property to double-check our bows after extensive travels. We had more than 10 sq. miles of private land to work with—most of which his family owns—and my plan was to do the entire hunt spot-and-stalk style. (We were also able to take several Merriam’s turkeys along the way.)
We arrived in early March, which is slightly before the red stag rut, but BJ and I both felt this would be the best opportunity to do a successful spot-and-stalk hunt, as the stags would either be on their own or in bachelor groups.
We spotted a tremendous stag feeding one morning several hundred yards away from a high vantage point. We made our plan and slowly stalked through the timber to reach the giant stag. During the stalk he actually bedded down, which actually improved our odds of closing the distance. BJ and I snuck into 70 yards, then ran out of timber to use as cover. We decided that I should go the rest of the way on my own, while he watched from the last tree.
I crawled down into position and got within 35 yards of the bedded stag. I waited for him to stand; he turned around once, getting up from his bed. He spooked. Luckily, he only made a couple bounds and turned to look back—big mistake. I was already at full draw and delivered a new Rage X-Treme broadhead before he had a chance to get away. BJ watched him go down after a brief 100-yard dash. I’m proud to say I was the first person to ever shoot an animal with the new X-Treme; after taking a trophy-quality big-game animal like this, it’s clear the broadhead lives up to its name.
After getting up to the stag there was no ground shrinkage, just ground growth! This was a huge stag—even BJ, a seasoned stag guide, was blown away. The stag ended up scoring 474 3/8 (SCI scoring system), which put me No. 1 in the world at the time for stag with a bow for a woman. It also landed me No. 6 in the world overall for an archery kill. However, the world record was broken again last week by another woman, so now I’m technically No. 2 and No. 7. Regardless, I held the record for a while and the fantastic animal will always be a blessing to remember.
Stay tuned for the entire thrilling video of the hunt that I'll share Friday, May 4, right here in my "Hardcore Huntress" blog as a T.G.I.H! (Thank God I'm Hunting!) episode of "My Take."