The next morning, Zach picked up something special in the spotting scope. Zion pointed out the extra dark horns and uncommonly light face – a sharp contrast not usually seen in chamois. A deep valley separated predators from prey and as they watched, high mountain clouds rolled into the valley and eclipsed the world in a white cotton fog.
“Time to go,” Zion said, “fast, fast, fast,” and the two scampered to the valley floor. The clouds rolled out and the hunters took cover again. The alpine haze crept back in, and they cut the distance to 800 yards, then 400, then 200. When the clouds cleared a last time, Zach had the unique chamois in the scope, and a shot rang through the mountains.
“That is the chamois of my guiding career!” Zion said standing next to the white-faced buck. It wasn’t albino but an exceedingly rare white-color phase chamois, something the guides had all heard of but never seen in person.
“When the guide says you better get a full body mount, you know it’s a good one,” Zach laughed.
On their last three days in NZ, the Wentz Brothers switched to stag. Word had spread around a little village on Cook’s Saddle that an especially good one was skirting the edge of town. For Carson, the whole situation reminded him of hunting deer in North Dakota, bumping them out of the corn and shooting fast. It was even a farmer who first spotted the stag while out milking cows.
“My favorite part of hunting is definitely not the killing,” Carson said. “It’s the whole experience. The setup. The time watching the sun come up and experiencing God’s creation, noticing what we don’t always notice.”
New Zealand commands notice – from rolling foothills covered with tahr to craggy mountainsides that hold chamois and deep, dense forests crawling with stag. The Wentz brothers were hunting in the middle of the rut, and stags were locked down with four or five hinds. They responded to calls but weren’t moving. After several attempts to get on a shooter, nothing panned out.
Carson and Zion sat on a wide clearing in the jungle. The bulls weren’t working, so it was time to call it a hunt. Two great tahr and two great chamois weren’t a bad take, and by leaving a stag behind, the Wentz brothers had good reason to return soon.
As the hunters collected themselves, a commotion opened up in the brush. Carson and Zion just looked at each other as the sound grew louder. Then the stag appeared, a good one, running full hilt, four legs off the ground, head down, sprinting for the opposite tree line.
Carson scrambled, found and shouldered his rifle, ran the bolt. The stag was nearly back in the jungle when Wentz touched off the trigger, the shot cutting through the chaos as the red deer fell.
Zion looked stunned.
“How long did that take you, mate? From hearing that stag to shooting it? What was that, six seconds?”
“Maybe,” Carson smiled sheepishly. “I’m better in the chaos.”