Tuesday, July 5, 2022

‘Experience of a lifetime’

Alan eased into the trophy industry learning from the guides who initially brought in the hunters.

In 1989 they hosted their first paying client, champagne maker Daniel Le Brun who shot a Red stag and fallow and came back the following year for more.

The Stewarts took on overall running of the business and started attending US hunting conventions and trade shows in 1995. Participation at such events, usually held in January, is important in maintaining relationships and keeping front of mind with their mostly American client base.

Alan recalls attendance at the first as being “daunting”.

“We spent $10,000 attending the show, including travel, managed to snag one client who spent $10,000, so that recouped our travel. We had to be happy with that.”

Now Alan and Sue attend the main SCI show, usually held in Reno, but leave the other four or five shows to Rachel and Olly who took over management of the trophy business three years ago.

Most years they cater for 60 to 70 parties, but sometimes up to 100.

The actual hunting season begins at the end of February and runs until the beginning of August. It’s a full-on, daylight-to-dark working time during which a cook, cleaner and up to four extra guides are employed.

Rachel says a shortage of good New Zealand guides is a problem: “We need to get new blood in the business.”

 

A typical hunt lasts five to seven days during which clients might hunt Red stag, fallow, wapiti, wild goats, wild boar and Arapawa rams. Those after chamois are taken inland to Maungawera Lodge near Lake Wanaka for hunting on a privately owned 20,000-plus hectare block. Hunters after tahr are taken up the Rangitata Gorge.

Rachel, an experienced hunter, is proud of being part of a family-run business and says it’s a compelling point of difference for clients.

As well as tailoring the hunt to suit the clients’ fitness level and animal aspirations, the Burkes entertain accordingly any non-hunting accompanying family or friend.

“Our aim is to provide an experience of a lifetime and not one exclusively about hunting,”

 

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