I was contacted by Safari Club International Foundation and informed that a Mr. McGinnis had bid on a hunt in New Zealand and won and was looking for a veteran to donate it to. I consider myself extremely lucky that that veteran was me. Thank you, Mr. McGinnis. You have no idea how honored I was to be a part this. Without question, it is the hunt of a lifetime.
I learned from others who had visited New Zealand to book our flight out of Los Angeles, California, shortening the flight time to Auckland to 13 hours or so. We enjoyed an overnight stay in Queenstown and were picked up the next day by Venator-Cardrona Safaris of Wanaka New Zealand. The scenic drive from Queenstown to Cardrona Safaris lodge was breathtaking, to say the least. Upon arrival at the lodge, we were escorted to our luxurious rooms by the gracious and caring staff.
The first day of the hunt it was my honor to be guided by owner and outfitter Mr. Duncan Fraser. Although I did not have an opportunity for a shot at a stag, I was once again amazed by the scenery that surrounded the hunting area. It was like I was in a different world. I could literally have sat down all day in the same spot, gazing over the high ridges and enjoying the beauty of New Zealand.
The second day I was guided by Josh, a young Canadian man who was well attuned to the red stag hunts. Josh had a great sense of humor. I could not have been with a better person. At 2 p.m., normally the time to head back, we had a maybe ten-second conversation and decided to stay in the bush until we found a stag.
Not surprisingly, at 4 p.m. we spotted four red stags. To get within shooting range, Josh and I had to close the distance with a vigorous stalk. Unfortunately, when I got into position, all four stags were staring at us. As fate would have it, the biggest one turned broadside and my aim was true. I was completely in awe at the magnificence of the stag I took.
The accommodations at Cardrona’s lodge are truly world class. In my travels around the world I have dined at some exceptional restaurants, but none can hold a candle to the dinners and breakfasts we enjoyed during our stay. My thanks to Mr. McGinnis, Safari Club International Foundation – Pathfinder Committee, SCI Lehigh valley Chapter and last but not least, Mr. Duncan Fraser and his great staff. My experience hunting New Zealand with Venator Cardrona Safaris was beyond my wildest dreams. –Paul Spurgin