The Himalayan Tahr, also known as the New Zealand Tahr, was introduced in 1904 to 1906 to the Southern Alps. First regarded as a pest, the government tried controlling the herds using government aircraft and sharpshooters. However, in the last 20 years, the unwanted pest has become something else entirely – a valuable, renewable resource for local and overseas hunters looking for the perfect trophy.
How To Recognize the New Zealand Tahr
The New Zealand Tahr is regarded as a majestic animal, with a long, “lion-like” mane that blows in the wind of the hillside rocky outcroppings. When chased, the animal will take to climbing to get away, retreating to the steep New Zealand Alpines to call home where they feel safe. They live in mountainous regions 3,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level.
The animal is closely related to the free-range mountain goat. They have flexible, rubbery hooves that enable them to cling to smooth rocks. The hooves also have a sharp rim that ensures they have a foothold on what they are climbing. The bull New Zealand Tahr is larger than the female has different horn structures and colorations, can weigh anywhere from 300 to 400 pounds, and has a height of up to three feet tall.
The female New Zealand Tahr typically weighs no more than 55 pounds – a considerable difference compared to other animals.
- They are herbivores and snack on the tussock shrubs and grasses.
- They usually roam in herds of two to 25 animals.
- They can live to 14 years old when they live in their natural habitat.
How to determine a Tahr Hunting Trophy
Trophy Tahr has an eight to nine-inch horn base with a 10 to 14-inch sharp round curled horn. An experienced Tahr hunter can quickly determine what makes a good trophy Tahr by looking at the horns and mane. However, a record book scoring often used a mix of the length and diameter of both horns. Most Tahr hunters will seek out bulls with an 11-inch or more horn. An above-average trophy Tahr is one where the horn is 12.5 to 13.5 inches. The best ones are Tahr horns of more than 14 inches.
There are recorded instances of 15-inch horns on the New Zealand Tahr.
Plan a Successful Tahr Hunting Trip
The great thing about Tahr hunting is that it can be done any time of the year, but the best time is in late fall or winter. That’s because the Tahr’s mane and coats are thick. A Tahr’s name grows up to eight inches from February to early June, turning dark in color as it grows.
The best times to go hunting for the Tahr is between June and September when snow is likely. During the rut, you can go bow-hunting.
Tahr hunting in New Zealand can be done during March and April, along with the red stag roar, but finding a long-maned Tahr is a bit tricky, and their coats are usually lighter in color.
Finding the Right Tahr Hunting Area
When Tahr hunting, you can access the area via fire trails or two-tracks the mountain tops. Most hunters will get up the mountainside in the early mornings and late afternoon and are picked up by the vehicle at the bottom as they hike downward. The terrain where Tahr roam involves three feet fall tussock grass and rocky hillsides.
Tahr hunting isn’t as physically demanding as other hunts, such as sheep or mountain goat hunting. You can spend two days with a rifle for Himalayan Tahr hunting and three to four days if you’re using a bow. If you’re aiming for a record trophy New Zealand Tahr, double the time you spend hunting for them.
Can You Use a Helicopter For Tahr Hunting?
Hunting the Tahr via a helicopter does allow you to get to the more remote areas of the mountains, which is usually where the trophy Tahr can be found. Success is generally found through this method if you don’t have much time to spend in New Zealand.
With this method, you can also see the sights of the land while you hunt for that trophy Tahr. Remember that you should only use the helicopter to get where you need to go and transport your animal back. You can find your trophy animal and be placed in an area that allows you to pursue them on foot.
However, this kind of hunting must be done cautiously as you are placed in an unknown region of a mountain. You will be hunting with your Kiwi guide, who knows the rules of the mountain.
Tahr Hunting Essentials
The landscape of a Tahr hunt involves a high elevation of the New Zealand Alpines, with some mountains covered with two to three feet tall Tussock Grass and others that have broken shale and outcroppings of rocks. And in June, these rocks could be covered by snow.
Therefore, have boots you have previously used and are well-insulated. If you’re going to hunt the mountainside of tussock grass, you want some excellent gators, as it will ensure the morning dew or snow keeps off your pants from getting you cold and wet.
Make sure to get the best possible binoculars and harness you can afford. You want to bring binoculars that give you the field of view you need to find the trophy Tahr, and a harness will protect the binoculars when you’re making your way across the rocky mountainside.
Most Tahr hunting rifle shots will be in the 150-to 250-yard range, and since a good trophy Tahr weighs around 300 pounds, you want to go with a 7mm or larger rifle with a 164-grain or larger expandable bullets. The best is the 3,000fps .30 caliber with a 180-grain expandable bullet.
Ensure your rifle has a high-quality scope with a 2.5x10 or 3x9 magnification.
Whether you use a bow or rifle, bring a backpack. This frees up your hands to hike the rocky hillsides. If you are going to bow hunt, have a bow hunting guide with you, as they can bring you within 50 yards of a trophy shot. Shooting a trophy Tar with a bow is a feat not many can master. Make sure to get in some extra hunting days because the female Tahr will warn the bull Tahr of your presence, giving them a chance to run and hide.
Mounting Your Trophy Tahr
When mounting your bull Tahr, it’s essential to think things through. Of course, the most cost-effective method is the shoulder mount, but if you want to showcase the long mane hair, you’ll miss out on mounting this way.
Instead, consider a full-body mount. It can take four to six months to have the cape back in the U.S. and additional months before the taxidermist sends it out for tanning. This gives you some time to think shoulder-mount or full-body mount. You could be stuck if your guide capes it for a shoulder mount. Therefore, make them aware that you’re considering a full-body mount and would like to add it to your trophy room.
You may also want to consider a female Tahr as well. A Bull & Female made a great trophy pedestal mount. Some outfitters will take you on a hunt for a female one for much less than a bull Tahr.
Regardless of your hunting equipment, you want a good guide and outfitter guide to help you shoot and capture the trophy Tahr that you’ll remember for years.