New Zealand Thunder Chickens
Larry and Brenda Potterfield show off two turkeys they harvested in New Zealand. (Photo courtesy MidwayUSA)
First, let me say that Brenda and I didn’t travel all the way to New Zealand to hunt turkeys; we were there for chamois and tahr. However, after the main events were complete, we were asked if we wanted to shoot some turkeys. After we said yes, the next question was, “How many do you want to shoot?” We said one each and didn’t really understand the question until later.
The following morning we drove to a ranch about 45 minutes away from where we were staying. It was all pretty routine; we crossed a creek into ranch headquarters, then turned west and headed into the ranch, cruising through the river bottom, with snow-covered hills to the south.
We hadn’t gone a mile, when our guide stopped and pointed out a large flock of turkeys feeding near the top of a hill about a half mile in front of us and to the left. We drove on down the valley until we were out of sight of the turkeys, then parked and began the stalk up the back side of the hill. These hills were pretty serious; we climbed a thousand or more feet through the snow, stopping often to rest, as it was a pretty tough climb.
At the top of the hill, our guide led us quietly through the scattered brush and into position to shoot. Brenda had a 12 gauge semi-auto and I had a scoped .223 bolt-action rifle, which is legal for turkeys in New Zealand. Both were loaner guns from the outfitter. Brenda set up to shoot first. After Brenda’s shot, I expected to get an opportunity if they didn’t fly far and landed within sight. Surprisingly, though, our guide pointed out which turkey he wanted me to shoot.
Brenda was patient, as always, and when she shot, all the heads went up and at attention. Interestingly, after she shot, not one turkey flew away. So I fired … two turkeys on the ground flopping but still none of them flew.
We walked out to retrieve our birds and the rest of the flock just stood around and slowly began to move off; they simply had no fear of humans. At that point, we then knew why the guide had asked, “How many do you want to shoot?” He would never have taken us to this spot if we had just wanted to blast every turkey in sight, apparently some hunters do.