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Tahr Ballot - The Jacobs

Posted by PointsSouth on

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Squeezed under the rugged and dramatic Bannock Brae range, the Makawhio or Jacobs as it’s known is home to some of South Westlands finest scrub. And is one of the more Northern ballot blocks in the Hooker/Adams wilderness area.

River travel can be painfully slow with the bush being strewn with boulders and problems to skirt around, and a network of tahr trails that just always seem to end up in a jungle of vines. But if you have the patience for hunting tahr in the scrub and side creeks, you wont be disappointed.

jacobs campsite

It’s certainly one of the more popular landing sites in the ballot, so you will need a little luck on your side to draw it, especially in those key weeks. The landing site is on an obvious flat just down from the last gorge before the head basin, and actually on what was a lake back in the 1950’s and has now since filled in.

hooker lansborough tahr ballot landing sites

The river right by camp is easily crossed being just over ankle deep, at least until Westland does what Westland does and dumps a large volume of water in a short time. With the valley being reasonably large and having super steep sides, the river rises and falls rapidly. When I was last in there we had about 140mm of rain which quickly brought the river up to a nasty raging torrent perhaps a couple of meters deep, and the run off from the hill behind camp had all the obvious tent site’s under about 10-15cm of water. Have a good think about where you put your tent if the forecast is bad, if there’s gravel rather than vegetation then that probably means water flows there.

The flipside to riding out a storm in the Jacobs is the campsite is actually quite low in elevation and relatively sheltered from the West. And it’s a truly impressive site watching all the waterfalls appear and start streaming off the steep faces, and hearing the river shifting good sized boulders downstream.

campsite flooded

Tahr are located throughout the valley with good hunting both up and down stream, and if you time the rut right there will be bulls popping up out of the scrub in all the wee side creeks. In recent years I’ve heard of a few ok bulls being shot in the Jacobs, but nothing truly standout although I’m sure there has been in years gone by. Given the slight over population of tahr in the valley in recent years, this has probably affected horn growth, so this is one valley where you should certainly be taking a couple of young nannies for the pot.

The flight in is spectacular with James often coming up the Karangarua then hopping over the ridge and down into the Jacobs landing site. Usually giving you a bit of a run down on a few likely spots to check out, and no doubt telling you about the big bull that no ones shot yet that comes out of the steep creek behind camp. Although I’m sure he’s been telling that story for a good number of years now, so I’d guess that bull’s probably been getting around in the Jacobs for about as long as James has.

Originally produced for NZHunter Magazine - Grab a subscription here

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