Thrill of the chase nets hunters prizes

Willow Colman (4), of Ohai, proudly carries her big rabbit in the Fiordland Big 3 children's section, while Luke has the possum and Carly the fish to complete the catch.

KEEN enthusiasts from the hunting community cast their critical eye over the entries in Te Anau Helicopter Services Fiordland Big 3 event at Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

Teams of adult hunters were on the trail of a deer, a pig and a fish while children chased after possums, hares or rabbits and fish to qualify, with more than $8000 in prizes on offer.

Starting on Thursday and ending on Sunday at Te Anau Rugby Club grounds, the seventh Otago and Southland-wide competition gathered plenty of interest after the 2020 event was canned due to Covid-19.

The event is a fundraiser for Te Anau Rugby Club, with the committee made up of club representatives and Te Anau Events members.

Te Anau Rugby Club president Nathan Botting said overall the day went well – made easier by a great amount of enthusiastic helpers to make sure the competition happened.

“Local support with donations of prizes and sponsorship has been very humbling due to the ongoing effects of Covid on our town.”

A query was made asking if the animals caught for the competition were donated to charity or were kept by the teams.

“In the past, dog food companies would take the animals and charity groups had taken some but this year the decision was made for all animals to be taken away by the owners so we didn’t have to dispose of many,” Botting said.

Judge Graham Johnston, of Te Anau, was on hand again to measure the hard antler, collecting data to assist the Fiordland Big 3 committee on the calibre of animals shot doing the competition.

Along with the Big 3, the possum throw and pig carry competitions proved popular.

The major prize, a customised trip for four worth up to $5000, donated by Te Anau Helicopter Service, was won by “The Stragglers”.

A new trophy on offer, the Dallas Wilson Memorial Trophy, with prize packs from John Deere and Backcountry cuisine, was won by “The Rubber Heads”.

“Hot Jump” won the Highest Douglas Score with a fallow deer and heaviest deer with a red stag weighing in at 143kg.

In the children’s section, “Three Little Froggies” was the overall winner, also winning heaviest hare/rabbit, while “Fiordland Furs” caught the heaviest possum.