Stacey Thorburn is a big game guide in New Zealand. She is passionate about guiding female hunters and encouraging other women to get out there and become guides!
She Guides is sponsored by Remington Outdoor Company
He trapped opossum, caught goats live and has been a trophy hunter since I was little. I was always allowed to go with him which was a great opportunity to watch and learn. We still hunt and fish together all the time and now my husband and kids are tagging along with us. The best life advice I have ever heard came from my lovely husband, which was “do what makes you happy.” I introduced my husband to hunting, which it is usually the other way around! Being out in nature every day – whether it’s hunting, fishing, camping, hiking – it’s what makes me tick. We like to share that together. I thrive and am happiest when I’m spending time out guiding and spending time with family and friends in our beautiful back yard that is New Zealand.
In New Zealand, we don’t have a tag system. We get hunting permits for areas of conservation land which are valid for 3 months. We can hunt for 365 days a year, so we, as New Zealanders, who hold gun licenses and hunting permits are very lucky. I try to prepare my hunters as much as possible. I tell them what gear they’ll need to bring: gun, boots, clothing, for season and terrain they are coming in. I try and prepare them for the fitness expectations for our type of hunting. I help out with travel logistics as little or as much as possible for getting here.
Some people might thing that guiding is only about finding the animals. But my job is to ultimately get my client back to base camp at the end of the hunt. I’m personally responsible for my clients well-being and safety. I think being a woman and also a mother, I’m very aware of the clients’ emotions. When clients get tired/frustrated, I generally will have a break from our activity and sit down, have a snack and chat. We laugh, talk about life in general, anything other than hunting. I tell them to look around at the magical spot we’re in and remember that we are lucky to be here enjoying it. We get to know each other better during these times, too, and work with each other better when the hunt resumes.
My favorite would be a woman a decade younger than me that I took out. She was a very enthusiastic, energetic, funny lady. We both love hunting and generally anything outdoors and brought up our kids experiencing everything it [hunting] has to offer. We stalked her red stag for hours, as we were in full view opposite him across a valley. It seemed to take forever to get close enough and in a good position to take the shot. She got ready, I was glassing, heavy breaths. “Take the shot when you’re ready,” I said. It all worked out great, animal went down. I turned to her and said, “Awesome! Well done!” She was trembling with excitement, all sorts of emotions. It was fantastic to see someone still react like this, even though she had shot many animals. It’s humbling. We were out way into the night and we got back to camp late and buzzing tired. Best day so far.
He was not able to walk far and was unstable on his own feet. He was always right and unwilling to listen. This was a week that mentally drained me, as it seemed like forever. It left me frustrated and tired. Normally, I’m always smiling and energetic and glass half-full. I was done. He got what he came for and left very happy, unknowing that I wasn’t having an enjoyable week. That is the kind of client I don’t care to have again. A hunter with the right mindset will enjoy the whole experience and not be so focused on the kill. Coming home empty-handed is hard. It’s happened a few times over the years, but there’s always another day or another animal. That’s how I look at it. Sometimes it makes you second guess how good you are at your job and wonder am I stretching my abilities? However, that’s how you learn and grow and make better decisions on future excursions.
We always try to take mature old animals or ones with less desirable genetics. The biggest issue we face as hunters in New Zealand is our government uses 1080 poison on all our conservation land/hunting grounds. This is worrisome for hunters, as well as anyone who enjoys taking in nature. The second biggest issue is the management of introduced species. Being an island, New Zealand is being overrun by certain invasive species and it is a very difficult task to try and manage the issues.
My favorite rifle caliber is my 7mm Remington Mag. It’s a great all-around caliber for New Zealand species. We use many different calibers here while guiding/hunting, but most common here are .308, 7mm Remington Mag, 270 Win and 300 WSM.
I enjoy the big caliber rifles. I started shooting with a 300 WSM and now own a 7mm mag. Both have muzzle brakes and these are great for women and children as it takes so much recoil out. It makes them enjoyable to shoot and not get knocked around.
Glen Dene Hunting & Fishing NZ
Read about other women in the She Guides series here.