Geoff Thomas
Geoff Thomas on fishing

Geoff Thomas: The ultimate outdoor man

Shem Vallis is not overly impressed with his dad's big boar. 
Photo / Geoff Thomas
Shem Vallis is not overly impressed with his dad's big boar. Photo / Geoff Thomas

All 4-year-old Shem Vallis wanted to do was to go pig-hunting with his father. So when dad Solly Vallis brought home one of the biggest Captain Cookers seen in the country, young Shem was quick to jump on the back of the ute and check it out.

The wild black pigs are descended from animals introduced by Captain Cook in 1769. But few ever get to grow as large as this one did at 135kg.

Vallis caught it while hunting in the backblocks of Taranaki and it gave his two dogs quite a challenge.

But he ended up sitting on the boar and finishing it off with his knife.

Vallis is happy for his sons to follow him on the pig trail. "So long as they don't want to be base jumpers," said this adventurer who has clocked 10,000 tandem sky-dive jumps and hundreds of base jumps.

"After going to 21 funerals of mates who were base jumpers, that is enough for me."

He was the first base jumper to make it from the west coast to the east coast of the North Island after jumping out of a helicopter in the Far North.

Vallis used to carry a video camera while hurtling through the air and shoot footage for Red Bull commercials but now he is happy to hunt pigs with customers who pay for the experience.

He also has orders from the Animal Health Board which wants heads of pigs from throughout the country to check for Tb.

When he is not hunting Vallis is following the surf and recently returned from a month in Hawaii.

The Gold Coast is next on the itinerary, but he can grab one of the surfboards lining the wall of his home on the south Taranaki coast at any time, with some of the country's best breaks hitting only a few hundred metres from his house.

When the surf is not crashing on the rocks he throws the dive gear into his tinnie and heads out to find a crayfish for dinner.

"You can usually find bugs of 2kg or 3kg in less than 20m."

This winter has been a good one for fishing off the rocky coast, with big snapper running. "And we have even been getting hapuku in 100m," he says. "Got one of 32kg the other day."

When the stags start roaring in the autumn Vallis picks up his clients and heads into the Ruahines or drives to Whakatane to hop on a mate's helicopter to zip into the hills.

His customers scored seven big stags in the roar this year. "I didn't have to pick up a rifle," he says.

"They shot them all."

It can be a problem figuring out what to do on a clear morning when the roar of the surf carries over the sand dunes, the pig dogs are whining eagerly in their kennels and the deer are coming on to the bush edges to feed.

"This country is a real paradise," says Vallis.

- Herald on Sunday

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