Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Novice women waltz off with hunting prize

Paula Roberts, left, Rachael Blackie, Bryar Bakalich and Stacey Rust with their pheasant, stag, boar and trout.
Photo / Supplied
Paula Roberts, left, Rachael Blackie, Bryar Bakalich and Stacey Rust with their pheasant, stag, boar and trout. Photo / Supplied

Some of the country's best male hunters were out-gunned in a national contest by a team of women, including two who had never fired a rifle before.

The four friends - calling themselves Team No Nutts - were the only females in a field of more than 300 at the Polaris Big Four event near Tauranga.

Some red-blooded hunters even travelled from Australia to compete.

More than $130,000 in prizes was up for grabs.

When the gruelling four-day competition finished last Saturday, the girls amazed hardened male hunters by bagging a stag, a boar, a pheasant and a trout.

"The guys were shocked when the girls took the competition out," said event organiser Ken Griffin.

"It was bloody incredible. It is the first time women have entered and no one gave them a chance."

The objective for the 77 teams of four was to weigh in animals closest to the average weight of those bagged in each of four categories.

Team captain Stacey Rust - a 20-year-old veterinary nurse from Tauranga - was already a keen hunter but she said it wasn't easy finding three women to join her.

"We only entered for fun and spent three days hunting in the bush somewhere at the back of Gisborne," Rust said. "We were out there from five in the morning until midnight, which was pretty rough.

"We didn't expect to get anywhere in the contest.

"When we won, we got a bit of a mixed reaction. Some of the men seemed quite peeved but we were congratulated by a lot of the women spectators." Paula Roberts, 21, a hotel duty manager from Rotorua, brought down the boar with her first attempt at using a rifle.

"I was told to just aim for the biggest part and fire," Roberts said. "I couldn't believe it when I got it. It was the best week of my life."

The other team members were Bryar Bakalich, 22, an accountancy student working in Opotiki, and Rachael Blackie, a 23-year-old assistant manager from Hastings.

Rust said the women almost missed the final weigh-in as they had gone on an impromptu shopping trip after bringing down a stag on the last morning.

"We hadn't really showered properly for days and Bryar decided she wanted some fresh gear so we only made it to the weigh-in with five minutes to spare," she said.

Rust said the team was likely to keep their prize - a $16,000 Polaris quad bike - and are determined to defend their title next year.

"It was some buzz and now we all have the hunting bug. So the guys had better watch out again next time," she added.

- Herald on Sunday

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