Blood on his hands as he follows the way of the Wolf

Matt Rilkoff learns from a real pro as he shoots to eat.

Wolf was born to hunt.

The Ukrainian-born New Zealander shot at his first target as a 6-year-old at a fun park and has been hooked ever since.

Billy bye-bye: New Plymouth hunter Alex Wolf and reporter Matt Rilkoff haul a dead billy goat into a clearing for butchering.
Billy bye-bye: New Plymouth hunter Alex Wolf and reporter Matt Rilkoff haul a dead billy goat into a clearing for butchering.

He fed his addiction with a stint as a sniper in the Ukrainian Army and later for the Israeli Defence Forces, but it is only since coming to New Plymouth seven years ago that he has finally been able to quench his thirst.

"This country is a hunting paradise. A bloody hunting paradise," he half whispered as we stalked goats somewhere near Tarata yesterday.

"But my rule is this. I shoot, I eat. I never shoot for fun. Don't kill a live being just for your pleasure. You shoot, you eat. That is one of my rules."

It was a philosophy that fitted perfectly with my attempt to live off the land in Taranaki for 12 days and what's more Wolf, or Alex Wolf if you prefer the name his mother gave him, promised an easy hunt.

Of course there is no such thing and so after four 12-hour days of hunting and fishing I had another 12-hour day of hard slog.

I am not complaining. Goat is a tasty meat and because lamb is now made of gold or perhaps diamonds, goat meat is the closest I can get to recreating those childhood memories of a New Zealand before free trade agreements ruined everything.

Yesterday Wolf shot four, or as he put it, about 20 kilograms of meat.

There was a brief moment when he thought about letting me have a shot but in the end the 6-year-old at the fun park was just being polite. It was his hunt. He was the Wolf.

Despite not being involved in their killing I was up to my elbows in blood when it came to the butchering.

What surprised me was how easily I did it. I didn't think I had the stomach to cut off legs full of still-twitching muscles. I didn't imagine I could cope with ripping out the warm internal organs of a newly dead being. But I did. Perhaps we all can.

It also helped having Wolf there to put death in perspective.

"You know the pigs will eat that and they will be saying bloody thank-you guys," he said after throwing the legless carcass of a nanny goat into the bush.

Just an hour later it was a young billy goat that was in line to give us high-fives after Wolf possibly handed him control of a herd by shooting a particularly well-endowed male.

"This is his chance. He will be saying bloody thank you guys."

Today: Cooking some of the spoils.

Monday: Deer stalking with Phil Mohi.

Taranaki Daily News