Free-range hunting in New Zealand is going through a purple patch. All of the traditional free-range species seem to be producing some great trophies of late, with the biggest mover being the quality of wild fallow bucks. Several new fallow herds have come on stream in the last decade, and these have now been made available to visiting overseas hunting clients. Both herd quantity, and quality is very good.
I will be profiling a couple of these destinations in upcoming editions of The Hunting Report as already some great heads have been harvested. A head of 200 Douglas Score (even heads benefit most) qualifies a New Zealand head for national inclusion in the record books, but that is becoming a very average trophy of late. The best ever wild head now scores over 260DS, and heads better than 220DS are taken regularly. On a property I visited last month a bowhunter shot what is probably the best free range bowshot head ever. It provisionally scored 233DS. I was lucky enough to watch the whole stalk and take my hat off to the skill of New Zealand hunter Andy Oakes. A picture is included. He crept in to a range of 40 metres and arrowed it with one clean shoulder shot.
The second picture is of another big buck shot by the author in a North Island destination. It scored 220DS. These big heads are just going to get bigger as many landowners are now managing their wild, free-range herds for the trophy client. This also applies to top tahr, red stag, and sika properties. Long may such positive wild game management continue.