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THE Spot For Free-Range Sika
(posted July - 2010)
 

 Poronui (poor-new-ee) is a Maori word that rolls easily off the tongue. And Poronui Ranch is just as easy on the eye. It is a spectacular place, easily one of New Zealand’s best all-round outdoor destinations. ForbesLife Magazine (www.forbes.com), which bills itself as the online “home page of the world’s business leaders,” recently named Poronui the ninth best fishing lodge in the world. (Our sister publication, The Angling Report has six positive subscriber reports on the place.) But Poronui Ranch is also a historical hunting property that rightly deserves its place as one of New Zealand’s best stalking locations for deer.

 Sika deer were originally released in New Zealand at Poronui in the early 1900s. Today they are found throughout the North Island’s Kaimanawa and nearby Kaweka Mountains. A 16,000-acre property, Poronui is still the premier place to hunt trophy free-range sika stags today. The property is long and narrow, covered in eucalyptus and native bush. I hunted there this past April at the peak of the rut. Roaring red stags, croaking fallow buck and squealing sika stags were everywhere. The sika hunting in one gully had to be seen to be believed. The sight of 15 screaming eight-point sika stags squaring off will stay long in my memory. On the second to the last day of my stay, I took a huge sika stag with antlers 31 inches long and 26 inches wide, and with 12-inch brow tines. (See a photograph in my blog on The Hunting Report homepage.) He was the dominant stag in a gully and was chasing off two large eight-point stags from his does when I harvested him.

 In addition to the sika, red stag and fallow buck, rusa stag are also available for trophy hunting. In order to protect the historically unique free-range sika deer herd, however, the other species are segregated into 3,000 acres of hunting terrain protected by high wire. Sika and red deer can interbreed, so red deer are not wanted in the free-range forests where the pure sika roam. Sika deer, however, are so adept at using cover that they could hide under a handkerchief. So, when the trophy block was first fenced, large numbers of sika were fenced within it. It is interesting to see how the four deer species staked their separate territories within the 3,000 acres. The sika deer dominate the northern end of the trophy block, while good numbers of red deer live throughout the middle sections. The fallow deer are sprinkled through the eastern eucalyptus forests and southern end, and the rusa love the sunny faces on the western periphery of the block. The self-imposed separations mean different parties of hunters can hunt different deer species on the same day, or one party of hunters may hunt four different species of deer over consecutive days.....


  


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