This past spring, Gomez says he had 20 hunters take a total of 21 stags; 16 of those green-scored over 300 SCI, with the largest stretching the tape to 378 2/8. The other five scored over 260 SCI, easily making the SCI record book minimum of 200 points. Only one hunter went home empty-handed, and that's because he missed twice at a monster Gold Medal stag.
What makes these deer grow to such enormous proportions in a free-range environment? According to Gomez, the landowners here, who are of German descent and have a strong European hunting tradition, have implemented some intense management programs. To start with, they will not allow hunters to shoot any animal that has not reached at least nine years of age. They also cull inferior stags and excess hinds, keeping the hind-to-stag ratio quite low. Additionally, they maintain exacting quotas on the number of animals to be harvested from any one property. Couple this with the amount of dense cover available and the forage maintained by landowners and you have the perfect conditions for quality trophy development.
Gomez works with numerous property owners in four different areas in southern Chile: Puerto Montt, Chaiten, Temuco and Rupanco. When we called him, he had just picked up two new ranches for next year's hunt, which will increase the number of hunters he can take to 30.
The hunting here is conducted mostly on foot, listening for roaring stags and then spotting and stalking them. Walking is not difficult,........(continued)