The reason for the shift is a gradual phasing out of the helicopter venison-recovery business. Also, the government has stepped in to halt the indiscriminate slaughter of tahr, which saw the population of those animals plummet from 40,000 to as low as 2,000 in 1984. Today, tahr numbers are back up to about 10,000, and there is reason to hope that an official government management plan will keep numbers at that level. Across the country, game management policies are being put in place that are creating fair chase opportunities unlike anything we have seen in many years.
In this report, I am going to confine myself to a discussion of two fair chase red deer operators and one tahr operator whose successes typify what is going on in many parts of the country. I should note that the animals the red deer operators produce don't compete with behind-the-fence behemoths. On the other hand, their properties and the animals they have available meet all the criteria most visiting hunters look for in a free-range experience.
The first red deer property is completely new to the market. It is about a six-hour drive south from Christchurch International Airport. It is a large sheep and cattle ranch that also has a large population of free-ranging red deer. This herd descends from traditional Scottish stock, and while the trophy heads are lighter and shorter than the other property I'm going to tell you about, they are renowned for attractiveness and symmetry. Also, 12- and 14-point heads are........(continued)