First-Hand Review On Hunting New Zealand Red Deer With Aotearoa


Published: October - 2009

I first reported on the free-range red deer hunting offered in New Zealand by Aotearoa Safaris last year (See Article ID 2128.) Located on the North Island, Aotearoa's main hunting block encompasses 5,000 acres of native bush, river gorges, cleared farmland, fringe clearings and open faces. Red deer, wild goats, wild pigs and turkey roam the region, while in the nearby Whanganui River two-kilogram rainbow and brown trout abound. This part of New Zealand is breathtaking. Three volcanic cones - Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu - form the backdrop, while Tongariro National Park provides additional refuge for the wild deer herds. The region was never de-forested and cleared, as were so many other areas settled by Europeans. Also, the deer were managed, rather than eradicated. In fact, red deer bloodlines here can be traced back to the famous English Parks of Windsor, Warnham and Invermark, so there is always the chance of a monster stag mooching through.

The 2009 season was a particularly good one for Aotearoa, and during my week's visit in early April three great red stags were shot. The best two were near the 300 Douglas score national ranking mark and carried 13 and 14 points respectively. The Douglas System used by the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association for trophy wild heads rewards evenness and symmetry. A nationally ranked red stag trophy in New Zealand scores over 300 Douglas and a national fallow deer over 200. Photographs of these free-range trophies are available on my blog on The Hunting Report's homepage (www.huntingreport.com, scroll down to Blogs.) Before my visit, free-range hunters had already harvested over a dozen good stags, and this trend continued after I left. A good head here traditionally has 12 to 14 points, with an occasional bigger head ending up in the bag. Heads are very even, have white tips and good antler weight. They score between 270 and 310 Douglas score.

During my visit I learned Aotearoa had acquired hunting rights on a new fallow deer block too. I had the opportunity to investigate this new hunting block and will venture to........(continued)

 
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