New Caledonia Rusa Deer Hunting Operation Comes Under New Ownership


Published: November - 2009

New Zealanders Colin and Alison Murray have taken over the New Caledonia rusa deer hunting operation of Jamie Bell renaming it Belle New Caledonia Safaris. After 15 years of operation, Bell, of Jamie Bell Safaris of Australia, has sold out. He was long recognized as having access to some of the best free-range Java rusa stag properties on New Caledonia, so I wanted to profile the new broom in action and see how they'd measure up.

New Caledonia is one of the South Pacific's most popular hunting destinations. It consists of a number of French-controlled islands located 1,700 kilometers north of New Zealand. The largest island, La Grande Terre, roughly 400 kilometers by 50 kilometers, is home to the main city Noumea and Tontouta International Airport. The main island is split down the middle by a mountain range reaching 1,630 meters at its highest point. The east coast faces the trade winds and is generally humid and wet, while the west coast is drier and more temperate. Most importantly, that is where the rusa deer are, particularly around the towns of La Foa, Boulouparis, Bourail and Poya.

Rusa deer were brought to New Caledonia from Java in 1870 as a gift to the governor, and today they number in the tens of thousands, hence the slogan "the best free-range hunting destination in the world." Although New Zealand and Australia also have rusa deer, the largest trophies come from New Caledonia.

Jamie Bell made his mark in New Caledonia by consistently putting high scoring, free-range rusa stags in front of his clients. At different times his hunters dominated the SCI record book, and the average head over 15 years fell exactly at the 33-inch mark. This is a great achievement, and after showing the Murrays around the exclusive concession ranches the company hunted, Bell passed the reins over to the new owners in July of 2009. Coincidentally, I was their first client in a nearly fully-booked season.

The new owners have tried as much as possible to adhere to the old........(continued)

 
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