"The large French territorial island of New Caledonia sits in the Southern Hemisphere's tropics about 1,000 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia. The draw here is the rusa deer, an animal that was imported during the 19th century from Java. In New Zealand and Australia, rusa deer are usually hunted on fenced game ranches, while in New Caledonia they are hunted in the wild. There are an estimated 100,000 rusa deer in New Caledonia, and they grow considerably larger here than in their native habitat.
"My recent hunt in New Caledonia was conducted by a local veterinarian, Dr. Daniel Marhic, who operates a company he calls Trophy Rusa Deer. In North America he is represented by Jerome Knap of Global Expeditions Marhic is an avid international hunter himself, and he controls one of the best rusa hunting areas on the island. This is a 12,000-acre-plus deer ranch northwest of the capital, Noumea, in the rolling coastal hills on the drier side of the island.
"The term `deer ranch' probably raises questions, if not eyebrows, and it should be explained that the ranch contains several large enclosures for the rusa deer that the owner of the ranch raises for export as meat, primarily to Japan. Marhic hunts the unfenced areas outside these enclosures for wild free-ranging stags. Even if one wanted to hunt inside the enclosures, the owner would not allow it.
"So, how was the hunting? The terrain, though relatively low and rolling, does have deep ravines and steep slopes that, along with the general wariness of the stags, make hunting on foot mandatory. The stags are strongly nocturnal, and averse to being out in the rain. With all that........(continued)