The Insider Word On Fair Chase Hunts


Published: July - 2001

New Zealand in recent years has come to be known as a place where huge stags, chamois and tahr can be taken with relative certainty and ease. Indeed, these animals can be taken that way in fenced enclosures, and a number of outfitters have become very adept at making such hunts enjoyable. The hunts I want to tell you about are of another order entirely. They are much more physically demanding... much less certain... and, generally speaking, produce much smaller trophies. Yes, I'm talking about genuine, old-fashioned fair-chase hunts, either on public land or private land, conducted by local outfitters who cater mostly to the local and regional market.

I know about these outfitters because I am a New Zealander myself. I live in Christchurch on the South Island and have spent a lifetime exploring the wild places here in pursuit of game. Let me start by giving you a quick overview of fair-chase hunting in New Zealand.

The first thing you should know is that game populations on public lands are sparse and trophy quality quite low. The Department of Conservation here considers all introduced game species as pests and has practiced intensive game eradication for many years. That means that a wild 10-point red deer stag is a trophy, and 12- and 14- pointers are exceptional. Fallow, whitetail and wapiti are in the same shape. Only North Island sika deer continue to thrive on public land.

The plight of game on private land is another matter entirely. Farmers and other private landowners have become the protectors of game in New Zealand. They restrict access and implement wildlife management systems. As a result, they are the ones who control access to most of the good hunting.

On the South Island, where most hunting occurs, hunting operators tend to fall into one of three types. The first category is made up of landowners who guide on their own property. These individuals either provide onsite accommodation, or house their guests in a nearby town. Hunts provided by landowners can be fun........(continued)

 
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