The first successful introduction of this species was near Taupo (Central North Island) in 1905, and today good numbers are spread across some 500 square miles of forest range. Its popularity among New Zealand hunters as a big game species is due to its extreme cunning and to the trophy quality available. It's a fact - New Zealand produces the top sika trophies in the world. Yes, the entire world. Each year, some 7,500 deer are shot by recreational hunters, mostly Kiwis and a few visiting Australians. North American hunters have not discovered this potential... yet. I am obviously letting the cat out of the bag in this report.
In the year 2000, a Taupo sika hunting competition produced 25 trophies that surpassed the elite trophy standard of 160 Douglas score (a scoring system used in New Zealand). The winner had a massive 195 Douglas score. Suffice it to say, this was a truly magnificent trophy.
What's really interesting about all this is that some of the best sika are taken each year in fair-chase. That's the reverse of the situation with red stag. Also, since herd reduction improves trophy quality, the trend is toward bigger trophies.
Much of the country inhabited by this species is thick bush, so it is essential that visiting hunters use a guide if they are targeting a trophy stag. While there are good populations on public land, the elusiveness of the animals, unfamiliar terrain and local hunter competition makes securing an animal a difficult proposition. Unquestionably, private land with a guide is the way to go.
As for the guide to use, I recommend Neil Philpott........(continued)