Red Deer (Cervus Elephus)
Can be hunted mid February till September but the Best time to hunt is March-April (Rut) - meat hunts can be organised all year round.
First introduced to New Zealand in the late 1800’s, red deer are the most widely spread deer species in New Zealand. The male deer is called a ‘Stag’ and the female deer is called a ‘Hind’.
An average NZ red stag can weigh around 400 pounds and can also carry the largest antlers of any deer in the world relative to their body size. During the rut, Red Stags ‘roar’ their challenge to neighbouring stags. It can be likened to an African lions roar.
When hunting most of New Zealand’s big game species we usually use a spot and stalk method, and hunting Red Stags is no different.
Depending on the time of year you could either be up close and personal in thick forest while stags are ‘roaring’ their challenge, or you could be on the open tops, sidling through the valley heads glassing into each and assessing potential trophies.
Shooting distances vary from 20 – 400 yards depending on the area being hunted.
Fallow Deer (Dama Dama)
Can be hunted late February till September, but the best time to hunt is April-May (Rut).
Introduced through several releases in the late 1800’s, Fallow deer have thrived in both the North and the South Islands of New Zealand. They are a lot smaller in size than their Red Deer cousins (varying in weight from 150-200 pounds) but make up for it during the rut where they can become very aggressive.
The male fallow is called a ‘buck’ and the female is called a ‘Doe’. A fallow buck can be identified by his palmated antlers, a bit like a Moose or a Caribou and can have amazing light spotted or dark chocolate capes.
During the rut they issue their challenge to rival bucks by ‘croaking’ or ‘grunting’, which almost sounds a little like a pig.
Hunting Fallow Bucks is very similar to Red Stags as they are very vocal and aggressive during the rut.
At times you can creep in very close, especially if they are holed up with their does in the tight forest. Other times you may be required to sit and wait them out as they feed or follow their does into the open from heavy cover.
Shooting Distances vary from 20- 400 yards.
Can be hunted all year round but the best time to hunt is May-July (Rut). If it’s the mane you prize then anytime from May till October is best as they lose most of their long hair in the warmer months.
Tahr were first released in the South Island of New Zealand at Mt Cook in 1904. After their release, tahr never looked back. They thrived in their new environment and quickly spread along the steep, harsh terrain of the Southern Alps. New Zealand is unique in that we have the only hunt-able free range population of tahr in the world. The male tahr is called a ‘Bull’ and the female is called a ‘nanny’.
They are prized for not only their horns but mostly for their thick, long blonde manes that grow each year before the rut and remain through till late spring. An average New Zealand bull Tahr can weigh up to 300 pounds and makes easy work of the steep alpine environment that it calls home.
A typical bull tahr hunt would involve either walking, driving or flying into the vast Southern Alps and camping within their home range. A lot of time would then be spent behind your binoculars, firstly locating, then assessing the potential trophy animal through a spotting scope. Shooting distances would vary from 100- 500 yards and are often on steep angles given the nature of the terrain.
Hunting a free range, public land, bull tahr would be one of the toughest hunts in the world and a high level of fitness is required. Check out a hunt I did a few years ago with well known Alaskan guide, Billy Molls.
This kind of hunt is not for everyone however, so if your body is not up to the rigors of a public land hunt you may want to consider hunting a bull tahr on one of our private land areas. Here you can typically drive to the hut and enjoy a few more luxuries, while not competing with other hunters for animals. Tahr numbers are typically higher and they do not see the hunting pressure of public land areas.
Can be hunted all year round but the best time to hunt is May - June (Rut).
Chamois were introduced into New Zealand in the early 1900’s as a state gift from Austria. They belong to the antelope family and have the best eyesight of any of our game animals. Their amazing sight coupled with the terrain they live in makes them one of New Zealand’s most challenging species to hunt. The male Chamois is called a ‘Buck’ and the female is called a ‘Doe’.
They have an awesome thick, dark cape in the winter and a smooth, tan coat in the summer months. Both the males and females have horns but the males horns are typically thicker and hook more at the top.
A standard hunt would involve lots of time behind the binoculars and a good level of fitness, especially if you’re not using a helicopter to access the open tops where they live. Once spotted it is then a case of closing the distance to assess whether it is a buck or a doe, and then working out whether it is a trophy class animal.
Height is a key factor in the success of a chamois hunt as they (like Tahr) mostly look down for danger. When you are above them you can often close the distance more easily without being detected, allowing time for observation.
Shooting distances will vary from 100 – 400 yards in the often steep and rocky terrain. They are extremely agile and make moving around in this mountainous environment look very easy.
If we are lucky enough to tag out early on the big game there are always other critters we can arrange to hunt. These include wallabies, rabbits, goats or even ducks and geese.
Any combination of the above can be added to a hunt or fill in a day if needed.