Red Stag Hunting New Zealand

For more information e-mail   Steuart   of NZ Hunting Info Ltd




A great red stag trophy.
a great trophy
A fine stag in velvet.
Velvet monster

The outstanding characteristic of New Zealand estate stags is their superior antlers. The Red Stags found on New Zealand hunting estates have evolved into an amazing game animal that now differs considerably from the Red Stags found on public land. The incredible antler structures of the estate stags have been developed over the last 30 years through a process of crossing New Zealand red deer with selected European bloodlines.

Trophy Scoring: In order to recognise the differences between the Red Stags of estate and public land, Safari Club International (SCI) has two sets of records in its SCI Online Record Book. Under the section "Red Deer-South Pacific" are "Red Deer (free Range)" for the red deer from public land and "Red Deer (estate)" for the red deer from safari/game estates.

New Zealand guides and outfitters are familiar with the SCI scoring system. This system divides Red Stag trophies into bronze, silver and gold medal categouries according to their total SCI scores. However, the number of points required for each categoury has been changed several times. The result is that not all outfitters use the same number of SCI points to define their medal categouries. A recent review of outfitter websites showed considerable variation. For example, at one extreme an outfitter classified silver medal Red Stags as falling between 280-340 points whereas another defined silver medal Red Stags between 320-359 points. The current SCI definitions for bronze, silver and gold medal categouries are listed on the S.C.I. website .

New Zealand Red Stags have always been recognised for their size and class. The antlers of estate Red Stags continue to increase in size and massive heads keep appearing in the record books. The record number of points for a wild Red Stag is 38 whereas estated Red Stags have gone over 50. The highest SCI score for an estate Red Stag trophy is now more than 660 points.

Bulk velvet is very exciting.
a great trophy
What a trophy. What a day.
Velvet monster

In New Zealand and Australian the Douglas Scoring system is used for scoring traditional red stag heads. This system is inappropriate for estate red deer because it penalizes lack of symmetry, a characteristic typical of the antlers of safari/estate deer.

Increasingly Europeans are coming to hunt in New Zealand. They use yet another system called the CIC. New Zealand game estate antlers also score highly on the European CIC scoring system particularly because of their huge size and weight.

History: Before 1969, deer farms and safari/game estates didn't exist in New Zealand because they were illegal. This situation changed very quickly after legislation was passed in 1969 and in that year the first license for a safari/game estate was granted to a farmer near Taupo in the North Island. Soon after, many safari/game estates were established in both the North and South Islands. In the early 1970s New Zealand wild venison had gained access to European and American markets so professional hunters shot wild deer on public land to supply these markets. When leaders in the venison recovery industry realised that the supply of wild deer was dwindling, they started to set up deer farms to ensure a continuous supply of venison into the future. Istead of killing deer, the helicopter crews switched to the live-capture of deer in order to stock deer farms and safari/game estates. At first they used tranquillizer darts but by the late 1970s had adopted nets fired from specially adapted guns. A host of new deer farms and safari/game estates suddenly sprang up, especially in the high country close to where the wild deer were being captured.

A solid red stag.
Estate deer
An SCI 472 head. Not bad.
high scoring SCI stag

Live capture of wild red deer in New Zealand peaked in the 1979-1980 season. Running in parallel to the booming venison market in Europe was a separate market for deer velvet (the early growth stage of antlers) in Asian countries such as Korea and Hong Kong. As the numbers of New Zealand farmed deer increased, deer breeders looked to improve the body weight and antler size of their stags. This was achieved through better nutrition and selective breeding. At first breeders focused on the best wild stag sires but then brought in of new blood lines from overseas. They reintroduced stock from the famous bloodlines at Windsor Park, Warnham Park, Woburn Abbey and Furzeland. Later stags and semen were imported from several European countries including Germany, Yugoslavia, Romania, Hungary and Sweden. The best of the wild stags produced up to 6 kg of velvet but some of the newly bred stags produced over 10 kg of velvet. The results of the red deer breeding programs spilled into the hunting safari/game estate industry which wanted larger bodied stags with bigger antlers for its hunting clients. New Zealand breeders have produced some of the biggest red deer heads in the world which is why hunters come from all around the world in pursuit of New Zealand red stags. The red stag hunts in New Zealand are as good if not better than red stag hunts anywhere else in the world.


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For more information e-mail   Steuart   of NZ Hunting Info Ltd