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Year of the Hardy Big New Zealand Rusa

I think 2017 will see a very big rusa stag cross the path of a Poronui hunting client. If you want that person to be you book in now for a hunting trip between mid-July and mid-August when the rut is on. Lazy roars will be wafting out around the valleys throughout this period, and in addition to rutting rusa, big sika and red stags plus fallow bucks are mobbed up at that time feeding intensely in relatively unwary bachelor groups.

I base my ‘big rusa down’ prediction on the fact I have visually seen over the last two years several rusa who just needed another year or two to reach peak trophy size. That time begins this year and hopefully every year from now on as the population is very strong at this point with lots of young males coming through. Last year I saw four ‘nearly there’ trophy stags and can’t wait to eyeball them again this year. I will show you the photos when I return to Poronui soon.

Poronui rusa stags are typically in great physical condition with attractive rather than massive headgear. Many have nifty looking, turned in outers. The consistent size is just the nature of their genetics, and harshness of the climate they live in.  Some trade-offs have to occur to survive a New Zealand winter so antler weight is compromised in order to grow body weight. The female rusa are the largest I have ever seen and make overseas rusa look like scrawny cousins.

What a client should consider when stalking Poronui rusa is the bigger picture. You are harvesting a hardy New Zealand rusa, not a long antlered New Caledonian or eastern Australia tropics living stag. The goal should be a neat, evenly matched six-point head, about 30 inches in length with a spectacular cape. A very realistic goal this year and in the years ahead. The stags included in this blog entry were all photographed in 2016, and as far as I am aware are still running around, albeit even bigger.  

– Greg Morton

The Mountain's Big Two

Tahr, the king of the mountains, and chamois, the prince of the bluffs actually don’t get on with each other. Tahr are bullies, and in many traditional chamois haunts the resident herds are now gone, displaced and exiled by their more numerous and aggressive Himalayan neighbours. Of the two trophies, the bull tahr is the easier to secure as numbers appear to be higher and they are relatively easy to locate. Good buck chamois are more transient and scarcer in number, more of an opportunist trophy than a guaranteed success.

In a perfect world the intrepid hunter hopes to secure a 13 inch bull, and a 10 inch buck, both with glossy capes. May through to August is peak hunting time with the rut in full swing and the coming together of males and females ensuring there is a lot of testosterone and posturing in the air. It is rare though to harvest both trophies side by side and the visiting hunter will have to hunt different types of terrain to be successful. In all cases the country will be steep, potentially dangerous, and the days short. No pain, no gain, so fitness is a client’s greatest friend.

The North Island has no alpine game species so Poronui clients will seek their tahr and chamois trophies in the South Island. A quick flight to Christchurch puts clients on the edge of great hunting territory in the Central South island, and their guide will point his truck into the interior where lodges and game await them. Another choice is hunting Glazebrook for chamois and neighbouring properties for tahr. The best clothing is light weight (climbing is hot work), layered (stops sweating), and wind proof (it can blow a lot) while well-treaded boots, quality glassing optics and an accurate long range rifle is essential. Spot, climb, stalk and shoot is the main tactic employed by foot hunters. The scenery alone is worth the price of admission.

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