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Free-Range Sika Trophy Hunting at Poronui
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I always remember a comment Mark McGlashan, the head hunting guide at Poronui, made about free-range sika deer. His comment was that the free-range sika produce the largest antlers on the property. That is because wild sika are opportunists and those living outside the Park get a more varied, higher quality diet living on the periphery of the farmland and logging operations, hence growing bigger antlers. The results bear this out and over the years free-range trophies taken by clients of McGlashan and Andrew Philpott have constantly been in the 180 to 200DS bracket. These are outstanding stags.

Free-range trophy sika stags are a hard male to just luck on. They are very wired, very cunning and very aware of their surroundings. By choosing Poronui a client has selected well as it is a premier location for free-range sika, possessing both quantity and genetic quality of animals and its guides know the area intimately. The reality of a free-range hunt here is that a lot of the hard work has been done before the client gets in the truck. The guide has done copious amounts of pre hunt scouting to find where the big boys are hanging out. Certain spots year after year are claimed by big sika stags. The stags are very territorial so once a trophy is located it is a case of wait and watch scrapes and clearings, listen and call back to territory calls, or select an ambush spot that intercepts animals moving from spot A to spot B. Probably the hardest hunting technique is trying to stalk in on a squealing stag in thick cover. With the increase in logging operations a new form of hunting is also going to occur more. That is watching the bush edge where native or exotic forest meets cut over logging zones or developed farmland. The long rifle shot from cover is going to be a very successful tool in the years ahead. The roar is the most exciting time to hunt free-range stags because of the frenetic action and calling but the winter months following the rut is another prime time to secure a trophy. That elusive stag who outwitted all hunters has now lost a lot of his caution, is hanging out in the open cutover all day with his male mates eating grass to put on much needed lost condition. The most important tools for a Poronui free-range sika hunter client is good binoculars, quiet footwear and clothing, a rifle that is accurate out to long range and a good guide who can call like a sika.

Greg Morton

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