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Improving the Odds for Hunters – It’s No Accident
– About

We are in the midst of a tremendous hunting season. Three sika stags taken that score over 190 DS. In the past a stag of this quality would only show up every few years. Some phenomenal red stag trophies shot, the biggest edging past 600 SCI.

What’s led to these fantastic results? It’s no accident. A contributing factor is undoubtedly the mild winter and early spring that provided extra food when the stags were growing out their velvet antlers. However, the sika management program, in place now for six years, is a major factor.

Deer Management Program
Research led by Cam Speedy of Wildlife Management Associates has guided the quality deer management program. During this time the age composition of the herd has changed completely. The female population, the reproductive engine of the herd, is now made up of young highly productive animals and the sex ratio is now far more evenly balanced with more and older stags. The pasture conversion process has ensured increasing amounts of quality feed and the feed is no longer being wasted on unproductive animals. The equation is pretty simple in hindsight – good genetics, good food and more stags being able to live long enough to develop their potential. It doesn’t happen overnight but the results are clear and with continued management likely to be enduring.

Habitat Management
The improvement in the estate hunting also owes as much to habitat management as it does to anything else. The range of species which include red, sika, fallow and rusa have benefited from the maturing vegetation within this huge hunting area. The mixed grassland, scrub and forested areas provide ideal habitats for each species as well as an incredible hunting experience. The development of the cattle operation within Poronui has been a major bonus. The cattle are used to manage the grassland areas within the hunting block. They chew back the rank grasses encouraging fresh growth and significantly improve the quality of feed available. The deer have benefited immeasurably – particularly the stags which need the best of food in early spring as they cast and start to grow new antlers.

The rusa herd has been one of the big winners. The increased areas of manuka have benefited this tropical species which thrives in the tight scrub particularly on the warm northerly faces. Recent mild winters have also benefited the herd which has increased rapidly in number and quality. Although difficult to hunt within the tight scrub gullies their habit of sunbathing in clearings on cold frosty mornings always gives the hunter an opportunity. Rusa rut in August providing an interesting late season trophy hunting opportunity with this year likely to be outstanding. The extra numbers of stags should boost the competition and the excitement levels!

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