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Really Big
– Hunting Experiences

Mark McGlashan, head guide at Poronui, is not prone to exaggeration when talking about trophy animals he has seen. Recently, he casually mentioned to Marketing Manager Vicki Febery that this season he had seen a red stag that was “really big”. Outstandingly so; perhaps the largest one he had ever seen on the property. That got Vicki’s attention, and I am sure some prospective clients were excitedly told about the stag when Vicki and General Manager Steve Smith attended the Dallas Convention. Only the tape measurement later in the rut will confirm just how big the animal is.

Sightings like this are the ‘facts on the ground’ information trophy hunters want to hear.

The red stag roar will kick into gear around mid-March. How long it goes is influenced by weather and numbers of hinds available, but a general guess is six weeks or so, tapering away in late April. Over this time the bachelor boys will have stopped being mob companions and will be bitter rivals, fighting for females and turf. Incidentally, most of the hierarchy within the summer bachelor mob translates to dominance in the rut. The leaders then are the master stags in March. Old friendships will disappear in a red haze of testosterone as all the mature stags fight to control a large group of hinds, while satellite stags hang around the fringes.

The New Zealand red stag is an impressive beast. Majestic and powerful, his lion-like roar and swollen neck say don’t mess with me. Across New Zealand, the elite red trophies are estate red stags, as managed estates are the closest to game management that New Zealand has for its premier game animal. Poronui Hunting’s gallery section shows the quality of trophies harvested.

While hunting stags on Poronui, hunters will also see fallow buck, sika stag, rusa stag, Arapawa ram, and wild Pacific billy goat. There are lots of distractions when hunting red stag. Spotting stags is guaranteed — it is that sort of quality hunting destination — so the main hunting tactic is evaluating trophies from a lookout, planning a stalk if the opportunity for the selected stag presents itself, and getting close enough for an ethical shot by rifle or bow. Listen to your guide, be patient when glassing various stags, and come back tomorrow if conditions are wrong. Good optics (binoculars and scope) are your best investment, and comfortable boots and moderate to good fitness are both assets.

I will watch the 2020 gallery with real interest this year to see who has a successful encounter with the “really big” boy.

— Greg Morton

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