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Sika: a balanced trophy
– Hunting Experiences

Of all the deer trophies available in New Zealand, sika trophies possess perhaps the most even and neat-to-the-eye head. Fallow, in comparison, seldom have two matching palms, but sika often produce identical antlers. The best-balanced sika trophies will have a matching eight-point (or better) set of antlers, beam of about four inches, spread of near 30 inches, strong long tines, and length pushing past 32 inches.

The best sika head registered with New Zealand Deerstalkers Association scored under the New Zealand Douglas Score (which rewards evenness) was a 10-pointer taken in 1941 in the Taharua Valley on Poronui land. It scored 228 and three-quarter inches. Any sika scoring over 170 inches is top shelf, and those scoring over 200 inches join the prestigious 200-plus elite club. The club has about 50 entries.

Understandably, a big eight-pointer or better is on the bucket list of most local and international clients booking a hunt at Poronui.

I’ve been lucky enough to have hunted Poronui on several occasions. I’ve shot two fine eight-pointer heads but the most perfect sika I have ever shot was with my camera, not my rifle. A storm had hit the Poronui hunting area hard, so accessing the best country was virtually impossible because of the flooding. Head Guide Mark McGlashan and I decided to leave the rifle behind on the worst day and see how the farm livestock was weathering the conditions. We expected to see wet cattle, not deer. We got the biggest shock when skirting some gum trees that flanked the farmland.

Two shadows got to their feet and eyeballed us at close range. The two mature sika stags had been sheltering under the trees out of the bitterly cold southerly wind and we had surprised them. Mark quietly ground the truck to a halt. I slipped out of the passenger door and put my camera to work. Normally both deer would have fled instantly but the cold weather and our slow approach had them confused. There was enough time to snap some shots before they took off. Both were top trophies but it was the eight-pointer, not the 10, that got the tick from me. It was so perfectly even.

In the years since that experience, I have not seen him appear in the Poronui trophy gallery so I imagine he is either still out there, or died naturally. Either way, he will have passed on some great Poronui sika genes to his offspring.

Greg Morton
One of New Zealand’s longest hunting/fishing profile journalists. Outdoors writer since 1987. Past positions include New Zealand correspondent for The Hunting Report; The Bird Hunting Report, and The Angling Report, and writing a regular hunting article for New Zealand Outdoor for 30 years. Presently writes a monthly article named Fair Chase for New Zealand Fishing News and a hunting blog for Poronui, while continuing his passion for hunting, fishing, and wildlife photography. Lives in Alexandra, Central Otago.
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