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The goal is venison
– Hunting Experiences

When hunting deer for venison, not for a trophy, the selection preference changes. Yearlings and young females or young management stags are the targets, not older mature animals. Poronui has a reputation for having a large, healthy population of free-range sika, so no meat-hunting visitor should go home with anything less than prime venison.

Found only in the North Island of New Zealand, sika have dark-colored flesh that has been described by American guests as similar in taste to elk. Tasty, in other words. As a South Islander, I love visiting Poronui because I get to take home venison from one of the ‘top eating’ deer species found in this country.

If I was asked what really makes sika venison such great meat I would sum it up in three phrases:

  • It tastes good because of its healthy organic diet
  • It’s lean meat and has very little fat
  • It has a satisfying after effect mellowness on the eater.

Poronui chef Steven Patterson knows sika deer well and often shares his venison recipes. One example is his winter venison stew pie.

To get sika venison you have to bypass the supermarket and go out into the hills with a Poronui guide to hunt. You’ll succeed if you follow this routine: find game, select an appropriate animal, stalk and outwit one of nature’s most cunning herbivores, ethically and humanely harvest the selected animal, clean and process the carcass wasting no meat, chill the meat, and then prepare the cuts for eating. You will have earned your meal in an authentic manner, in an amazing environment. Smiles will happen often.

Going on a Poronui venison hunt is a great outdoor activity for family or friend groups, and those of different generations and genders. Various accommodation options are available.

Late spring and throughout summer are great times to plan a venison visit as deer are putting on condition after winter. They tend to become farmland fringe visitors at this time of year and can also be found on grass clearings on hill faces. Their main attention is on eating grass so they are not as wary as at other times of the year. Yearlings have also been kicked out of their family units as mothers now have new fawns. These spikers and young hinds are very naive and can appear in strange places, at strange times of the day, and be curious rather than fearful.

Dawn and dusk hunts should see venison in the back of your vehicle quite quickly.

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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