RED STAG REVERIE:
A RANGITATA HIGHLANDS ADVENTURE
It’s large size and huge antlers give the Red Stag immense presence. There is nothing like stalking stags during the rut or “roar” which takes place in March and April. It is exciting hunting at its best! Red deer are native to Europe and were first introduced to New Zealand in 1851. With no predators and a temperate climate, the conditions allow New Zealand Red Stags to grow large bodies and massive antlers.
Rangitata High Country Hunting own the largest private game estate in New Zealand – by far. Encompassing the entire Tara Haoa mountain range and rising to over 5000 ft in elevation. All accessible by 4x4 vehicle from the river valley floor up to the alpine plateaus lush with snow grass. These high valleys and basins are the rutting battlefields for the red stags fighting to stand their ground.
Heritage of New Zealand's
Red deer in New Zealand have a very interesting heritage. Arriving from as early as 1851 from deer parks in England and from wild stock in Scotland, it took several attempts of liberation. The arduous 4-month journey by sailing ship took its toll on the animals, but they finally got a foothold, and by 1899, the population was sufficient enough to issue 100 shooting licenses per year.
From then on, the deer population grew through to the halcyon days of stalking in the 1920s and 30s, then on to the days of government culling, followed by live capture from helicopters to the deer farming industry of today.
Rangitata High Country Hunting has many herds of Red Deer spread right across our different properties. We manage the deer the same way as the tahr, taking out the mature stags and keeping the number of females in check. Each year any surplus or older red stags from the farming operation are turned out onto the hill to live with the wild deer. This helps the wild deer by introducing new blood, and being from the farm, these stags carry very good genetics that get spread to the wild stock, which produces excellent trophy animals.
THE HUNTING EXPERIENCE
Our aim is for our hunters to take mature stags over 8 years old; the average antler size is 450 SCI. However, stags up to and in excess of 500 SCI can be found on our properties. The red stag roar is from early March through to mid-April, though stags can be hunted through to the end of July or early August. They start to shed their antlers by the start of September.
The Red Stag has a massive presence, and of all the game introduced into New Zealand, they are by far the most. Hunting the red stags of Rangitata is at the top of the list of most of our international guests.