Hunting Red Stag in New Zealand

The majestic red stag deer came to New Zealand from Scotland and England in the 1800s, and today is one of the most sought after trophies on any hunting excursion. Found across most parts of New Zealand, some herds still retain their original characteristics, however, in many cases blood lines have been diluted, resulting in less distinctive antler structures. Still, there are many of these majestic deer, and few hunting restrictions.

Red stag deer range in colour from brown to dark red with a lighter cream colored rump, inner thigh and underbelly.  During summer, they may display spots along the spine, while their pelage becomes grey or darker brown, with the lighter undersides and rump. Both male and female red deer have tails in the same colour as their caudal patch. The 15 cm tail usually has a dark dorsal stripe extending up towards the spine. Red deer have a visible gland on the bone above the hoof on the rear legs.

Younger red deer tend to have shorter heads, as they don't have as many teeth as adult deer, and calves have spots for the first two months of their lives. Older deer will turn ginger in colour.

The ultimate goal for the red deer hunter is epitomized in Sir Edwin Landseer's painting, The Monarch of the Glen. It illustrates a twelve pointer stag (royal head), with three lower points (trez, bez, and brow) and three points on top that must be large enough to hold a glass of wine. The imperial head must have fourteen points, including two royal tines and two surroyal tines on both sides.

A mature stag typically weighs approximately 400lbs.

The red stag deer is the ultimate attraction during a hunting trip in New Zealand.

New Zealand red deer produce very large antlers and are regarded as amongst the best in the world by hunters.


Red Deer Fact Sheet

Scientific Name: Cervus elaphus
Stag Weight: 160 - 240kg
Female Weight: 120 - 170kg
Gestation period: 236 days
Height: 95 - 130 cm
Length: 175 - 250 cm


Hunting Considerations

Red stag deer hunting typically takes place during the roar and in spring. After the winter months, spring is the time during which red stag deer are most hungry. Their hunger drives them out of the thick cover of forest and onto the open grasslands and clearings.

Spring (November or December) is the best time to hunt for a red stag deer for meat. Yearlings and two-year old red stag deer are less cautious than the older deer, and they tend to be more likely to come out into the open.

The roar (April) is another good time to hunt, since the stags are quite vocal, which makes them easy to locate. Breeding hormones cause the stags to roar and grunt in a bid to exert dominance.

Bullets that carry 1200 foot lbs of energy at impact should be the minimum consideration. Opt for Winchester Silvertip, Remington Core-Lokt, or Hornady InterLock would be recommended. Suitable cartridges would include anything from 6.5mm Remington Magnum to .264 Winchester Magnum, .308 Winchester, .35 Whelen, 9.3x57, .444 Marlin and 45-70 in similar cartridges. Speak to your professional hunting guide about finding the perfect option for your needs and level of experience.

Shot Placement

The goal with shot placement, is to result in an immediate loss of consciousness and death.

Head shots should only be considered at close range and only as follow-up shots. Neck shots don't always break the spine, which means that a non-fatal wound may only paralyse a deer.

The best shot placement for a red stag deer, is a chest shot, as it minimizes suffering, achieves rapid death and avoids carcass contamination. Aim for the spot halfway up the body from just above the foreleg.


Red Stag Shot Placement


Red Stag Shot Placement

Quartering Away

Red Stag Shot Placement


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