Issue 69 - Feb/Mar 2019 | On Sale Mon 4th Feb 2019
It’s rapidly approaching that time of year that all hunters look forward to – the stag’s antlers hardening and the coming of the roar!
Now is a great time of year to harvest some fat venison and some will be already looking for stags. There are a few things to consider if you’re looking to collect some antlers you’ll be proud of. Firstly, some facts about how a stag’s antlers grow - they pump calcium rich blood up through the pedicles and into the newly forming ever enlarging “receptacle”. A calcification honeycomb progressively forms the pathway that the blood continues to flow up through to carry more calcium to fully form the shape of the stag’s antlers. This means the antlers as you see them forming and growing in girth and length are hollow pathways for blood to flow through. It is not until the full external shape is reached, that they then start to calcify and solidify the internals of the antlers. That is why the blood supply continues and they don’t start stripping and rubbing the minute they are fully formed externally, or they would end up with hollow “polystyrene” antlers that would be no good to fight off anybody – remembering that is the whole reason for the antlers in the first place, to fight off rivals for their hinds.
It is also for this reason that NZDA competitions only allow antlers that are naturally stripped to be entered so they are fully formed both internally and externally. A lot of Europeans judge antlers on weight, not size, so again ensuring they are fully formed and calcified before being hunted. There are very strict rules governing this sort of thing around most of the world, but here in NZ we have no rules, as the government currently classes all deer as the same regardless of sex, age or trophy potential – just an introduced species they would prefer to be removed from public land. Therefore, it is up to us hunters to self-manage and apply our own sensible ethics to what we do.
For herd management, ideally none of the best stags still in their prime would be shot until they’d had some chance to pass on their genes. Rather, only stags that are culls for antler quality and trophy older stags that have done some breeding would be shot. It is even more important that those interested in trophies show sensible ethics when you realise the external competition from the likes of Waro operators who target stags for their weight and velvet, and even recreational meat hunters, often having completely the wrong impact on trophy herd management. You can’t blame a meat hunter who isn’t interested in trophies for shooting the first animal they see. All you can hope is that if there’s a choice of animals to shoot, they’ll think of other hunters and leave the promising trophy and shoot the fat hind, yearling or cull stag instead.
It seems these days some trophy hunters are in a race to the bottom, trying to shoot the stags earlier and earlier while they are still in soft velvet and far from fully formed. Or before they have reached any sort of maturity just to beat someone else to the head. Look what happened in Fiordland last year when the Wapiti blocks were closed for February to stop the damaging pre-rut hunting. A bunch of hunters both Kiwis and overseas, just went in even earlier in January to beat everyone else.
Trophy hunters in NZ need to grow-up and be less selfish in what they do, especially at this time of year. The shooting of a velvet trophy always causes much controversy, with very vocal proponents both ways – especially on social media. Do you want the big stag you shoot to be a trophy to remember, or a light weight “polystyrene” one with a dark cloud hanging over it shrouded in debate?
Famous hunting conservationist Aldo Leopold said: “Ethicalbehavior is doing the right thingwhen no one else is watching even when doing the wrong thingis legal.” With our non-existent statutory game management, this quote very much applies to hunters in New Zealand.
The spot the logo winners for the Dec/Jan issue are Mike Ide and Sean Murphy - the logos were on page 23, Zeiss scope ad and page 92, Bushnell optics ad.
From all here at NZ Hunter, we hope you all get out for many adventures in the New Zealand wilderness over the rest of the summer and the roar - and don’t forget to tune in to all new Season 5 of NZ Hunter Adventures, returning Wednesdays nights from February 13 at 8:30pm on TVNZ DUKE and Sundays 2pm on TVNZ 1!Greg
In this issue:
- A huge Canterbury Public Land Stag
- Sika Success with Jacques Jacobs
- The latest from Todd Howard and Co – Richie’s Time to Shine ... Again
- A Tararua Roar hunt with Adam Schmidt
- An unusual hunt for a Main Divide Stag - Dave Greig
- Oliver Wiggins-Crowe goes on an Alpine Adventure
- Gredos Ibex – an international hunt with Simon Warbrick-Smith
- PointsSouth brings a Guide to Roaring Stags
- Short Range Hunting – In the Bush with Johnny Bissell
- Backcountry Sika and How to make a Deer Backpack
- DIY Jetboat – the team from Wattscraft walks us through what you need
- A bit of Bush Dentistry with one of NZs authorities on ageing deer, Allan Jackson
- Who needs a PLB? By the Mountain Safety Council
- The Mullins Basin Hut - Permolat
- Quick and Easy Camp Cooking by Paul Garland
- Scenic Photography and the Paradise Duck with Matt Winter
- The Cardinal Sin – Goose shooting with Paul Stenning
- The GAC shares their plan for 2019
- Shepherd DRS 6-24 x 50mm Sniper Series S1C riflescope
- Leupold Santiam SX-5 Spotting Scope and BX-5 Binoculars
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