Red Deer and Red Stag Hunting New Zealand

Red Deer ( Cervus elaphus )

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Artiodactyla
  • Suborder: Ruminantia
  • Family: Cervidae
  • Subfamily: Cervinae
  • Genus: Cervus
  • Species: C. elaphus

Red Stag are known as one of the most majestic animals in the world. Red Deer were introduced to New Zealand more than 150 years ago and now roam throughout the 3000 acres of Spey Creek. Spey Creek Trophy Hunting has some of the best red stag hunting New Zealand has to offer. Fall (red deer hunting season) begins at the end of February and runs through to July. During this time 300 class red stag, right through to some of the world´s top SCI red stags, are available for hunting

Red Stag Description

During the summer, Red deer are dark red or brown with a lighter color of cream on the underbelly, inner thighs and rump. There may also be some spots on the summer coats, particularly along the spine. In winter, the pelage changes to a darker brown or grey, with lighter patches on the rump and undersides. It is notable that their caudal patch tends to reach higher up the rump than is the case with other deer.

Both sexes have tails of approximately 15 cm in length which are generally the same color as the caudal patch. This tail may have a dark dorsal stripe that can extend upwards along the spine. There is also a visible gland high on the cannon bones (the long bone immediately above the hoof) of the rear legs.

Appearance can also be influenced by age and condition, for example yearlings and calves have a shorter head due to having fewer teeth in their jaw than an adult. Alternatively, when deer condition begins to fail through age their coats will often appear to be ginger in colour, even in the winter months. Calves are spotted at birth but generally loose these spots after about 2 months.

Red Stag Mating and Reproduction

During the Rut (March and April in New Zealand), the stags that up to this time of year have been living in large stag groups start to become intolerant of each other. An increased testosterone level causes this reaction, along with an increase in neck and testicle size. At this time hinds begin to reduce their range and congregate in traditional rutting areas.

Shortly thereafter, in stags breakout-out from the stag groups and take possession of hind harems. Once resident, these master stags which are invariably between the ages five and 11 years old, start defending their harem and herding in any passing hinds.

Fights between stags are common and very often cause serious or fatal injury. The severity of these fights is directly related to the degree of threat, that is, the bigger the stag, the bigger the fight. There are also a number of other activities that are associated with the rut which are:


This can be either a challenge, a demonstration of size or, after fighting, the reinforcement of status


Used to reinforce a warning to young stags after they have been chased away.

Thrashing and Wiping

The scent marking of a holding area by rubbing antlers and scent glands against the ground and prominent landmarks.


The stags immerse themselves in muddy pools, many of which contain urine.


The sniffing of areas which hinds have either occupied or urinated upon, often associated with the curling of the upper lip.

Mutual Sniffing and Licking

Both hinds and stags spend a considerable amount of time sniffing and licking each other


Stags, throughout the rut, will continue to herd hinds; both those already resident and others passing within easy reach.


A stag´s pursuit of hinds around the rutting stand, often with neck and tongue extended


Mounting only takes place at the peak of a hind´s oestrus. A number of mountings may take place over a period of up to an hour. The hind determines the selection of the mating partner, and the time of mating. Most hinds conceive at the first mounting, however if this fails then, as polyestrus animals, they will come into oestrus up to a further two occasions, with approximately 18 days between cycles


This generally follows a set sequence. It starts with the master stag approaching the intruder; in younger stags this is normally sufficient to displace them. However, if the intruder is more confident, a period of parallel walking and mutual roaring will precede the actual locking of antlers. The more serious challenges will involve repeated antler locking and pushing until one stag is pushed backwards, at which point there will be a short pursuit and the contest will end.

Voice and Calls

During the rut stags are heard to issue an impressive roar. This is a series of deep guttural sounds from one breath, which can be repeated many times. The roar can be given as a challenge, an indication of size and stature or to reinforce the winning of a fight. They can give a short bark of warning, but this is normally reserved for lesser stags that pose no real threat. Outside the rut they are generally silent with the exception of an occasional warning bark. When calving, hinds develop the calving bellow which is only heard at that time of year, but they can also give a warning bark when alarmed.

Contact Wyatt McBride 830-444-2128
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