New Zealand Stag Hunt – The Hunt!

New Zealand Stag Hunt – The Hunt!

Morning on Lake Hawea is surreal. This gorgeous body of water is surrounded by mountains and hills. It looks like a scene from a movie! What’s even better than looking at this scene in the morning? Hunting it!

We took a beautiful drive up the valley to the base of a steep ravine for some glassing about. I was amazed to see so many fallow deer. However, no stags in sight at this particular juncture. We took to our feet and side stepped our way up valley to put some glass on another area.

Our efforts were handsomely rewarded when we put a stalk on two beautiful stags feeding down in a ravine. Getting within 20 yards, we were able to watch and video these amazing animals. What seemed like monsters to us were apparently smaller than our guide was in search of for us. To us, that didn’t seem possible! I do have to say, one of the beauties of hunting is the ability to get close to wildlife and really get to watch and study them. This was indeed a highlight of my trip.

After a morning of glassing and hiking, we retired to one of Glen Dene’s high cabins for lunch. Our views of Lake Hawea were stunning, the day was warm and anticipation was high. It was going to be a great day!

Our guide decided to check a new area that held some stag and we headed out. The afternoon had grown hot. Not Colorado hot…but Africa hot! We headed out on the high slopes, paralleling the lake below. As typically happens, we had let our guard down and start talking and joking when we bumped two stags from their beds. Now, suffice it to say, my stag was one of them. And as the guide promised, he was much, much bigger than the two we had watched in the morning. We decided to set up a stalk.

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We sat tight and glassed the stags who were moving along the hillsides until they dropped into a ravine that somewhat concealed us from them. We quickly worked to close the distance, stopping to glass at the edge of the ravine. The stags were not at all visible. We glassed more and worked our way slowly up the ridge line. We had not seen the stags leave the area, but we could not locate them in the dense brush. As we worked our way up the ridge, we caught site of antlers. My stag was there, but so was the other. And as it would be, the other stag was looking directly at us.

We decided to change tactics and we eased our way back down the ridgeline. Our plan was to cross the hillside we had just climbed, then work our way over the top of the stags. The wind was right so off we went. After a fast ascent, we crawled to the top of the ridgeline above the stags. As it would be, we could not visualize them again. Did we bump them? Did they move off?

After some time, we spotted antlers in the deep brush once again. I could see the other stag, but could not visualize mine from my location. I edged out over the ridge where there was little cover and was able to see to tops of this massive stag. He literally took my breath away.

However, I could not get eyes on his body. We had opted to leave shooting sticks behind (and were swearing to ourselves about it at this moment) and my shooting options were prone or off my knee from a sitting position. Prone was not an option with the brush, so I worked my way around on my hands and knees until I could get a proper shot. I situated myself. One settled in, I didn’t feel I could see enough to take a good shot. I crawled closer and resituated myself. That felt much better. I had literally gotten myself within 45 yards of the stag.

At this point, the other stag had noticed some movement and began to walk away from us. This was good! My stag then stood up, took a few steps away then stopped and turned back for a look. He gave me a perfect broadside shot, which I took. I could hear the hit, then watched him take a few steps and drop. The plan had worked, we got in great position and the shot was perfect.


It wasn’t a long jaunt to get to him, but as his final act of defiance he piled up in a deep hole that was surrounded by thorn bearing bushes. Of course it was. Between the wicked sand flies and the thorns, I had started a low grade hemorrhage.

We were able to move him for photos overlooking the beautiful Lake Hawea. We soon went to work field dressing and quartering. Then started the hard work of packing him out. You see, it was ALL uphill to get back to the truck. On the way out, I felt elated with the hunt and the beautiful animal harvested. And as always, I felt awe and respect for the beautiful animal that would provide me and others with such healthy meat.

We made it back to the truck and loaded up to begin the long drive back to the lodge. I can’t lie, I kept looking out the back window at this massive stag. The day was perfect, the hunt was perfect and it was hard earned. This adventure was far more than I had dreamed and I look forward to coming back to hunt chamois and tahr in these beautiful landscapes with the amazing Glen Dene Hunting.

One of the beautiful things about hunting in New Zealand is that you are allowed to take up to 50 lbs of meat back to the US. The remainder of the meat goes to local farm workers. 

About the Author

Kirstie Pike

Kirstie Pike is the founder and CEO of Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women, the leading edge for women’s performance hunting gear for nine years and running.
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