Hunting in New Zealand - A Guide to the Seasons
Timing is crucial in hunting: not just during the hunt itself but also in preparation.
If you have your heart set on hunting one of our stunning Red Stags, it's just as important to plan your dates to coincide with the hunting season for Red Deer, which lasts approximately 6 months of the calendar year.
For the ultimate thrill-seeker, you'll want to ensure you book well in advance, so your hunt coincides with 'The Roar', an 8-10 week period during the Autumn months where Red Stags have increased aggression levels, as they seek to protect their harem of hinds from other males.
Use our thorough guide to which animals are available to hunt and when, to help plan your perfect New Zealand hunting adventure.
Summer (December - February)
Red Stags are in hard antler by the 3rd week of February. This is a great time to come and identify your trophy in advance of The Roar.
Fallow Deer can be hunted during this period, but for meat rather than trophy, as the Bucks aren’t yet in hard antler until the Autumn.
Autumn (March - May)
'The Roar' or 'The Rut' is the name given to the period between late March and early May where Red Stags, motivated by the scent of ovulating Red Hinds, roar their challenges of masculinity and dominance toward each other.
During The Roar, hunters can imitate the sound of a challenging stag to lure an alpha male into confrontation, although many hunters use the technique sparingly or refrain entirely, as our alpha stags will roar sufficiently regularly during this period to allow for tracking. Resisting the temptation to reproduce 'The Roar' allows for a stealthier approach as the Red Stag will be less likely to suspect an approach.
Hunters who choose to imitate a competing stag can entice the stags to approach them rather than vice versa. Duplicating the sound of a roaring stag can be achieved using a number of methods, all of which can be demonstrated by our on-site guides:-
- A simple cupped-hand technique
- Using a drink bottle or a tin can
- Using a hollowed out cow horn
- Using a simple, soft ribbed PVC pipe
'The Bugle' (Wapiti Elk's rut season) also occurs during this period, commencing slightly earlier than The Roar (usually around the second week of March). 'The Bugle' is so named in honour of the Elk's whistle during this season, in contrast to the more guttural roar of the deer. Wapiti bulls are much less cautious at this time of year, which makes for a truly exciting hunt.
Fallow Deer begin their own 'rut' in April, through till the end of May, so should you narrowly miss the window for the Red Stag Roar, hunting Fallow can be an exciting and viable alternative throughout May when their distinctive croaking grunt makes tracking and enticing the animals a real thrill.
Winter (June - August)
During this period, Red Stags are more likely to be found feeding and grazing. Much less vocal than during 'The Roar', the deer are more docile during this period. If the idea of pitting your wits against an aggressive, testosterone fuelled Red Stag doesn't appeal, this is the season to hunt, when the animals are much more passive.
Goats begin to rut in May and usually last through to July, while the Billy's dark, shaggy coats are arguably at their finest, although mating does occur all year around.
Hunting Billy Goats is definitely one of the biggest challengers a hunter can embrace due to their fine eyesight and lightning speeds.
Boar available to hunt, also.
Spring (September - November)
Red Stags are not available to hunt during this period as they shed their antlers by August.
Fallow Stags will shed their antlers by September, but both the males and females can still be hunted for venison.
Wapiti Elk are still available to hunt in September, as these stags typically shed their antlers a little later than the Reds, and of course, Goats and Boar can still be hunted throughout much of this period.