Red Stag Hunting in New Zealand
The red deer (Cervuselaphus) is one of the largest deer species and inhabits most of Europe. In New Zealand, red deer were introduced in 1851 and liberations continued for the next 50 years. Many of the 220 introductions used deer originating from Scotland. New Zealand red deer produce very large antlers and are regarded by hunters as amongst the best in the world.
Leithen Valley Hunts started with red deer. In the helicopter capture years (1960-1970s) the feral population was being hunted hard. The Stewarts could see the potential for conserving the deer for future generations to harvest and so they stopped helicopter hunting on Leithen Valley. As a result it became a reserve for the deer. It wasn’t long before a herd of 40 hinds (female deer) were congregating at the top of the hill. To preserve them and capture more deer 1000 acres was ring fenced.
The early 1980s bought tough times for farming in New Zealand so Sue and Alan started to let other hunting guides come to Leithen Valley to hunt. The first lodge that housed one hunter and one guide was built up in the beech forest gully in 1984. Thelodge still sits on this site and is used as a guides’ hut. After some payment issues, the Stewarts began looking for a better way to do things. They began marketing the business themselves, attending hunting conventions in the US.
In 1989, they started with one client shooting stags and some fallow. When the same hunter returned the next year, they knew they were on to something good. With the success of the business a new lodge was built in 2000. Now their daughter Rachel continues the tradition of supplying quality hunts
Troy Outland"Beautiful lodges and scenery! Every part of the hunt was beyond expectations. I have never seen a group of guides share years of knowledge, have so much patience and desire to harvest a trophy animal for their client. To harvest a beautiful Red Stag and a 14-year-old Tahr, is beyond any dream. I cannot thank Rachel and Olly enough for their hospitality and the trip of a lifetime!”