Deep-in Hunting Adventures 

———Experience the Difference 

Himalayan tahr




Size: Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus) are similar in appearance to large goats with adult males measuring up to just over one metre at shoulder height. Mature adult females seldom weigh more than 36 kg while adult males have been known to weigh as much as 136 kg.


Colour: In winter bull tahr have a much prized, thick reddish to dark brown pelt, with a lighter coloured mane and a more or less distinct dark stripe on their back. Females are usually lighter in colour. In the spring tahr lose much of their coat, and it becomes lighter in colour.


Horns: Both sexes have horns with males having slightly larger horns than females. The horns nearly touch at the base, curve and diverge backwards, and approach again at the tips. Tahr horns are measured from base to tip along the outside of the curve. Good specimens range between 28–36 cm. long.


Social behaviour: Tahr are gregarious animals forming three distinct social groupings, which come together around April-May in preparation for the rut. The first group consists of females, kids, and young males up to 2 years old. The second group is made up of mature bulls over 4 years old with younger immature bulls, 2-3 years old, forming another third separate grouping. During the middle of the day tahr rest, often well above vegetation line amongst rocky outcrops before descending to feeding areas in mid to late afternoon. The evening is spent at the lower levels before returning up to the higher altitude restring sites. In heavily vegetated areas (like South Westland) where helicopter hunting regularly occurs, animals often have the reverse behaviour, resting and sheltering below the vegetation line and feeding upward into favoured tussock feeding areas or laterally onto open slips in the evening and returning to cover in the early morning.


Reproduction: The rut occurs late May to mid-July and at that time the mature bulls mix with the female group staying only if there is a female in oestrus. Bulls competing for the same female can enter prolonged displays which rarely end in fighting. Females give birth to a single kid.


Gestation period: About 165 days.


Birthing: November-January.





Size: Males are 650-900 mm (shoulder height) and weigh 25-45 kg. Females are smaller at 600-800 mm shoulder height and weighing 19-35 kg.


Colour: Their summer coat varies from grey-brown, tan to honey-gold tone. Their much darker winter coat is dark brown/almost black. On their face they have a dark brown or black band that goes from the nose, around the eyes to base of horns. Their cheeks and throat are white or pale fawn.


Horns: Both male and females have horns which are black and slender. They arise straight up before curving backwards to form sharp hooks at the ends. Male horns are usually stouter and their hooks more strongly developed than females.


Social behaviour: Mostly feeding during the day, during summer time they feed for 3-4 hours from dawn and again for 3-4 hours before dusk. They rest during the middle of the day. During winter they feed less intensively, mostly at mid morning and mid afternoon. Outside of mating season, male and female chamois are largely segregated. Females and young form loose, unstable groups, and males are mostly solitary.


Reproduction: Mating season begins in early-mid May, peaking in late May to early June. During this time dominant males will gather available females in a harem, defending them from other males often posturing with imposing displays but rarely resulting in frontal attacks.


Gestation period: Variable 5 1/2 to 6 months.


Birthing: Single young are born from November to February.


Nomenclature: Male chamois are called bucks, females called doe, and their young called kids.

Red deer




Size: Males have a shoulder height of 1100-1300 mm and weigh 95-215 kg with females smaller at 950-1050 mm shoulder height and weighing 85-110kg. The head of red deer (Cervus elaphus) is longer and more bony in appearance than sika deer. Their ears are pointed and can be longer than half the length of their head. Red deer tails are short (12-15 cm) and match the colour of their upper rump.


Colour: The summer coat of red deer is typically a reddish brown. White spots are extremely rare on adults and limited to the area around the spine. Although red deer sometimes have a dorsal stripe, it is usually restricted to the neck and hip regions, and is rarely continuous. The winter coat of red deer is usually of a brown or grey-brown with the throat and underside being light grey grading to creamy-white between the hind legs. Although red deer have a cream rump patch, no margin is present and it cannot be flared as in sika.


Antlers: Antlers are grown and cast annually by males from their second year. The antler beams of red stags are larger and wider than those of sika stags. In cross-section, the bone component of the antler is thinner in red deer than for sika deer, and there is a comparatively larger porous core. In red deer, the brow tines usually branch closer to the coronet and are at right angles to the main antler beam. Red deer also have bez tines. Velvet antler growth starts between early September and December and is complete when the dried velvet is frayed from the hard antler between mid-January and mid-March.


Social behaviour: Red deer are sociable animals and form single sex groups outside of the rut period. Male groupings may be quite loose but female groupings are much more cohesive, made up of females their young and previous season's offspring. Feeding occurs early morning and late evening although in undisturbed areas or in periods of light rain feeding may occur over extended daylight hours.


Reproduction: Before the rut, male groupings break up as the older males seek to establish their own rutting area and attempt to attract females into a harem. During the roar, males will roar periodically, especially in the early morning and evening. Red deer make use of wallows, both during the roar and at other times of the year. The covering of mud accentuates the smell of a rutting male and can give the deer a larger, darker appearance. The rut is from late March through April with most conceptions occurring early to mid-April.


Gestation period: 221 to 252 days. Average 234 days.


Birthing: Late November and December, peak early December. Fawns born with reddish brown coats scattered with white spots on back and flanks. Spots disappear in about 2 months.

Rusa deer



Size: Male height about 1060 mm at the shoulder and weighing 122 kg, females 810 mm shoulder height and weighing up to 70 kg.


Colour: Males dark reddish-brown summer coat changing to dark greyish-brown in autumn. Females pale yellowish-red in summer and greyish-red in winter. Chin, throat and underparts cream.


Antlers: Present in males only. Antlers cast December-January and new growth complete by May. Normally 3 points on each antler, with the inner tine longer than the outer and nearly parallel with the inner tine of the other antler.


Social behaviour: Wary and semi-nocturnal rusa spend much of the day holed up in thick vegetation cover. They live in small groups and have relatively small home ranges. Prefer mixed grass areas for feeding and often utilise adjacent farm paddocks and crops.


Reproduction: Rut commences mid-July and continues into August. Males collect a harem of females. The actual male rusa's roar could be described as a short husky growl rather than the drawn out bellow of a red stag. Males roar infrequently perhaps only 2-3 times a day with concentrated activity early morning and late afternoon. Males wallow and mark their territory with scrapes. While servicing these scrapes, males leave an unmistakeable scent that could be described as a pungent sickly sweet aroma.


Gestation period: About 240 days.


Birthing: Fawns are born March – April. Twins rare.

Sika deer



Size: Males 850-950 mm shoulder height and weighing 75-85 kg with females smaller at 700-800 mm shoulder height and weighing 45-60 kg.


Colour: Summer coat typically a sleek bright chestnut colour, grading to a creamy white on the belly, with white spots along the back and flanks. Spots fade as the winter coat grows, and the animal takes on a more uniform brown-grey colour. Sika deer typically have a distinctive black dorsal stripe, which extends from the ears to a patch at the base of the tail. This stripe is visible on both summer and winter coats, but is more defined in summer. Sika deer have a relatively large white rump patch, which flares out when the animal is alarmed or disturbed. This patch has a dark margin near the base of the tail which fades to the colour of the body hair as it extends down the hind legs.


Antlers: Only male carry antlers, which are cast in November-December and new ones hardened by March. The antler beams of sika stags are smaller and thinner than those of red stags. In cross-section the bone component of the antler is thicker in sika deer than for red deer, and there is a comparatively smaller porous core. The brow tines (antler spikes) usually branch from the main antler beam 2-3 cm or more above the coronet, point upwards and slightly outwards, and are gently curved. In red deer the brow tines usually branch closer to the coronet and are at right angles to the main antler beam. Sika do not have bez tines whereas these are present in red deer. In sika deer, the trez tines are relatively high up on the antler and typically small. The two top tines are forked and the outer top tine is typically longer with a considerable length of white smooth antler. The main beam of sika deer antlers has a characteristic reinforcing ridge between the brow and trez tines.


Social behaviour: In sika deer both sexes have a shrill, high-pitched whistle which they use when disturbed or alarmed. Sika hinds are generally more vocal than stags, except in the month (usually November) before fawning. Sika deer often whistle repeatedly while making their escape from disturbance. During the roar, sika stags have a call that can best be described as being similar to a donkey "hee-haw".


Reproduction: Rut late March to early May. Hinds give birth to a single fawn although there are reports of twin embryos occurring. Hybridisation between sika and red deer may occur where their ranges overlap.


Gestation period: About 210 days.


Birthing: November-January.

Wapiti deer




Size: Wapiti have a shoulder height of 1200 – 1500 mm with males weighing 300-450 kg and females at 200-270 kg. Colour: Winter colour yellowish to brownish grey, underside blackish, head neck and legs dark chestnut brown. Rump patch large and uniform cream bordered with dark brown. Summer body coat more tawny, reddish or light bay with dark legs. View a photo comparison (external site)


Antlers: Carried by males only, grown and cast annually. Maximum size reached at about 7 years old.


Social behaviour: Feeding occurs early morning and late evening, eating a range of grasses, herbs, shrubs and other plant material (eg broadleaf, kamahi, silver beech, lancewood). Wapiti behaviour and habitat use is similar to red deer, which wapiti freely mix and breed with.


Reproduction: Rut begins in mid March to end of April. Males emit a whistle like bugle rather than the roar of a red deer.


Gestation period: 247 to 262 days.


Birthing: Most young are born between, late November and mid December


Sambar deer




Size: Males average 1370 mm shoulder height and 245 kg in weight with females smaller at 1150 mm shoulder height and weighing up to 157 kg.


Colour: Uniform brown darkening to almost black in older animals with tan to rust red on the rump. Under parts grey to mid brown.


Antlers: Thick, heavily pearled and normally three tined (brow and trez tines and a terminal tine at the end of the main beam). Antlers cast November to December with new ones grown January to March hardening between June and November.


Social behaviour: Males solitary except during the rut. Young males and females form small groups of 2-5 animals. Feed mainly at night and during the day seek shelter in scrub or forest cover. Form complex trail systems accessing feeding areas from day time cover


Reproduction: The rut can happen any time between late May and December with June to August the usual period. The females, attracted by noise and scent, visit the male for a short period until mating takes place. (Harems are not formed.) Males are not particularly vocal during the rut but are known to emit a short harsh belling noise which is rarely heard by hunters.


Gestation period: Approximately 240- 264 days.


Birthing: March-April or July-September.

White-tail deer




Size: Males stand around 1000 mm at the shoulder and weigh 50 kg plus with females lighter at 40 kg plus.


Colour: Male and female similar in colour with winter coat grey-brown and summer a light brown. The underside, chin, upper throat, and rump patch are white. Tail long, grey brown fringed with white and white underside.


Antlers: Only male carry antlers, which curve forward with vertical tines and no brow tines. Antlers are cast July to August with new ones hardened by following March. Social behaviour: Female white-tail deer and their offspring live in small family groups while the males live separately.


Reproduction: Females usually give birth to their first calf when two years old. Calves require milk for the first three months and stay with their mother for eight to nine months. The rut occurs late April to end of May, peaking middle May. Bucks do not call during the rut make wallows or round up females in a harem they stay with an individual doe while she is in oestrus.


Gestation period: 187 – 222 days.


Breeding: Most calves born in December- January.

Wild pig




Size: Smaller than domestic pigs with more muscular bodies and males especially having massive forequarters and smaller hindquarters. Males stand nearly 1000 mm at the shoulder and can weigh as much as 45 - 205 kg with females smaller at 600 mm high and weighing up to 114 kg.


Colour: Most commonly black but there is considerable local variation in colour with ginger, sandy brown, white, grey and smoky blue, or combinations of these colours.


Tusks: Extend out from the lower jaw and curve upwards, outward and backwards. Triangular in cross section the tusks can protrude 150 mm plus.


Social behaviour: Mainly active in daylight although where subjected to hunting pressure may become more nocturnal or restrict their activity to early morning and late afternoon. Relatively sedentary feral pigs, where food, water and cover are suitable, will occupy home range areas in mobs of both sexes. Females with litters and older males will often live alone. Feral pigs are omnivorous, eating a wide variety of food including grasses, roots, seeds and other plant material as well as carrion, earthworms and insects.


Reproduction: Feral pigs breed throughout the year with main time spring and summer. Litter size is 6-10 piglets with survival likely to be 3-6. Newborn piglets stay within or near the nest for first 2-3 weeks, weaning occurs at 2-4 months and young pigs stay with the sow until the next litter is due.


Gestation period: About 112-114 days.


Birthing: Throughout the year, mainly spring and summer.

Feral goat




Size: Adult male goats in New Zealand stand around 60-80 cm at the shoulder and weigh an average of about 42 kg. Females are smaller (shoulder height around 60-70 cm) and lighter (average around 30 kg) than males.


Colour: The coat is generally short haired with variable amounts of underfur. The hindquarters of both sexes, and the neck and shoulders of males may be shaggy. Colour wise, they can be black, white or brown, or any combination of these. All males and some females are bearded as adults.


Horns: In New Zealand both sexes have horns. In females they are slender and curve upwards and backwards, with a clear space between the bases. In males the horns are larger and sweep up and backwards or up and outwards in an open spiral. The horns may touch at the base. The horns are not shed annually like antlers but are retained for the life of the animal. Males are the largest sex, with clearly heavier forequarters, shaggier coats and larger horns. There is great variability in the colour, pattern and length of the coat, and in horn form and body size, related to the breed origins and nutritional condition of local populations.


Social behaviour: Goats are highly gregarious living in groups of mixed ages often containing both male and female animals. Being browsers goats will eat a wide range of plant material including shrubs, trees, grasses and weed species such as blackberry, brier rose and gorse. During summer months goats tend to feed early morning and late afternoon with periods in the middle of the day spent resting whilst ruminating. In winter with its shorter days goats will be found eating throughout the day. Goats dislike wet conditions and in inclement weather will seek out shelter from rain and wind.


Reproduction: In New Zealand there is virtually year round mating, often peaking November-December, with most females breeding in their first year. When about to give birth, females move away from the group and it can take up to a year before integrating back with other goats occurs. A high percentage of twins are born.


Gestation period: 5 months.


Birthing: Can be any month.

European rabbit


Size: Adults up to 2 kg.

Colour: Grey brown with paler underside. Infrequently black, ginger and silver-grey colours encountered. Eyes brown. Tips of ears narrow black rim.

Social behaviour: In high density populations rabbits live in a complex of underground burrows (warren's) and in lower numbers above ground cover. Home range about 1 ha.

Reproduction: Timing, litter frequency and size dependent on habitat conditions with productivity as high as 45 to 50 kittens (young rabbits) per year in good areas, down to around 20 in poorer areas, average litter five. Kittens are born blind in underground burrows and emerge at about 3 weeks old.

Gestation period: 30 days.

Birthing: Most months although frequently not March to May