Source: Department of Conservation
Date: 20 April 2021
The popular hunting competition is organised by the Department of Conservation’s Maniapoto District but was cancelled last year due to the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.
DOC’s Maniapoto District Operations Manager Graham Kimber says Sunday’s prizegiving saw 44 red deer heads entered for judging, while the new pig hunting category resulted in one young hunter taking away a $500 prize.
The deer heads were scored using the Douglas Score system, with local resident Joe Webb the main prize winner, presenting a head which scored 295.25 points. The Douglas Score is a system for measuring and evaluating antlers, horns and tusks of New Zealand big game animals by symmetrical size.
“The total number of heads judged this year is a little less than we’ve seen previously, but for many of our competitors just having the opportunity to hunt in Pureora and share tales of their time in the forest is the drawcard,” Graham Kimber says.
“There was a strong sense of excitement and camaraderie among this year’s entrants, many of whom commented on how pleased they were to be able to get out into the forest this year and compete again.”
Head judge Mark Sarjeant, judging the competition for the first time, says the heads entered were to a very good standard, with a number scoring between 250 and the winning 295.95 points. The solid head scoring reflects a Pureora herd population in good shape, particularly given the number of animals taken as part of this year’s competition, he says.
Mark Sarjeant says the competition was well-organised, had good weather, in good spirit, and a chance for many old friends in the hunting community to come together: “That’s the great thing about it, quite a few people who knew each other – everyone was very friendly.”
John Gunn, President of Te Awamutu Branch of NZ Deerstalkers Association, attended to support the event and man the association’s stand at the prizegiving event.
“There’s some good heads this year, and I think the extra year of growth – since we couldn’t hunt much last year – has made a difference,” he says.
He went hunting for several days over Easter, but the deer “weren’t overly co-operative, but that’s hunting”.
“But I’ll be back next year, no doubt – and hopefully with something to be measured!”
The annual competition is an important opportunity for DOC to assess the deer population in the forest, one of the most popular hunting areas in the North Island. As well as the judging of heads, Sunday’s event included displays by local conservation groups, spot prizes, and avian aversion training for dog owners who venture into the forest.
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