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For avid big game hunters, adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies, there’s no better destination than New Zealand. Its chiseled, postcard-perfect landscape beckons to be explored and conquered, and its mixed bag of unique game animals made it the ideal place for the Field & Stream crew to plan a hunt.

We joined Field & Stream Pro Staffer and renowned outdoorswoman Melissa Bachman at Rata Marie Deer in search of trophy red stag. Here’s a recap of our adventure.


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The Hills

New Zealand’s picturesque countryside was as beautiful as it was grueling. We burned lots of pixels—and calories—trying to do justice to the incredible views that greeted us each morning as we traversed the rugged hills.

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The Climb

Make no mistake:  If you plan to hunt red stag in New Zealand, be prepared to hike, sweat, and hurt. Like elk, stag prefer the high country, and they’re much better at navigating it than you and I.

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The Hunter

We were joined by Melissa Bachman, Field & Stream Pro Staffer, decorated outdoorswoman and host of Winchester Deadly Passion.

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The Light

New Zealand was a photographer’s paradise. The South Pacific sunrise seemed to have a quality unlike anywhere else.


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The Search

Bachman logged lots of bino time in search of elusive stag, making great use of a Field & Stream Binocular Strap. The cross-body straps ensures an ultra-comfortable fit, whether you’re hiking the trail or glassing for hours on end.

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The King

Like fabled creatures straight out of a fairy tale, stags have a unique presence about them. Much like the elk that roam the Rocky Mountain West, these regal monarchs carry themselves with confidence.

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The Ghost

A trophy stag was truly an incredible sight. This old warrior struck a pose as he roared repeatedly before cresting the ridge and disappearing out of sight.

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The Guide.

Outfitter Tony Punch peered into a steep valley known to hold high numbers of red stag.

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The Sidekick

Butch, Punch’s faithful companion, did a great job of spotting game, begging for belly rubs, and keeping morale high.

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The Game

Fallow deer are another highly sought-after game animal in New Zealand. Native to western Eurasia, these elusive deer are smaller in body size to the whitetail deer of the U.S., but they sport large, palmated antlers, and can be spotted white or dark brown.

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The Finale

After several days of seemingly endless hiking, unrelenting heat and humidity, sore muscles, and encounters that didn’t quite work out, we tasted sweet success. The innovative Field & Stream C3 Lightweight Gloves [for men and women] feature odor-controlling, scent-absorbing technology, along with a handy Heat Seal that ensures maximum warmth and comfort. Features like these helped us endure the elements during a tough hunt.

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The Crew

It takes considerable effort, coordination, and teamwork to document a hunt like this. Our crew and our gear had to be up to the task. High-quality, technology-packed apparel and gear from Field & Stream, like the Women’s Carolina Pack (left) and the Men’s Powderhorn Internal Frame Pack (right), helped the hunters and camera crew comfortably pack all the essentials—allowing us to focus on the hunt, not our gear. The hard work definitely paid off, and New Zealand became a favorite destination of the Field & Stream team.

Read more about this hunt here.

Photos: John Hafner