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HISTORY OF THE HERDS.

The Wairarapa Deer

Red deer were introduced to the North Island in 1862, for which the colony is indebted to his late Royal Highness Prince Albert, who, at the solicitation of Mr John Morrison, then New Zealand Government Agent in London, arranged to forward six deer to New Zealand — three for Wellington and three for Canterbury. Two stags and four hinds were captured in Windsor

Park, and housed then- tor a short time as a preparation for their long- sea vo\ age. One btag and two hinds were shipped by the Triton for Wellington, where, on June 0, one stag" and one hind arrived safeh , attei a passage of 127 da\ s, one hind having- died at sea. About the same time the three other dcci were shipped for Cantiibuiv, but as oim one hind was iandii there alive, it was sent to V -Hingum and placed with the two others. After being kept in (oninement foi several weeks the\ were liberated on \li Carter's rur. early in the year 186-5, and, crossing- the Ruamahang. River, took up their abode on the Maungar.iki Ranges from whence (says a Wellington A< climatisatK n Societ\ s report of ißq6) heads with the largest and best antlem have hitherto been obtained. A considerable p >rt'on of the Maung-araki Ranges, the repoit adds, is <f rich limestone formation, and has been well sown with Eng-lish grasses. The Wairarapa herd is now probably one of th( finest in the world. On Mr Riddiford's Te Awaite Station there must be now over ten thousand head of red deer. Indeed, they have become so numerous as to require thinning out. and last winter nearly a thousand hind^ were shot by permission of the authorities. On the White Rock Station there is also a fine herd, and Mi W . Barton, who owns the property, takes a great pride in its growth and preservation. On several other stations in the Wairarapa district the deer are also numerous ; but Te Awaite must be regarded as the best icd deer stalking ground in the world. The Wairarapa herd is being gradually driven fartheback, and confined to a more circumscribed area owinj to the march of civilisation. In a growing- colony deer where they occupy good arable land, must give place to sheep and cattle. The Wellington Acclimatisatioi Society, fully alive to this fact, has, for some years past, been devoting a good deal of attention to the establishment of other herds in rougher country, eminently suited

to deer, but not at all suitable for ordinary pastoral purposes. So far, their efforts have been successful, and, in time, the rougher parts of the Tararua Ranges will be one vast deer forest. The principal herd on the Tararuas is on the western side, back from Paraparamu. Here the deer have been increasing in numbers for nine years, and the herd must now number between forty and fifty. It will now increase rapidly, and. in a few years, there should be good stalking in that locality.

Another herd is being established on the eastern side of the range in the Eketahuna district, and now numbers between fifteen and twenty.

There is also a promising herd at Wainui-o-Mata, in the ranges beyond Wellington Harbour. The deer of this herd have taken up their abode on the reserve from which the capital of

the colony draws 11s main water supply, and must now number between forty and fitt\. Some vei\ good heads have been seen in this herd. One of the stags was, some time ago, found dead on the reserve, and the head has been set up and placed in the Town Hall. The stag had been shot by some poacher, who did not know what to do with it when he had got it.

During recent years the society has been liberating deer at other points along the Tararua Ranges, notably in the Ruamahanga and Tauherenikau Valleys. These valleys run into the highest points of the Tararua Range, west from Masterton. where there is a large tract of excellent deer country. In days to come this will be a glorious stalking-ground for the hard} New Zealand sportsmen and visitors from other lands. Theie is a splendid belt of forest many thousands of acres in extent, and, above the forest, excellent pasturage for the deer. Possibh the deer may destroy a good deil of the beautiful alpine flora

I now existing on this range; but, of course, we cannot have everything, and, no doubt in this, as in other matters, it will be a case of the survival ot the fittest.

7hk Hawke's Ba\ Herd. For some \c\us u<<\\ fan ly good stalking- has been obtainable m me nawkes B;i\ district. The progenitors of this herd I remembei seeing on Mr F. 1). Rich's Bushy Park Estate, Lower Shag Valley, near Palmerston South. Some of .Mr Rich's park deer were brought to the Hawke's Bay district by Mr Slirimpton in 1N75, and placed on his Matapiro Estate, whence they have spread principally to the ranges directly to the westward. They aie now to be found on the Olng, Kereru, Omahaki, and Timahanga Estates, the spurs < t the northern end of the Ruahine, on the Kawekas, and the eastern portion of the Kaimanawhas. Mr C. D. Kennedy, who has stalked in this district tor several seasons, writes me regaiding the herd, which numbers between lour and nve hundied, as follows. l 'lhe stock is very inbred and gieath in want ot a ciiange. 1 am of this opinion because tnev do not breed very well, and the heads are not as a rule big, though other conditions are favourable. The best one i have seen was a thirteen-pointer with very good quality of horn and tines, and a nice spread. This 1 got two years ago on liie tanges between the Kawekas and Ruahines, and enclose a photo of the head. Our license fee just now is rather prohibitive, being ,£5, the number of heads allowed to be shot being two. The icbult 01 niis is that \ery few licenses are issued, and the deer have a chance of mci easing. 1 am ah aid there is a good deal of poacning going on, and that a good number of heads are obtained Mil reptitioush . Our season, so far, has opened on different dates, but 1 now intend to recommend the society to adheie <is much as possible to a fixed date — viz., opening on the 20th March and terminating on me 30th April. The discussion regarding the ancestry of the Wairarapa deer has been most interesting. In

my opinion we have two distinct breeds

of deer, the deer in this district taking afte; the southern st.icr and difieriny trom the Wairarapa stag. The latter is apt to grow a head with more points and better sub-t .nee, thou^.i not of such good quality."

Another well kn<\\n stalker, and one of the best judges of a head in New Zealand, wi tes me to the effect that a rather unlooked-for, and in most quarters, unexpected development is the qualit\ of the Hawke's Bay heads. The writer says that they should, in a few years, be the best heads in the colony. They show a wonderful development every year. He adds that some of those shot this \ear are simply grand, but too young".

The deer from the 'l.iwl-es Bay heid have now found their way on to the eastern slopes of the Kaimanawas, and, it is to be hoped, w1 I Lp I thru way across the range. Here there is a \ ist area of lough count i\ whore they should thrive and multiply exceedingly. Looking <i< n --s tins country from the summit of the

This head of 22 points was shot b\ the late Mr Nat Grace. It was af presented to the Wellington Club by Mi Dalrymple. volcano of Ngauruhoe in May last, I could not help thinking what a magnificent deer forest it would make. The western slopes of the Kaimanawa Ranges, and the clumps of bush still farther westward in the Tonga riro National Park wiil afford excellent shelter for red deer, and, -n days to come, should be a stalker's paradise. An attempt was made, a few years ago, to stock the Tongariro National Park, but it ended disastrously Some Wairarapa Heads. The following are the measurements of some of the Wairarapa heads shown in the Christchurch International Exhibition. The list does not contain many of the notable heads, but is sufficient to give an idea of the quality of heads secured in the district : — E. T- Riddiford, Te Awaite. — First head: Points, 12; length, 17m; spread over all, 32^in ; span inside beams, 263 in ; coronet, yjin ; circumference of beam between bay and tray tines, 6£in ;

circumference of beam above tray inus, OJin. Second head Points, 12; length, spread, 35m. span, 27^111, toionet, Sim; circumferences. Gin and siin. Thud head Points, n, : length, 37m ; spread, 35m ; span, 25m ; coronet, 10; circumfeiences, s£in and sin. Fourth head: Points, 11; length, 36:|in. spread 34m ; span, 24iin ; coronet, .Sim; circumferences, s^lll. fifth head: Points, 14; length, 33^11 . spread. i^!in; span 26m: coionet, gin; circumferences, 6in and s^m. Sixth head: Points

16; length, }ism: spread, 36Vin ; span, 26m : coronet, SJin; circumferences, 6Jin and s^in.

E. W. Bunny, Te Awaite. — First head: Points, 13; length, spread over all, 363 m; span inside beams, 26m: coronet, gin; circumference of beams between bay and tray tines, sim: above tray tines, sin. Second head Points, 17; length. 38^in ; spiead, 36Jin ; span, 26in ; coionet. gin; circumferences sim and 5111. Third head Points. 13: length, 36iin; spread, 33 J in ; span, 27^in ; coronet Sgin ; circumferences, sim and sin. Fourth head: Points, 12; length, 36m; spread, 32iin ; span. 23iin; coronet, Bjin : circumferences, sjin.

T E. Donne, Wairarapa. — First head. Points, 14; lengt.i, 36m; spread over all, 36m ; span inside beams, 28in ; coronet, Q^m ; circumference of beam between bay and tray tires, Sim : above tray tines, s'.m. Second head: Points. 14; length. ?2jin ; spread, 10 4 in ; span, 31 Jin; coronet, <)in ; circumferences, sJin. Third head • Points, 1=; : length, 3<Sin : spread, 35-iin : span, 27m ; coronet. ;v 4 'in • circumferences, 6Jin. Mr Donne had seven other heads also secured in the Wairarapa district.

1.. H. Tupp. White Rock. — Points, 12: length, 35 Jin : spre'd o\er all, 27' in; span above beams, 2 5 Jin ; coronet, Sim: circumference of beams between bay and tray tines, sim; above tray tines, s i in.

J. Strang. Wairarapa. — Points, 17; length, 37m ; spread over all, 35m ; span inside beams, 24m ; coronet, giin : circumferences as above, 6in and -'in.

Mrs W. E. Collins. Wairarapa. — Points, 16; lentrth 4oin : spread over all, 42^in : span above beams. 34iin coronet, iojin : circumferences, 6in and siin.

P. Gow, Wairarapa. — Points. 16; length, 37\in spread over all, : span inside tines, 3SJin ; coronet iojin ; circumferences, 62in and 6in.

THE FIRST STAG

In connection with the Wairarapa herd Mr Leonard Tripp has placed at m\ clisp; sal some exceedingly interesting correspondence from Maior F. E. Campbell, who shot the first stag in New Zealand Elsewhere will be found a reproduction of this head. In view of the recent discussion on the question jf the pre valence of a German type in the Wairarapa herd, the photograph is particularly inteiestmg. It ceitainly shows no sign of German origin.

The story of how this stag came to be shot is well worth placing on record. It was in April, 1873. "That." writes Major Campbell, "was before the da\ s of licensed stalking, but Mr YYaterhouse, on whose station the stag was, told me that one of his shepherds being away from home, his wife tried to drive the stag

out of the gulden, thai the stag tiiaiged hci , and that she probably would h.i> c been killed had she not been able to creep under the house, uhien was built on piles. He considered the animal had become dangerous, and he had determined to ha\e him killed. He said I might have the job it i liked; but 1 was not to kill any other. There is no doubt about the one I killed being the patnaich of the heid. He was well known to the shepheicls and to Mi I* rank Waterhouse, who was with me when I got him. 1 sent the head to -Mr \\ aterhou.se and it w ,is in his house in Hobson street for some \ears; ijut when lie determined on finally leawng the colom , he sent it to me, and it is now in the hall of im son-in-law "s house, where I am living", at Awahuri, Palmerston .\orth. In the phon graph urn may, perhaps, observe that the right antler appears to be larger and heavic than the left- -w huh might seem to account to some extent for the abnormal de\clopment in the progeny, — but it is not s') in roalitv. the reason of the different appearance being" that the camera was inartistically placed. The left horn is quite as heavy as the other. They are a handsome pair, without a blemish.'" Writing" at a later date. Major Campbell says- — ''The only deer in the Wairarapa when I shot this stag" were those that came from Windsor Park and their progeny. They were not numerous at that time. From what I could gather from the shepherds and others they numbered probably under fifty. They had not scattered much, and their favourite haunt was portion of Mr Waterhousc's property. When I was looking for the old stag, I saw two or three \ "ungsters — six or eight-pointers. There was no difficulty in distinguishing at a ( <>nsiderable distance between them and th<* old one. When the stag was brought into the head station (he was killed thirteen miles away) all the shepherds came to have a look at him. and their unanimous \erdict was — c he's got the old "un sure enough." When the shenherds viewed the old stag dead, one or two of them were inclined to indulge in a lament: but they were all aereed it was a good thintr he was gone, as far as the increase of the herd was concerned, seeing that he had <=r>ent rrost of his time in driving the young stags aw ay." Mr Frank Waterhouse. a nephew of the late Mr G. M. Waterhouse. adds his testimony as follows — ct I remember nil the

PA. terwards

incidents in connection with the stalking of the old stag at Huangarua as clearly as if it had happened last week. I can only say that I had always been uiWer the impression that the stag you got, and which was known as 'the old 'un,' was the old patriarch stag that was sent cut to the colony by the Prince Consort. "

It will be of great inteiest to stalkers, both throughout Xew Zealand and Great Britain to know that the head of the original stag sent out by Prince Albert forty-five years ago was preserved and is still in the colony. Apart from the testimony of Major Campbell. Mr Waterhouse, and the shepherds, the fact that the stag was a tame one, as evidenced by his chasing the shepheid's wife, goes to prove the authenticity of the story. .\ 1 01 cover, .Mr T. E. Donne has in his possession one of the antlers supposed to have been sled by this stag, and on our comparing this antler with a photograph of the head taken many vcais ago we were both at once struck with the

-umilanty of the antlers. Theie can be no doubt that the antler in Air Donne's possession at one time belonged to the stag shot by Major Campbell — it is so remarkably like the left antler of the head in the photograph, the only material difference being tnat the shed antler has one more point than the antler on the head. This, ho\\e\er, might easily be accounted for under the supposition that at the time the stag was shot by Major Campbell he was beginning to "go back.'' As the shed antler was picked up in 1865, and the stag was not shot till 1873, or eight year later, this is a reasonable supposition. I understand Major Campbell has an idea of handing it over to some institution where it would be publicly displayed and well looked after

THE SHOOTING SEASON.

A gieat diversity of opinion exists as to when stag's ought to be shot. After getting their new antlers and coat in January and until rutting commences in .March they are in their prime, in fixing- the date late in the rutting season the council has hitherto been influenced by two considerations, the first and most important being that if the shooting season be opened prior to the commencement of rutting the largest stags, carrying the best heads, would probably be killed, and their service consequently be lost to the hinds, who would have to consort with young and immature stags, thus causing deterioration to the herds ; the second being that prior to rutting the big stags shelter themselves in heavy bush in outlying country, where access to them is almost impossible, and it is only during the rutting season that they come out into fairly open ground where they may be stalked with any degiee of success. By opening the stalking season before rutting is quite finished it ensures service of the best stags for the majority of the hinds, and enables the sportsman to secure " a good head," 1 the main desideratum of colonial stalkers.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/OW19071218.2.416

Bibliographic details

HISTORY OF THE HERDS., Otago Witness, Issue 2805, 18 December 1907, Supplement

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2,930

HISTORY OF THE HERDS. Otago Witness, Issue 2805, 18 December 1907, Supplement

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