The Otago Stag Governor’s Tag

The name Governor’s Tag we have adopted from the American Tag and license system where the purchaser is exempt from any application, drawing / ballot process, or waiting period to secure a hunt for a limited opportunity species and potentially for one of the largest trophies available. A big attraction of purchasing this tag is that the hunter is contributing to the conservation of the species that they care about. These same principles apply to the Otago Stag Governors Tag. One Governors tag available per season. Available 2025. Available 2026.

A special licence to hunt a very special Otago stag with Chris as your personal guide. We have only one Governor’s tag available each season. By spending a huge amount of time in the field and careful observation we have located a handful of simply mind-blowing Otago stags.

Identified as four- or five-year-olds with exceptional potential we have watched these stags grow through their development years and mature into ‘something special’. These stags have purposely been left as master stags (breeders) for the benefit of the herd. The Governor’s tag will directly target these stags late in their breeding years at the peak of their trophy potential, before their trophy quality declines with age. We know where these stags rut, we know where they grow their velvet and we know how to target them.

Benefits of purchasing an Otago Stag Governor’s Tag

  • Hunt is guided by your Outfitter Chris McCarthy, full time assistant guide also included.
  • Peak roar dates.
  • 6 full hunting days allocated for this hunt (standard hunt 5 days) Additional days available.
  • A percentage of the funds from purchasing this tag / hunt will go back into our game management program.
  • additional management stag included as part of this tag, purchaser may wish to take this stag and contribute to our game management program (our principle being we are removing at least one poorer stag from the herd for every trophy stag we take), or gift this opportunity to their assistant guide, hunters have gifted opportunities on management stags to their assistant guides in previous seasons, a nice way of saying thank you.
  • Hunter’s name recorded and displayed on our honor’s board in our lodge, acknowledging their contribution to game management and our unique, wild Otago herd.
  • Measurements of first-class trophies taken on the hunt also recorded on our honor’s board and in our record books in the Governor’s Tag section.

Tags and licences in the Otago red deer herd

The Otago Acclimitisation Society first opened up their tag and licence system in 1889, when the Morven Hills liberation of 1871 had grown into a sustainable hunting resource. It’s unclear how many stags the initial licenses (with cloth tags) allowed the hunter to take, but in the following years as the herd grew a 4-stag license was granted, sportsmen endeavored to ‘fill their licence’ by taking 4 trophy Otago Red stags.

In the halcyon days of the early 1900’s many hunters did fill out their licenses, nowadays with the society gone, game management gone from public land and tags and licences also gone, someone needs to show leadership, that someone is Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris.

With our private, free-range area and our own management plan for a sustainable herd of Otago red deer we are now re-creating history. First by offering an exceptional hunt for a unique, traditional, Otago red stag, secondly by introducing a tag system (since 2020 season) limiting the number of first-class stags taken each year to 10 stags, ensuring we have a consistent number of quality, mature stags, within our hunting area. This is a ground breaking concept in terms of game management in New Zealand, it sounds simple, but there is currently nothing else like it.

The Governor’s Tag may not be offered every season.

The Governor’s Tag for 2026 will be offered via a silent auction.

Please complete the form below with your bid (for the 2025 tag). If the reserve is not met Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris may negotiate with the highest bidder.

Standard 5 day hunt for a first-class Otago red stag hunt is $25000 USD. We anticipate the winning bid will be 3-4 times this figure.

Buy the governor’s tag outright now and make it yours, email or phone Chris for further info: | phone: +64 27 3490393.

Or place your bid below

Bidding is in USD