2024 Season Report Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris New Zealand

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2024 Season Report Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris New Zealand


Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris 2024 season.
Scroll down for season highlights and informative info about New Zealand’s ultimate hunting experience – all pictures from our 2024 season.

Exceptional free range Otago red stags…
For more info click here
Huge heavy timbered estate red stags…
For more info click here
Mountain hunting for tahr and chamois…
For more info click here

Big Fallow Bucks…
For more info click here

Combination hunts and group hunts…
For more info click here

A professional and dedicated team…

New Zealand with Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris…private hunting leases, private game estates and untamed wilderness

Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris 2024 season report

January and February saw Bronwyn and myself travelling around the USA to three hunting conventions, Dallas Safari Club, Safari Club International and the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo (we will be back at these conventions in 2025) and visiting with friends (calling our friends hunting clients doesn’t seem right). Thank you very much to all our friends who showed us such amazing hospitality along the way.

The conventions were all busy, some more of a success than others but really the fun that we had in the evenings and between shows  with great people is what its all about.

There were so many highlights  including going to a Jason Aldean concert, staying on our friends cattle ranch in New Mexico and observing the heifers beginning to calve. Driving through New Mexico and Colorado in freezing blizzard conditions, eating frog legs in the south, driving a snow groomer, driving a sleigh behind a team of Clydesdales and feeling the power of those horses. Experiencing frozen window washer jets and not being able to see out the windshield resulting in missing a major turn off for Steamboat Springs and spending a wasted  hour on the highway to Denver before being able to turn around (amazing they didn’t thaw out from the temperature rising inside the SUV between driver and navigator)…

A team of helpers and friends, celebrate at our Booth at Safari Club International in Nashville, we’d had our most successful day at a show ever!! 
My first book which I’m very proud of, my story of introducing international hunters to free range Otago red stag hunting in New Zealand.
Click text to buy this highly acclaimed book.
Since 2022 I have been working on a major project, my first book which I co-authored with Gary Innis. This was a massive undertaking, designer Daniel Burke sent 500 copies and through no fault of his they arrived in late March during the red stag roar which caused a few logistical issues! I’m very proud of this publication which includes 120,000 words and 470 images. In my opinion anyone can throw a few pictures up on social media sites or create a reel to watch, all very instant and with little effort. To publish a comprehensive book and put your name to it proudly is quite something else. Sales are going well, approaching the 250 mark, you can purchase a copy here on my website.
Click text Otago Red Stags Book.
A royal 12-point Otago red stag with great spread and span, early in the roar.
Our season got away to a roaring start, with guides Ben Alai and Russell Buteau back and three new assistant guides, Ryan Taylor, Aaron Laverty and Cade Saalmann. The first task was a couple of team building exercises including a few days farm fencing kiwi style which was a new experience for most, many of the guide team were then able to get away for a tahr hunt for themselves with Russell acting as their guide before our hunters began to arrive. All of the assistant guides had shot tahr and management red stag trophies by seasons end, with Russell shooting a nice trophy 14-pointer after two seasons of brilliant work for LHHS.
Ryan (left) and Russell, with Ryan’s big old bull tahr, note the early season March cape on the bull.
Cade with his wilderness bull tahr taken in May with full winter cape.
Aaron with his free range management stag, our basic principle of stag management being to take out at least one poorer stag for every trophy stag shot.

Team Culture

This is a big feature of our operation, we work very much as a team to achieve the very best for our hunters (and non hunters). The guide team has to keep delivering week after week, month after month this means we need to support each other. There are no hero’s in this camp we work as one, our hunters pick up on this and without fail after every hunt this season the guide team received accolades and praise from our clients.

Disbanding at the end of the season is always tough after living and working so closely together. The 2024 guide team had everything, made up of five different nationalities, some big personalities (one members leaving speech went for nearly 12 minutes!), some amazing talent, lots of fun and a top work ethic.

I have copied point seven from our guide brief below:

7. Understand the importance of being part of a team. Your groups hunt may be finished, other hunt groups may need help, help may be needed in the kitchen, quarters or lodge. Show initiative look for jobs to do, always take opportunities to improve your skills. Egos are for pretenders and losers.

Thank you Ben, Russell, Ryan, Aaron, Cade, Bronwyn and Jess for creating  exceptional experiences and long lasting memories for our clients this season.

Hunter Rich Snyder (left) with Ryan, Russell, Ben and dog Cook, Aaron and Cade at a tent camp in free range Otago red stag country.

Free range Otago red stag season

How do you describe hunting free range Otago red stags on exclusive private property where we practice game management… in short, very loud, a lot of roaring, a lot of action and it may be a cliché, but an experience that has to be seen to be believed. The hunts this season ran at 100% success with many hunters shooting a second stag and one in particular a bag of four stags.

Below are some of our 2024 free range Otago red stag trophies, stags are judged in the field into three different classes.

  • First-class
  • NQF
  • Second-class

more info on these incredible hunts for a traditional eye pleasing trophy at this link on my website.

click link free range Otago red stag hunting

Some of this seasons first-class Otago red stag trophies. The first 6 original red deer calves liberated in 1871 were the founding gene pool of these 2024 pictured trophies and were liberated about the same time this stone building was built. 
First-class trophies
Phil with a ripper of a stag 40 3/8 x 35 x 5 3/8, DS 328.
Stacey with guide Ben and his magnificent stag 37 x 39 x 5 4/8, DS 312.
Andrew (second from left) holds his 16-point trophy (36 x 38 x 5 7/8, DS 302 3/8ths) as the whole guide team join him for a photograph. 
Stacey and Kristina with Stacey’s second stag, the longest of the season 43 5/8 x 36 2/8 x 5 3/8, DS 302 7/8ths..Stacey and I hunted Fannin Ram in BC together, back in 2018.
Good looking first-class stag trophy 40 2/8 x 38 7/8 x 4 7/8, DS 303 7/8ths with supreme red deer habitat behind.
NQF and Second-class trophies
Cade and Russell with clients heavy 12-point stag judged an NQF (Not Quite First-Class) 38 6/8 long, DS 298.
Aaron (left) Russell (right) with hunters Gabe and Peter and Peter’s 40 inch NQF stag.
Ty with his 12-point second-class stag. Ty shot a beauty first-class stag then hunted this good looking second class trophy.
The team from left: Russell, Cade, Ryan, Aaron, Ben and Chris at the end of the free-range Otago red stag season with 15 trophies in total. Russell holds his own personal 14-point trophy.
Back at the lodge from left: Russell, Ryan, Cade and Ben pose for our annual ‘stags on the fence photograph’ a tradition started back in 2012, you will find many of these photographs in my book.

Governor’s Tag 2025

A special opportunity to hunt a very special Otago stag. 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. Click here Governor’s Tag more information

Email Chris if you are interested in this hunt for 2025, pictured is an 18 point free range Otago stag which has  been observed for many seasons and field judged to be around 350 DS. chris@hawea-hunting.co.nz

Tahr and Chamois

We’re all very keen alpine hunters at Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris, all of our guides have worked in North America guiding Sheep and Mtn Goat hunts. Ben and Ethan (Ethan was with us for the 2023 season an is back next season) are there right now guiding hunters.

Tahr and chamois can be hunted a number of different ways including on private property or wilderenss concession with helicopter access.

Most of our tahr hunts this season were on private property, Ben did guide the one wilderness hunt which was successful for his two hunters taking a bull each. We took ten bull tahr trophies in total and just the two chamois this season.

The team with Joel and his cracking 13 inch + bull tahr.
Rich and Ben with Rich’s big bull taken just before dark on last light in windy conditions, we were off the mountain rather late that night.
Adam with a ripper of a chamois buck over the magic 10 inch mark in horn length.

350 – 700 + Estate Red Stags

A lot of fun was had hunting big estate red stags this season. This year and years previous we’ve had access to a number of hunting estates close to our lodge and taken many good trophies in the 350 – 450 SCI range. Next season we will have hunting available for even larger stags, we’re looking forward to implementing this and being able to offer these opportunities to our hunters.
Brendan with his great looking 390 SCI red stag.
Two estate red stags both field judged at over 400 SCI.

Fallow and Elk

Adam with is fallow buck displaying a ‘sharks tooth’ on the inside of the bucks right palm.
The team with Joel and his 340 SCI bull elk. More info on elk hunting click here.

Not for profit roles

On the 25th of October 2023 I had the honour of being elected as President of the New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Assn (NZPHGA).

I’ve been a member of the Executive team since 2011 (very much a junior member at the time), to be elected as President 12 years later was a real thrill.

This is a huge voluntary role which takes up around 20hrs a week of my time over the off season. A big commitment to manage along with four daughters and an outfitting business, (I’m not for one moment stating I’m any good at managing my daughters). However I went in with my eyes wide open and hope to do a full three year term. Recent engagements have been varied and busy including meeting with New Zealand’s inaugural Minister of Hunting and Fishing Hon Todd McClay. Also meeting with Department of Conservation on various issues and other hunting stakeholder groups. This month the NZPHGA is busy hosting a guide / outfitter liaison rep from Safari Club International.

I also continue to donate time helping with the NZPHGA’s 7 day Professional Hunter Training Program for new members. New Zealand’s only recognised training for hunting guides.

I’m very well supported by the current Executive team which includes three Past Presidents.

Donating game meat

Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris also continues to donate prime venison game meat to local charity Food For Love as part of managing our wild red deer herd.

Chris with the inaugural Minister of Hunting and Fishing Hon Todd McClay.
Lucy (left) and Gretchen McCarthy playing dress up
I wonder who they are taking the mickey out of…

If you’ve already hunted New Zealand … how about coming back and hunting free-range with Lake Hawea hunting Safaris.

If you’ve never been, if New Zealand is a dream hunt or bucket list hunt, we just might be your answer.

We will be promoting our outstanding free range combo hunt at the Jan / Feb hunting conventions (Red stag – Tahr – Fallow and Chamois). Decades ago this would have been a 21 day hunt, now,  with game management in our private hunting area’s we can achieve this in 10 days. Hunters can opt to include a hunt for a first-class or second-class red stag.

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