Poached stag: nice antlers, poor eating
A 14-point wapiti-cross stag living on a farm near Owaka, which dozens of tourists have taken photos of over the years, has been shot dead in its paddock, gutted, and taken away by poachers.
Senior Constable Murray Hewitson, of Owaka, said the poachers shot the stag between about 8pm on Saturday and 2am on Sunday in a farmer's paddock beside the Papatowai Highway, near Puketiro Rd.
The poachers opened a gate and went into the paddock and took the carcass and head away, leaving the guts in the paddock, Mr Hewitson said.
"Plenty of tourists have stopped and taken photos of that stag over the years; it's been there about seven years," he said.
He believed it would have taken more than one person to lift the carcass onto a vehicle.
Mr Hewitson questioned if there were any hunting competitions in the south during the weekend, saying it was possible the stag was shot for its head.
It's 14-point antlers were "reasonably even" and it was considered a good head.
But the meat would not have been good eating on a stag of that age, he said.
"If you were going to shoot a deer to eat you wouldn't shoot a stag that old."
Mr Hewitson said he was unsure how much the breeding stag was worth, but said the farmer had paid $1000 for it six years ago.
The Southland Times