Callum's Fare Game

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 14/01/2014
Southland Times photo
BARRY HARCOURT/Fairfax NZ
Professional hunter Callum Hughes emerges from beech forest with a red deer hind. Mr Hughes is the owner of Invercargill wild game suppliers, Fare Game.

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@devlincolle: In May 2006, keen hunter Callum Hughes gave up his police job to follow a dream and start hunting business Fare Game.

The father of two hunts in Central Otago for wild goat, wild pork and rabbits and regularly heli-hunts in the Fiordland mountains for deer.

He also hunts nuisance deer wandering on to farm paddocks - a popular service for which he is making more time.

"I am getting a lot of requests from farmers to shoot wandering deer to keep them away from crops and I am eager to do more."

Heli hunting in Fiordland was a skilled task and was challenging.

"Once you shoot, you jump out and the hard work begins," he said.

It was a challenge to set up Fare Game because he had no business experience and knew nothing about the meat industry.

"I just liked hunting and loved to eat wild produce, so I had a crack at it and hoped like hell it worked."

Despite not rolling in riches, Mr Hughes has not looked back and plans to expand his Invercargill-based business, which supplies wild game products to luxury lodges, top restaurants, delicatessen dealers, butchers, chefs, wholesalers and private customers throughout the country.

He started out with only a few clients and the business has grown from there.

At first, he was processing seven deer a week, but now in a busy week it could be anything up to 80 deer.

The business was doing well and gradually growing but he was not rolling in cash, he said. "I enjoy hunting, so I make some concessions . . . I am in this for a living and lifestyle, not to get rich."

The business had grown to the point where he contracted hunters to supply rabbit and hare from Southland.

The demand was so great he needed more contractors from the region.

However, the demand had not come from Southlanders, who preferred the traditional staple of beef and lamb.

About 90 per cent of his produce was sold outside the region.

Auckland, Northland, Wellington, Tauranga, Napier and Nelson were a few of the cities where his produce was sold.

It helped to put Southland on the map, which sometimes led to a snowball effect, with other Southland businesses being contacted by the buyer for other products.

Mr Hughes' premises in Invercargill had a mini freezing works, where the animals were processed, some times only a few hours after the kill.

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It was the freshness and the wild flavour that set his products apart from other wild game.

He would like to get out of the office to hunt more, so as the business grew, he planned to step back from the day-to-day running of it.

In the meantime, he was working on a few other projects, including Wild About Pets, a pet food side of his business. The pure wild meat was downgraded for pets and sold directly to the public from his premises.

 

- Southland

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