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See staggering numbers of Javan Rusa during the peak roar in what might be one of the worlds all-time best free-range deer hunts, set in beautiful French Melanesia along the coast of the Coral Sea.
5 professionally guided 2×1 hunting days
Mid-July to early September
Wild, Free-ranging & Introduced
In an isolated corner of the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by a world-class barrier reef, lies the geologically ancient and mysterious island of New Caledonia. A French territory in the sub-tropical Melanesian region, the island makes you question why you live where you do. It’s beautiful and boasts a thriving population of Javan Rusa stags. Several dozen Rusa deer were introduced to the island in the late 1800s as a gift from the King of Java to France and exploded into a population that once exceeded half a million animals. Having heaving browsed the islands endemic Guava forests, Rusa like any species needs to be managed, and New Caledonia is very proud of its thriving Rusa resource. Islandwide initiatives aimed at both sustainability and maximum trophy potential have been occurring on a national effort have proved very successful. Forest and pasture enhancements are clearly visible, and stags with beam length in the 32+ inch range, and much larger, are now again quite plentiful again.
Seeing several hundred to over a thousand rutting Rusa per day of hunting is not uncommon! There is no limit and most hunters take 2 or more stags, and often a bonus South Pacific Wild Turkey is thrown into the mix. If that’s not enough, the weather is almost always lovely, the blend of Melanesian & French/European food and culture is wonderful, and adventures along the reef are arguably some of the best on earth. Before or after the hunt however it is encouraged to take advantage of the various island adventures. Side venture fishing, scuba, and reef charters are available, the new 5Star Sheraton Resort is less than an hour from the hunting area, and a couple of days in the vibrant capital city of Noumea doesn’t disappoint. Tour guides and day trips can all be arranged.
This is a long-range hunters dream come true. While personal rifles can be brought into the country without too much difficulty, quality rifles are provided at no cost. To bring your own rifle, try avoiding connections in Australia if traveling internationally, and required in New Caledonia would be a home state or country firearms license as well as a letter from the local ranch property owner, which can be prepared for specific hunter wishing to bring their own firearm. Same with trophies. Rusa populations are healthy, disease-free and not CITES classified thus fully exportable and importable into most counties hassle-free with a simple import permit. Hunters fly home with their trophies as checked baggage and can avoid expensive shipping and expediting costs. Antler caps are boiled, treated and cleaned, and capes are dry salted in camp and then packaged for the flight home. Veterinary Certificates and Certificates of Origin are secured at the airport after a quick simply inspection right before checking in. It’s that simple. Tourism incentive travel offers are also in place to offer hunters the cheapest possible airfare. While travel may be far for some, this special destination is more than makes up for it!
Typical Day & Tactics
Meet your guide or outfitter at the La Tontouta Airport situated about an hour from Noumea. Grab any last provisions in town and drive the 2 hours north to the various hunting areas scattered along the island’s western coast. Arrive at the lodge, which is either a series of outbuildings on a working ranch homestead or a secluded and luxurious series of villas with catered meals. Enjoy a nice dinner and settle in for the evening. Most hunters hear the Rusa roaring as they exit the vehicle at the first hunting spot of the day. Set up in an overlook at dawn, glassing and judging the various stags in a particular valley. Coastal coulees and mangroves forests boast higher deer densities, but some of the largest stags tend to come from less densely populated hunting areas in foothill-type environments.
Hunt until midmorning and head back to the ranch for a quick nap and some lunch, and head back out until dusk, glassing, judging, spotting, and stalking various Rusa stags. The guides are critically looking for old, heavy stags with mid 32+ inch beams, long tines, and no antler damage. Typical shots occur in the prone off a bipod at ranges between 150-300 yards. Sometimes there are too many deer to get close and move in on a specific stag – a perfect scenario for avid long-distance shooters. Hunters bringing their personal custom or long-range rifles can target nearly any stag observed. Rusa trophies will have antler caps boiled, cleaned, and treated. Capes are meticulously worked over and dry salted in compliance with the necessary airlines and import requirements allowing hunters to fly home with their Rusa as checked luggage. It’s a lot of work processing stags to the level needed to avoid costly shipping charges, but with no taxidermist on the island, there is really no other choice.
Once done with Rusa, opportunities to hunt South Pacific Wild Turkeys can be made possible. If wishing to depart hunt camp early, other tourism options can be arranged including beachside resorts, trips into town or fishing, snorkeling, or spearfishing. Hunters are encouraged to bring any dive gear if wishing to enter the water. In all honesty, the reef is breathtaking and a huge attraction for the region, nearly worth the trip alone. It is encouraged to consider some vacationing on the island before or after the Rusa hunting component to experience it. A perfect trip for non-hunting observers!
Landscape & Climate
New Caledonia is a semi-tropical island territory in French Melanesia, about 400 miles long and 40 miles wide, surrounded by the world’s second-largest barrier reef, which in turn forms the world’s largest lagoon. Truly a unique little corner of the world, complete with an array of natural splendors, many of which are deemed UNESCO world heritage sites. The island is actually an ancient and extremely isolated piece of continental crust versus a more recent volcanically formed island like most other islands in the South Pacific. A spine of mountains runs its length and the eastern slopes catch much of the prevailing rain forming a lush rainforest. The western coast, however, is a rain shadow with a more arid, savannah-grassland-type habitat, complete with steep ravines and brushy coulees. It is here we do the bulk of our Rusa hunting. Rivers bordered by dense mangrove forests provide excellent travel corridors connecting the mountain slopes all the way to the coastal estuaries, all of which are patrolled by herds of Rusa deer.
Being so isolated, the island is missing many prominent species. No Crocodiles, and essentially absent of venomous snakes or harmful spiders. Rusa and Flying Foxes are the island’s most numerous mammals, followed by the various feral pigs, goats, dogs, and cats. A unique array of endemic bird species call it home, many of which can be seen nowhere else in the world, the most famous being the flightless Cagou, or Kagu, which is a national symbol, similar to the Kiwi in New Zealand. Most unique however are the island’s endemic geckos. The gentle New Caledonian Giant Crested Day Gecko ranks as the world’s largest Gecko species and can only be found here. The barrier reef, however, is a whole other world, with a dazzling amount of life and color that needs to be experienced firsthand to be fully appreciated. Literally, thousands of species coexist in of the most competitive and life-rich ecosystems on earth.
The Rusa roar spans from mid-July into early September which is the heart of winter in the southern hemisphere. This time of year the weather is almost always quite nice. Occasional light rain, or windy in the afternoons, but overall mostly sunny and warm. T-shirt weather most of the midday, shorts or pants while hunting, and a light sweater morning and evenings, but always flip flops around camp!
Meals & Accommodations
Stay in one-two types of lodgings, depending on the hunting area that week. Options such as outbuildings on working ranch homesteads directly in the hunting area, or lovely private villas in the foothills with jacuzzies and sun porches. Before or after the hunt, clients can also choose to stay at the luxurious 5Star beachside resort with all the comforts and an array of activities ranging from golf to glass-bottom boat tours on the reef. Accommodations are located in secluded rural settings, either in the foothills, the coastal plains, or on the beach. In most cases, they offer privacy with personal bedrooms and bathrooms, wifi, a swimming pool, common lounge areas, and catered meals.
The food here is wonderful. It’s comprised of a unique blend of French and western European gourmet culinary influence but infused with tantalizing local South Pacific ingredients. Delicacies like fresh tuna, prawns, shellfish, coconuts, guavas, or passionfruit are not in short supply. While hunting, breakfasts are light and quick. Toast, coffee, cereal, juice, a croissant or pastry, and so on. Lunches are either back at the ranch or in the field. Freshly made french bread, dry sausages or ham, various pate, nice cheeses, fruit, and bottled water are typical. For dinner enjoy items like grilled lamb, pork and beef cutlets, Rusa steaks, fried reef fish, or various local seafood, served with comfort foods like rice, salads, French bread, cold cuts, and cheeses followed by a fruity local desert.
Key Equipment Suggestions
This hunt only requires basic equipment. A day pack, 10x binoculars, rangefinder, comfortable walking boots, rain gear or light sweater, headlamp or flashlight, skinning or deboning knife, some latex gloves, European double adaptor, polarized sunglasses, and a digital camera covers the essentials. A spotting scope & tripod, snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel, flippers, 3-5mm shorty wetsuit, reef shoes, and gloves) are recommended if you wish to get the most out of your hunt and enjoy the reef. To assist getting your trophy home easily it is encouraged hunters bring the following items; old pillowcases for capes, a length of old garden hose for antler tips, a sheet or small roll of bubble wrap for skulls, and a roll of packing tape or duck tape. This ensures hunters have everything to safely transport and successfully meet all airlines or biosecurity restrictions post-inspection at the airport when departing. Hunter orange is not required.
Trophy Rut Hunts: 5 full days – 2×1 guided – x1 Javan Rusa – July – September = $6750
Round trip airport pick-up and drop-off services
Bilingual English/French-speaking outfitter overseeing the hunt
All meals and accommodations during the hunt
All permits, licenses, and trophy fees for x1 Javan Rusa Stag with no size restrictions
2×1 professional guiding
Rifle rental for the duration of the hunt & ammunition
All ground transportation while hunting
Extensive trophy skull & hide preparations & packaging for export and taxidermy
Assistance with Firearms import, Origin and Veterinary Certificates at the airport
Travel to La Tontouta Intl Airport near Noumea, New Caledonia
Any pre and post-hunt meals or accommodations
Trophy fees for any additional game animals harvested
Gratuities to guides and staff
Taxidermy and trophy export as additional checked luggage
Personal island side ventures, vacationing or tourism
Alcohol, and purchases of a personal nature, souvenirs etc.
Extra hunting days: $500/day (if possible)
Non-hunting observer days: $350/day
Trophy fees for additional game species;
Javan Rusa Stag (no limit or size restrictions) = $2750
South Pacific Turkey = $450
Reef, Lagoon or Inshore fishing, Spearfishing day charter = $700 (per charter/split by max 4 people)
Outer Reef, Offshore, Shark Fishing day charter = $1200 (per charter/split by max 4 people)
Hunters are asked to arrive at the La Tontouta International Airport north of Noumea, New Caledonia, where they will be greeted by the outfitter or guides. The various hunting areas are located between 2 hours’ drive north of Noumea.
Noumea is reached via Australia or New Zealand, with Sydney, Melbourne, and Auckland respectively offering some of the best connection options. For North Americans, some very competitively priced flights currently exist from LAX to Noumea via Auckland using Air New Zealand and Aircalin airlines. Air Canada through Vancouver is a good connection for Canadians.
Round trip airport shuttles between the hunting areas are available and already included with every package
Passport required for all international travel. Travel Visas however are NOT required.
Dale – New Caledonia Javan Rusa Stag
I recently had the opportunity to hunt with Adrian Skok for Javan Rusa Stags on the French Territorial Island of New Caledonia. Although I had spoken with Adrian throughout the booking process about the Islands thriving deer population, I did not fully comprehend the sheer quantity of deer that we would see! Rusa numbers literally in the thousands each day, and multiple shooter quality stags spotted each time we went out. Upon identifying what looked like a quality stag, Adrian would methodically asses the animal, included me in his evaluation, and we would determine the animal’s merits. Adrian would make recommendations based on what I was looking for, no just something he thought should be taken. After looking at scores of stags, Adrian’s attention to detail presented me with the opportunities to connect with two beautiful old Rusa stags. After the deer hunting component was complete, hunting some New Caledonian Rio Grande Wild Turkeys was just the icing on the cake.
What a South Pacific adventure it was! The hunt exceeded all my expectations. Adrian went above and beyond both in the field as my guide, but also before the hunt during the booking and Q&A process. The accommodations are a perfect getaway for couples, and once the hunting itself is done, there are many other unique opportunities on the island available to extend this remote hunting vacation type destination. We feel we have truly made a lifelong friend with Adrian and look forward to planning more exciting adventures together soon. If you want a top quality Rusa stag hunting experience, let Adrian take care of you the way he did for us. You will not be disappointed in this lifetime experience. Adrian was second to none. Thank you!