Deer Cullers

In 1930 the Department of Internal Affairs took over the management of deer where they employed teams of deer cullers.

This ushered in the era of the professional hunter. Small groups of men lived in tent camps or built rough huts much like the Kokatahi Bivouac in isolated parts of the country. They were paid wages, with a bonus for each skin. You had to be tough, it was extremely hard work, days were long, hills were climbed and conditions were often horrendous.

From the 1960s, helicopters were used to recover deer carcasses. It didn’t take long before they realised helicopters could be used for shooting out of, especially in open alpine areas. Government culling and commercial hunting dramatically reduced deer populations especially in the South Island, where it is estimated they fell to 5–15% of their numbers in the 1930s.