Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Dedication rewarded

Years dedicated to breeding trophy stags for the hunting industry brought reward to Malcolm and Kathy Cane this year when their stag achieved top price. The couple have been deer farming at Reporoa for 25 years. In the past 15 years, breeding trophy stags has been at the core of their business. They have invested in good genetics and breeding programmes in order to be in a position to supply a good number of top trophy stags to the hunting industry. Three years ago Malcolm felt his herd was producing consistently enough to enter the sire stag circuit. This year their stag achieved top price in the New Zealand stud sale circuit, selling at $62,000. Other stags bred by the Canes were also awarded second and fourth place in the National Rising Stars three-year hard antler competition.

Kathy said it had taken time to build a reputation to attract such prices, but this year saw double the buyers attend their sale and there was a strong demand.

“It has been a long slow road and it is good to finally see the decisions we have made over the years beginning to pay off.”

Playing with genetics was somewhat of a gamble, she said. They had had several good stags over the years, but one of the best decisions they made in their bid to improve trophy genetics was to buy Odysseus from Shane Quinn, of Alpine Hunting, as a six-year old.

They considered him to have everything the market requires in a trophy stag and have used him over a good number of their hinds each year.

“He’s really lifted the standard,” Malcolm said.

Odysseus was taken as a trophy this year.

“That was a bit of a sad day, but he has a huge legacy left on the farm.”

When breeding for trophy stags Malcolm and Kathy strive for attractive antlers that are wide and with long points in the tops.

“Hunters are getting more demanding and a lot more educated so we need to keep on top of our game.”

Malcolm said that any stag that took out the No 1 spot was likely to be worth in the vicinity of $100,000 or more, so as a breeder everyone strived for that.

“The state of the current economy in the USA hasn’t helped the deer hunting industry, but it is bouncing back and there are still some people out there willing to spend good money on a top stag.”

On the farm

Broadview Hunting estate in the Paeroa mountain range is a new adventure for the Canes.

Although trophy stags have been the main focus, the Canes have always diversified to even out the volatility of the deer industry.

They trade in velvet and deer velvet capsules and, among many other things, have wintered cows and reared calves in the past to make ends meet.

The couple are now on the verge of a new adventure. In partnership with a long time friend, they own a 400ha estate in the Paeroa mountain range at Reporoa in the North Island. Until recently it was a forestry block but it has now been milled and is regenerating to native bush.

The area is bordered by established native bush and both partners have always felt it was a special place that would make a great hunting block. After many years of thinking about it they have decided to make the natural progression to selling some of their own trophy hunts, and work is well under way to convert the area to a hunting block with fencing, huts and clearings being planted.

They are under no illusion about what it will take, but feel lucky to have employed Barry Hogg, who has extensive experience as an independent outfitter.

The team will open the gates to Broadview Hunting this season, but aim to keep the business to a manageable size, which will mean they can continue to supply top stags to their buyers.

“We sell most of our current trophy stags to Gary Herbert hunting, and this is an important part of our farming business which we value a great deal,” Malcolm said. “Our own venture will not impact on that.”

Malcolm travelled with Barry to America in January to pursue contracts and has the first group of hunters coming later this year.

Broadview Hunting will host the North Island species, including Rusa, Sambar and Sika along with their Red stags, and will look to work in with South Island hunting companies when attracting clients to New Zealand.

“It’s a new challenge and will take time to develop, but it’s exciting. We have a great team and we are all really looking forward to it.”

Capsules sold online 

About a third of the farm’s velvet goes into Canes Deer Velvet Capsules.

They sell most of the capsules online via their website, with half of it going offshore, mostly to the US.

Kathy has a nursing background and is particularly interested in the science of how deer velvet works to bring improvements in the body.

“It would have a lot more potential if I were to spend more time on marketing,” she said.

Between all her other commitments she works on this part of the business only part time.

“We know it is good stuff. People that take it tend to love it and stay with it long-term.” 

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