Trophy stag shot on private land

A man who illegally shot a 14-point trophy stag explained to police he got "buck fever" when he spotted the animal from the road.

Wayne Daryl Todd (54) appeared in the Dunedin District Court this week after pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful hunting.

On January 10, the defendant finished work early and drove to Loganburn Reservoir, for a spot of fishing.

He was only there an hour when the weather turned and he decided to drive home.

On the way, however, Todd said he stopped to use the relieve himself when he noticed two red stags on Rocklands Station, which borders Old Dunstan Rd.

The 22,000ha high-country sheep station 25km from Middlemarch is private land, court documents noted, and recreational hunting was allowed only with the permission of the owners.

Despite knowing that, Todd grabbed his rifle and ventured on to the property.

Counsel Andrew More could not explain what happened next other than by putting it down to "a rush of blood to the head".

Todd shot the animal 1.5km within the station and wasted no time removing the trophy.

The defendant caped the deer — removing its head and hide — as well as taking the back steaks.

He left the carcass where it fell and it was found by shepherds weeks later.

The day after the shooting, the court heard, Todd took the head to a local taxidermist for mounting as a trophy.

Police tracked him down six weeks later.

"He stated in explanation that he had no intention of going unlawfully hunting, but when he saw the once-in-a-lifetime stag he got ‘buck fever’," a summary read.

Mr More said his client had held a firearms licence since he was a teenager, had no previous convictions and was "absolutely gutted" to be in the dock.

Manager of Rocklands Station Matthew Middlemass said it was not the loss of the stag that caused him concern.

"We’ve got guys working for us all 18-21. I don’t want to have to tell their parents they’ve been shot by some idiot," he said.

He questioned Todd’s remorse, seeing as he took the trophy to be mounted so shortly after the killing.

"He only feels bad because he got caught," Mr Middlemass said.

The judge questioned the impulsivity of the act, noting the defendant was an experienced hunter who would have known the rules.

While Mr More suggested a financial penalty was the appropriate outcome, Judge Crosbie said deterrence was key.

Todd was sentenced to 150 hours’ community work and ordered to pay the victim $1000.





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