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Sambar Deer

Cervus unicolor unicolor

Male: Stag
Female: Hind
Young: Fawn or Calf
Pic 2014 SA Tony Burt Bay of Plenty Tussock Spiker 2nd place

In New Zealand, sambar deer are considered an iconic herd. They are only in the North Island and mostly found on private land.


Sambar are big animals. Stags average 1.4m shoulder height and 245kg in weight, with hinds smaller at 1.1m and up to 157kg.


Uniform, darkening to almost black in older animals, with tan to rusty red on the rump. Underparts are grey to mid-brown.


Only stags grow antlers which are relatively short, heavily pearled and normally with three tines (brow, trez, and terminal). Antlers are grown from January to March, hardening between June and November and cast in November/December.

Rifle and calibre

Suitable calibres include .270, 7mm-08, 30’06, .308 and .303. A calibre and cartridge with high striking energy is recommended as sambar deer have been known to absorb several shots and still escape.

Record Trophy

284 4/8 Douglas Score taken by R.G. Hill at Manawatu circa 1924.

Record Book Qualification

200 Douglas Score