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Killing of trophy stag case begins

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Three hunters are in court accused of poaching a $1100 trophy stag from a Masterton game reserve.

The 24-point, 350-pound beast belonged to Mountain Hunters New Zealand, which is owned by Adrian Moody and Brent Moody.

It was shot and taken by Anthony James Fraser, 30, his brother Travis Fraser, 28, and friend Shayne Parry, 40.

The three have been jointly charge with theft of an animal over $1000 on April 2, last year.

But which side of the fence the beast was killed on is the crux of the case before the court.

The police prosecution contends it was poached off the reserve, but the defence contends that it was shot on the sheep and beef farm of Michael Taylor, where the three had been given permission to hunt.

A portion of fence, a series of photographs and two massive sets of antlers were shown in the Masterton District Court on November 27 as evidence.

Adrian Moody is a trained safari club international scorer who had “scored hundreds of heads.”

Each deer has a unique set of antlers – two animals could have the same score, but for definitive identification photographs were taken, he said.

He was shown a Facebook page which had photographs of a slain prized stag.

“I viewed the Facebook page and immediately was able to recognise the deer head being carried by two male persons as being the deer that I had scored in January 2016.”

He inspected the fence line on April 4, 2016, and was drawn to an area where the battens had moved along the horizontal fence wires and where the grass was flattened.

“It was dramatically different to the surroundings.”

Mr Moody said the fence was in good condition and had not suffered a major impact.

One vertical stay was broken and the bottom had been lifted but the crimps in the horizontal wires, designed to absorb some of the blow of a major impact, were intact, he said.

He believed the damage and trampled ground was the work of the three men.

There was blood under and on his side of the fence which he believed belonged to the deer, he said.

“I do not believe even three strong guys could carry a big stag ungutted for any distance.

“It could be dragged.”

Mr Moody was cross-examined by defence lawyer Kevin Smith, on behalf of Parry, and defence lawyer Fionnuala Kelly, on behalf of Travis Fraser. Anthony Fraser is representing himself.

The defence contended that it was possible the deer had lawfully been shot on the property of Mr Taylor, and had fallen against the fence in its dying moments.

There would have been more blood on the site if the deer was slain on the reserve.

They also contended it was possible the damage had been created by fighting stags during the roar or stags looking for hinds.

Mr Moody said there were no hinds on the property of Mr Taylor.

“If they did, they would be going in the wrong direction.”

Ms Kelly suggested to Mr Moody it was possible the beast had leapt the fence.

Mr Moody said it was important to note he had never known his stags to jump the six foot fence, due to their size.

They had only ever escaped in the past due to a breakage in the fence or an open gate.

Mr Moody said the fence was always inspected after a strong wind, but otherwise on a roughly monthly basis.

The hearing was set to continue before Judge Barbara Morris on November 28.


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