Sika Deer (Cervus nippon)
Sika deer are native to Eastern Asia. They were once a sacred animal in Japan. They were introduced in the 1900s to other areas of the world, including the United States in 1920. Sika deer were originally introduced as ornamental game but have established themselves in some forests of Eastern Europe & North America.
Figure 1 “Photo” Sika Deer in nature – Sika deer are a very prized and elusive species to hunt; they are mainly nocturnal but can move during the day. They can be hunted in a few places, including New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and a few states in America.
There are many subspecies of Sika deer. Size, colorations, habitat and behavior all depend on their location. Size can range from 13kg-70kg. Sikas are also one of the most vocal members of the deer family with at least five distinct calls. During the fall and early winter breeding season, stags can be heard bugling, which sounds like a multi-pitched, extended wail. Hinds use soft bleats and whistles to communicate with other females and offspring, and their alarm call is a short, high-pitched bark.
Nature Status: Depending on the location, Sika deer can be considered an endangered or threatened species. While in other locations, there is a viable hunting population.
Natural Predators: Humans, tigers, and wolves (depending on location)
Future: On the brink of extinction in many parts of the world, conservation efforts are in effect to save those populations and to keep all populations thriving.
Figure 2 “Photo” Ken Starke with his 6 point Sika (3×3) that he harvested in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (Delaware, USA).
Preferred Gauge: 10, 12, or 20 Gauge using buckshot or slugs. Muzzleloaders are also used (Delaware, USA specific gun usage).
Archery: Challenging for some hunters but can be very rewarding if successful, due to the difficulty in hunting a Sika deer.
Notes: Sika deer move primarily at night but during the rut they move a lot during the day. Hunters should hunt early mornings or late afternoons for the best opportunity to harvest a Sika deer. Sika deer are very alert and can detect small movements, so little movement should be made in the stand.
Method: Sit and wait methods are the most successful methods for harvesting a Sika deer, the higher up a tree a hunter can get the better. Stalking is a difficult method but can be successful during the rut period.