Red Stag Taken In Carroll County

Mike Bolton | December 14, 2023

Richie Williams with a red stag taken in Carroll County.

There are U.S. hunters who spend small fortunes and travel to exotic lands for the opportunity to take the magnificent red stag. The fourth largest deer species inhabits most of Europe, Iran, parts of western Asia and northern Africa.

Those hunters are likely to wince once they find out that a Georgia hunter took one on his 40-acre piece of property in Carroll County. It was one of four separate red stag he has caught on game cameras on the property.

“It is my understanding that about 10 years or so ago that someone had a high-fence operation with red stag about 3 miles from our property,” said Richie Williams, who took the 11-point, non-native species estimated to weigh between 400 and 450 pounds. “That was before my time here, but people here say some have been roaming around here for years.”

WRD Wildlife Biologist Charlie Killmaster says it is highly unusual for an exotic that escapes a high-fence enclosure to survive for more than a week, especially during hunting season. He said hunters must not have realized that it is legal to shoot them.

“I manage for whitetail deer and feed them year-round,” Richie said. “I have 5 acres and my wife’s grandad has 35 acres that joins my property. I keep them both up. There’s a bunch of trails and 2 to 3 acres of food plots.

“I like my whitetails. I read that if you have red stag on your property, it will hurt your whitetail deer population.”

Richie said that normally he sees good bucks, but he hasn’t seen them in a while. That’s why he decided to do some checking. After talking with a local game warden, he found that since red stag are a non-native species in Georgia, you can hunt them any time you want, or however you want, as long as you are on your own property.

It was not the first time the red stag has been found in Georgia. In 2021, a roaming red stag was caught on game cameras in a four-county area in central Georgia. Because of that, DNR passed a resolution that allows the killing of any red stag found in the state that may have escaped an exotic high-fence operation. Hunters are not required to use a white-tailed deer tag on a red stag.

Richie said he made it his goal to take the largest of the invaders on his property. He began hunting the stag about three evenings a week. He finally got his chance on Dec. 11 when the red stag, which previously had appeared on camera at night, appeared at about 6 p.m.  To make the situation even stranger, the antlers were wrapped in an electric rope, the type found in some horse pastures. The stag was also dragging a long length of the electric rope.

“All I can figure was that he got caught in the electric rope and someone cut him loose,” he said. “It was wrapped around him pretty tight.”

Richie said it ran only about 20 yards before collapsing.

“I called some buddies and told them I was going to need some help,” he said. “I was able to drive the tractor right up to it, but it took four of us to get it into the bucket because he was so big.”

Richie took the meat to the processor and the head to a taxidermist to have it mounted so he would have proof of the unusual kill.

“I understand the meat tastes a lot like elk,” he said. “They say it tastes really good.”

Richie has several trail-cam photos of the red stag.

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