Newcomer triumphs at Velvet Nationals

Newcomer triumphs at Velvet Nationals

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Aucklander John Ramsey entered the National Velvet Competition this year only after he was “conned into it” by friends at the earlier North Island Velvet Competition, but he’s glad he took their advice.

Ramsey has been growing deer at farms between Rotorua and Auckland for 30 years, and also owns Crusader Meats, near Te Kuiti. He’s currently producing 7 tonnes of velvet and supplying 1600 venison animals a year.

However he had never entered a velvet competition until just last year when he entered the Xcell Rising Stars competition. He had instant success there, taking out first and second places in the super heavy weight (10+ kg) event and second place in the 2-year-old red velvet class.

Earlier this month he entered the North Island Velvet Competition in Te Awamutu and again did very well. His seven-year-old stag G296 (also a Rising Stars winner) took out the champion red velvet class and people’s choice award with a 14.44 kg head. Ramsey’s entries also won the 3-, 4- and 5-year red velvet classes, an unprecedented clean sweep, edging out some of the North Island’s highest profile breeders and commercial farmers.

He was sufficiently encouraged to enter the national event held in Invercargill on 10–11 December and once again swept the field, showing that a commercial operation can produce the highest quality velvet antler.

His stag G296 again topped the red deer field, winning the prestigious open red velvet section. Ramsey also won the 4-year and 5-year red sections, with G296 putting the icing on the cake, winning the supreme PGG Wrightson Allcomers Trophy. Industry stalwart Tom Cruse won the 3-year red section with a 10.28 kg head.

The Rupert family, who dominated the red deer sections at last year’s nationals, came in second in the open red section with a head from Zeus, and picked up second and third places in the 5-year red section.

Southland elk/wapiti breeder Dave Lawrence continued his good form. The evergreen Nepia won the elk supreme section with a 24.46 kg velvet head and was reserve champion in the Allcomers Trophy, while his bulls Breeze and Celsius won first and second in the 3-year elk/wapiti section. Mayfield Elk took the top places in the 4-year elk/wapiti section.

Each winner in the four trophy antler sections was the largest ever recorded for its class. Oamaru’s GD Kingan won this year’s fallow trophy antler section, while Whyte Farming continued their dominance in the elk/wapiti trophy antler section, winning both typical and non-typical classes. Canes Deer won the red trophy antler section. Donald Whyte’s well-known bull, Seattle was trophy antler champion for the third year in a row and also people’s choice winner.

National competition judge Tony Pearse said the increase in weights in all sections continued this year, but overall presentation was also excellent, right across the board. He was delighted to see the success of newcomer John Ramsey on the national stage. “I don’t think he quite realised how good his velvet is. He certainly does now!”

Tony Cochrane, who was one of three judges for the red section, said the focus remained on nice rounded and tidy velvet antler.

“In the past we’ve sometimes seen antler too long or with too many tynes. The winners this year were sending all the right signals to the industry. Some people lack the confidence to enter because they don’t think they can match the big weights, but the winning heads this year weren’t the heaviest. It’s also about style,” he says.

Cochrane said John Ramsey had got his breeding, feeding and management right, and was reaping the rewards.

Ramsey paid tribute to his manager of more than 20 years, Gus Schischka, who accompanied him to Invercargill for the national competition. “Gus works hard and knows his stuff.”

And will he be back for next year’s national competition? “Definitely.”

  • A profile on John Ramsey will be published in the February 2019 Deer Industry News.
  • For full results from velvet and hard antler competitions:

The stuff of champions. John Ramsey’s 14.46 kg head of velvet from 7-year-old Green 296 swept the field at both the North Island and National Velvet Competitions

John Ramsey (left) and long-serving deer manager Gus Schrischka celebrate their success at the North Island Velvet Competition

Photo: Chrissy Hocken

Peter McIntyre, one of a large group of behind-the-scenes helpers from the Southland Deer Farmers’ Association National Velvet Competition Committee, finalises the 5 year old Red display entries for public viewing at the 2018 National Velvet and Hard Antler Competition  

Photo: Tony Pearse