Thieves who shot and tried to steal a prized stag in Cambridge have left its owners questioning their safety.
Ewan and Stephanie Hulse watched as poachers tried to steal one of their 113kg stags on Tuesday.
"They would have been after the antlers. It was one of our top breeding stags, a 28-pointer," said Mr Hulse.
The stag was worth around $5500-$7000.
"It was about 6 o'clock at night, and we heard a shot about 40m from the property where the deer are in the paddocks beside the house.
"It was very dark, so we couldn't see people, but we could see there was an animal lying in the paddock."
Mr Hulse said he could hear voices as he walked down beside the deer fence to investigate.
"They were armed with rifles, and you don't know what they're going to do. When people come onto your property and start shooting, it makes you question your safety."
The thieves could not see Mr Hulse, and he watched as they tried to drag the stag down a ridge.
When the poachers spotted him, they jumped over the gate and "took off".
Mr Hulse said the poachers probably ran up and over the top of the hill into another paddock.
"They would have cut the bottom fence and tried to drag [the stag] underneath if they hadn't been caught."
He added that the thieves didn't seem to have a car. He assumed they were picked up and dropped off.
The couple also posted in Neighbourhood Watch, and received a anonymous phonecall a few days later.
"The lady seemed to know who it was. She gave a number and address of someone but wouldn't give her name, but we passed that on to police."
Mr and Mrs Hulse breed deer for hunting at a safari park where overseas visitors pay to come and hunt the animals.
Cambridge's Sergeant Gordon Grantham said the owner of the stag took the right course of action when realising poachers were trying to drag the carcass from his property. He went to investigate and on seeing the stag being dragged towards the fence line he immediately contacted police.
The Cambridge duty patrol responded to the call but the offenders or their vehicle were not located.
Enquiries were continuing but the offenders had not been identified at this stage.
Police said should a landowner observe poachers on his or his neighbour's property, the correct course of action is to observe and report to Police via the 111 system.
"Keep on the line to police and continue to update movement of the offenders or their vehicle. It is strongly recommended they do not approach the poachers as they are armed and there is no way to determine the state of mind of the poacher or what he likely to do if confronted."
Poachers are targeting Waikato farms with a sudden spate of stock slaughtered and stolen in night-time raids on Cambridge farms.
Waikato Police say the district is experiencing a rise in poaching and want to catch those responsible.
One hobby farmer at Karapiro had four heavily pregnant ewes slaughtered with poachers leaving the offal and heads in a paddock.
Poachers also made a brazen attempt to shoot and steal a prize 113kg stag from a Cambridge breeding farm last Tuesday.
Police said it was extremely dangerous and were concerned for public safety.
"This is not only illegal but it's extremely dangerous when firearms are involved. We would love to catch those responsible."
The appealed for anyone with information to come forward to help identify the poachers and stop the illegal activity.