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About Rusa
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Years ago on a visit to Poronui I photographed an inquisitive rusa spiker at point blank range. He was the only rusa I saw that trip but my guide Mark said the species was well acclimatised though wary. Zoom forward to the present and on a recent hunt on Poronui I saw over fifty individual animals. Rusa weren’t my target species so I wasn’t even glassing specifically for them. They are clearly doing very well and are now an obvious and extremely successful big game species throughout the Poronui hunting estate. What struck me immediately on my recent trip was the number of rusa I was seeing, the impressive physical condition of the animals, and the number of adult trophy quality stags spotted. The photographs accompanying this article show some of what I observed. The rut goes from mid-July to August so this period is the time to book a trophy rusa stag hunt. Other game present is red, sika, fallow and sambar.

Rusa like sun so on my latest visit there were small mobs of rusa (three to five animals) feeding and resting on most north facing clearings. Rusa were originally introduced from New Caledonia, a country with a huge population of wild rusa. Trophy quality there is very good so the genes in the deer living on Poronui are excellent.

Rusa stag antlers consist of six tines, with length, weight and even shape determining quality. Of these factors length is the most obvious trait, the longer the better and a top shelf stag can scratch his tail when he roars. Shooting a big stag can be quite opportunistic, with the lucky hunter being in the right place (hunting Poronui) at the right time (a stag venturing into the open). Certain spots always hold stags but this deer species is wary and retreats quickly to thick cover when disturbed. In New Caledonia I remember seeing a stag hide in a pond when hunting dogs were nearby. It retreated to deep water and lay down with only its nose above the surface. The dogs lost the scent and gave up the hunt. When the coast was clear the deer stood up and snuck away into the scrub. Rusa stags have a reputation for toughness. They fight each other violently, and are a hard deer to kill outright. When disturbed they lower their outline and scuttle away similar to a pig.

Most rifle shots are taken at long range, as stalking in is very difficult. They are a very tight herd animal and watch out for each other when in the open. Once spooked, they vocalise and head for cover, and once out of sight watch their back trail for some time before relaxing. The gallery of shot stags taken on Poronui show continual improvement as many mature stags now have plenty of age behind them.

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