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Black fallow bucks of Poronui
– Hunting Experiences

Fallow deer are the second most numerous deer in New Zealand. They inhabit both the North Island and South Island and, traditionally, the colour that has been dominant in free-range areas is the melanistic pelt. Older New Zealand hunters seldom saw other colours than black, though that is changing these days due to later introductions of European common deer.

Within the Poronui estate the most frequent pelt is chestnut with white spots. A beautiful colour that makes great floor rugs. This dominance goes back to the original Danish stock that was introduced. It would be fair to say that about 10 per cent, and increasing, of Poronui fallow are currently black, while white is rare.

On my visit in March 2022, I photographed several good black bucks, all on the cusp of being great bucks. I also photographed a stroppy black buck fighting a spotted rival and thrashing him. In years past, I had observed fewer black animals than this time, so somewhere out there at Poronui, a black buck (or two) of high quality has been very busy. Their progeny are coming through the age ranks and making their presence known across the property.

All that separates the black and common bucks at Poronui from a hunting point of view is colour and numbers. Both phases have excellent antlers. The visiting hunter who wants a black buck may have to look a little harder, but they are certainly there.

Of all the skin phases, it is black fallow deer that are the hardest to spot when stalking through scrub and bush. They merge into the background and just disappear. I once photographed a black doe standing on the edge of some native scrub. Upon looking at the photograph later, I was surprised to see there were actually three black deer in the shot, with two I had not seen, eyeballing me from the undergrowth behind the photographed one. I wonder how often that is the case when hunting black fallow.

This fallow buck trophy photograph was taken from the Poronui fallow buck gallery and is of a majestic-looking mature animal. Because of his age, many of the black bucks I observed recently could well be carrying his genes. Hunters should hope that is true.

 

Greg Morton
One of New Zealand’s longest-established hunting/fishing profile journalists. Outdoors writer since 1987. Past positions include New Zealand correspondent for The Hunting Report; The Bird Hunting Report, and The Angling Report, and writing a regular hunting article for New Zealand Outdoor for 30 years. Presently writes a monthly article named Fair Chase for New Zealand Fishing News and a hunting blog for Poronui, while continuing his passion for hunting, fishing, and wildlife photography. Lives in Alexandra, Central Otago.

 

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