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Elusive Fallow Bucks
– About

Of all the male deer in New Zealand fallow can be the most elusive, particularly the adult bucks. They are very obvious and very noisy in the rut but outside that period can seemingly vanish. In a word they go ‘bush’. Real loners.

Two times though you might luck on to a group of the bucks is when food not sex is on their mind. The first instance is post rut when they mob up together and feed enthusiastically on a farmer’s feed crop: the second time is late spring/early summer when green grass attracts them out into the open.

The sad part of each appearance is that their guard is down. In the first situation the feed crop is often not on the property they live on and by going off the reservation they are in real danger. There are tales of neighbouring farms shooting several trophy bucks on their swedes. In most cases it is the bucks not the does who do the wandering so it is a serious problem to a free-range hunting operation. Some landowners with fallow deer herds grow their own feed crops purely to keep their trophy bucks at home.

Grass eating bucks can also become very predictable, and quite easy to ambush. The photos accompanying this entry were the result of me stalking in on a group of bucks and spikers that were head down and backside up scoffing tucker one late summer afternoon in the Central North Island. I stalked so close to the best of the bucks that when he finally lifted his head the photo caught him with a flower in the corner of his jaw. A real peace- loving male. It is one of my favourite photographs. Outside these times adult bucks are mysteriously absent, but come the rut they will be back on their scrapes fighting and croaking for all they are worth. Where they have been is anyone’s guess.

Greg Morton

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