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Fallow: Wily, Elusive and Aggressive
– Hunting Experiences

Poronui guides have noticed fallow are an estate species many clients want to harvest because of the uniqueness of each buck.

Last year Mark McGlashan and I had the drop on two outstanding Poronui Estate fallow bucks. One black, one common, both gold medal trophies, both bedded in a very stalkable position. What could go wrong? The answer when it happened came down to the cunning of two species. A pair of native paradise ducks spotted us and started hysterically squawking and two cunning bucks reacted instinctively to the alarm calls by sprinting into thick cover. Game over. This incident depicts why a quality fallow buck is no easy beat.

Poronui guides have noticed fallow are an estate species many clients want to harvest because of the uniqueness of each buck. It would be fair to say no set of fallow palmated antlers are the same. Each set has an individual flair, and this combined with a range of animal colour characteristics make a buck a highly desirable hunting goal. On Poronui the common colour phase is dominant, though other colours are also seen.

In the last few yearly visits to Poronui I have seen more and more fallow and observed how game management, thoughtful genetic planning and new blood introductions have produced a high quality sustaining pool of bucks each hunting season. Fallow bucks are my favourite trophy deer and I love their aggressiveness during the rut, their antics when controlling their rutting pads and the shape of their antlers. I have shot more fallow bucks than any other type of male deer because I hunt them the most. Outside hunting season fallow venison is also recognised as perhaps the tastiest of deer table meat.

Their Achilles heel of a top fallow buck is their territorial nature and year after year bucks will return to where the family groups of female fallow hang out, and to their old pad. When numbers get high, major rutting pads occur and the fighting gets very serious. A rutting buck is an impressive animal: swollen mane and bulky body with cranky temper to boot. Fallow rut from mid-April to mid-May, and activity is most frenetic when days are mild and evenings cool. The rut may be long or very short depending on the weather.

At Poronui, the hunting guides know where these historic pads are located. Most buck scrapes are within the gums and native bush, or on the scrub edges where bush and grass clearings meet each other. Unlike some deer species, fallow attract to their scapes through croaking, scent marking and shallow pads and attempt to hold female visitors once they arrive. Parking up and glassing known fallow areas or waiting close to an active scrape are good hunting techniques. An emphasis should be placed on camouflage, silent clothing and footwear that minimises noise. During the fallow rut, sika stags will also be rutting while red stag activity will be tailing off. It is a noisy time of year.

Greg Morton

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