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Hunting Fallow Bucks in March
– Hunting Experiences

Fallow bucks rut later than red stags but that does not mean they are invisible in March. In fact it is the opposite. This month constitutes the pre-rut fallow buck hunting period and is characterised by accessibility of numerous trophy bucks carrying hard antlers. Spot and stalk is the tactic of choice at this time of year as the fallow bucks are out in the open feeding hard before the main fallow rut starts in mid-April. March antlers are pristine, and common phase bucks are still in their spotted chestnut coats. It is a great time to hunt.

Beautiful fallow buck standing in a field

Last Chance to put on body condition

I have hunted Poronui twice for fallow bucks during the early weeks of March and was amazed at the number of mature bucks I sighted. Unlike April when they are rutting hard on their hidden individual territories these animals were out feeding on open clearings and cutover well away from female company and young males. It was heads down and full on chomping for the big boys and their swollen bellies and glossy coats indicated eating was the main pre-occupation. While moving they only occasionally had a look around for danger and tended to mooch along slowly hovering up grass as they went. The animals I spotted seemed to be living in small grassy guts and gullies and rested on small plateaus where they could ruminate between feeding sessions.

fallow buck eating in poronui field

Why hunt fallow bucks in March

There are five main reasons I would recommend hunting for a top fallow buck at this time of year.

  • The trophy bucks which seemingly disappeared over the velvet summer period have re-appeared and are grazing in the open. They are very vulnerable for a few weeks.
  • It is a transition time as the fallow rut has not started yet so males and females are largely separate. The older bachelor mobs have reduced to a solitary buck or pair of mature bucks. These dominant trophy bucks are on their own without protective does or young males and they are piling on body condition well away from the safety of the trees.
  • Well-conditioned, glossy bucks are visible and easily spotted with good optics. Spot and stalk hunting is very effective.
  • In four weeks time the fighting will start and many trophy antlers will suffer broken tines, beams and palms. Trophies taken in March however are fully stripped and pristine. The trophies and pelts are at their best.
  • Most hunters visit in April so there may be more available vacancies in March. Red stag and sika stag are also carrying pristine antlers.

fallow buck hiding from hunters

A March fallow buck hunt

One of the largest trophy fallow bucks I have seen shot on Poronui was taken in the second week of March. Kate Bryant was the hunting guide and one overcast morning she glassed the old buck feeding in a deep, grassy gulch overlooking a creek and forest. He was on his own and feeding hard out for the looming rut four weeks in advance. The client had a look immediately gave a thumb up on assessing him. The hunt was on. A well planned stalk and accurate shot meant success for the client. The gold medal trophy was in great condition and though his face showed numerous rips and scars his long and wide antlers showed no fighting flaws. None of us had ever seen this animal before, but in March they can appear out of the woodwork as they look to bulk up.

dead fallow buck in a field

Greg Morton: A New Zealand correspondent for the USA based publications The Hunting Report; The Bird Hunting Report and The Angling Report for many years. He presently writes a monthly article named Fair Chase for the New Zealand Fishing News and a hunting blog for Poronui Hunting.
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