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Hunting Poronui during winter
– Hunting Experiences

Winter at Poronui arrives in June, and by the end of August, the worst of the season is usually over. Odd sporadic gales are still possible, but days are longer, some new growth is appearing, and lowland farms are lambing.

Nestled at a relatively high North Island altitude, Poronui game hunkers down over the winter months and the game species on offer are more sedentary as they conserve energy and warmth. The only exception is the rusa deer that rut during late July and throughout August. Natural mortality affects them most because of this out-of-season rut and due to the fact they prefer a warm to a cold winter climate. Trophy rusa stags that were hidden during the other three seasons are suddenly very conspicuous.

When storms pass through at Poronui they can bring snow and rain, while clear days will follow crisp frosts. There is no wind on many winter days, though fog can sit in the valleys.

During winter, the days range in temperature from 23–59℉ (-5–15℃), with dawn arriving at about 7.30am and dusk at about 5.45pm. Food is harder for game to find, and this can aid hunters visiting during these months. There are many attractions on Poronui for wintering deer; the fringes of the farmland, clear ridges and clearings that are warmed first in the morning, the plants growing below felled trees, and the grass areas within sheltered tree stands. At this time of year, life is all about shelter, warmth, and food.

The big trophy animals shed their antlers first, mostly in August, and all of the male deer should have shed antlers by the end of September. New antlers begin growing immediately and the first trophy hunts involving stripping velvet take place in late summer.

Over the years I have hunted during winter at Poronui three times and would have to say it is a good time to harvest a quality trophy. Animals are conspicuous, less wary, and they routinely frequent the same grazing areas. Spot and stalk is still a winning tactic. Weather is the main obstacle, particularly heavy snow and sleet blizzards, but the lodge is a warm, hospitable refuge when Mother Nature flexes her muscles.

Like the game you hunt, a slower way of operating works well at this time of year.

Greg Morton
One of New Zealand’s longest 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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