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New Zealand Red Stag – Dominance and Scent
– Hunting Experiences

For red deer stags and fallow deer bucks, the rut is the time when all males smell the part and try and walk the talk. Amongst harem herd species like reds and fallow the dominant male gets the girls and the lesser males are wannabe spectators. The red stag is often given the title ‘the monarch of the glen’; and at the peak of the roar a master, king stag takes no prisoners. His deep bellows, pungent wallow holes, high scent markings, thrashed trees and arrogant swagger tell all opponents to steer clear of his territory. He will fight if necessary but usually finds his foes learnt pre-season that he had the muscle on them so skirt the fringes hoping for scraps.

If dominant Red Stags and Fallow Bucks wore Fitbit or Garmin step bracelets their readings would be in the thousands of kilometres as they repeatedly patrol their territories checking if any of the hinds and does are cycling, chasing away interlopers, aggressively posturing through roars or croaks, covering themselves with pungent scent mixtures, and generally just wearing themselves ragged. By seasons end they will be skinny bags of bones, but have a smile on their faces.

The photograph accompanying this entry shows a stag doing what males do at this time of the year. The Red Stag is posturing, showing whoever is looking that he has the bulk, and the antlers to see off any rival. What girl can refuse him: what stag can beat him? He has fourteen points so counts as an imperial. He has no hinds so once scented up he’s off again in search of action.

Fallow Bucks usually let the does come to them and favoured territories will year after year have a big buck in residence. The Fallow Buck photograph here shows a pretty good black buck following a doe who visited his scrape, then coyly ran away when he approached. He wants to know more about her so is in hot pursuit. The doe nearly ran me over and the poor old buck just has that ‘who the hell are you’ look in his eyes. It won’t be the first time over a season that his hopes for a hot date will be dashed, as his antler size is of trophy quality but not master buck size. In the deer world size does matter a lot.

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