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Post Rut Stalks

A Predictable Time to Hunt

Poronui offers a huge range of hunting opportunities. As deer behaviour changes through the year the approach to hunting them also needs to change.  

Late February through to mid-March is the best time for a pre rut hunt. The stags are in hard antler but still in their bachelor groups making it easier to view numbers of animals side by side. From mid-March until the end of April, it’s rut time. The deer rut is a frenetic, noisy, and exciting annual event. Each male has about six weeks to seal the procreation deal, and there is a lot of competition between stags. It is a great time to hunt but it can be challenging targeting particular animals as they have abandoned their normal routines and are constantly on the move. Rutting trophy animals are surrounded by wary females and hopeful satellite stags and bucks. The rutting territories usually include lots of cover which can make it challenging to view of stalk in through the accompanying hinds.  

A Temporary Alliance Between Deer and red stag

Post Rut offers Predictable Patterns

While March and April attract most hunting effort, serious trophy hunters know that a more predictable time for reds, sika and fallow is actually post rut when things have quietened down.

The month of May is a good example. The hidden boss stags and bucks of the rut are beginning to leave the herds and the thick cover. Their main focus is to replenish lost body condition before winter sets in. After weeks of stress and feverish physical activity many are shadows of their pre-rut size and abandon caution to frequent clearings, often during the day, in their pursuit of a feed. Hunting guides focus on these areas at this time of year and clients take some great trophies that had not been seen during the rut. For a few weeks, trophy animals display predictable behaviour and are quite unwary.

A red stag in the Poronui landscape

A second short rut may occur

A second short rut may occur brought on by cycling hinds that were missed the month prior.  Stags will hang around the edge of the hind groups just in case some cycling females should appear. These stags are quite visible and vulnerable at this time so guides keep an eye on areas where deer numbers are quite high and often are surprised who is located lurking on the outskirts. There may be a short spike in roaring and aggression.

rut stag in Poronui

June to July heralds bachelor groups

Through June and July more and more stags and bucks appear in the open and by the end of July most are back in similar age bachelor groups. The primary requirements are food and warmth at this time, and energy output is minimised. It is a good time to assess trophy quality as male groups can be quite large and clients can select the trophy that appeals to them. In fallow buck groups colour selection can also be made. 

Free range sika stag groups move out of the bordering native bush areas and take up residence in areas on or close to Poronui farmland. These areas are well known to the hunting guides and large stags are harvested at this time. Cape quality of winter sika stags is excellent, either dark grey/black or spotted Manchurian specimens. 

three stags walking in Poronui landscape

Rusa Bonus Rut

A bonus for post rut hunters in late July and early to mid-August is that estate rusa stags are also rutting. Antler shedding for reds, sika and fallow begins in mid-August so the rusa rut signals the end of the stag hunting season. South Pacific wild billy goats and arapawa wild rams are available all year. 

hunter showing his trophy stag

Greg Morton
Previously New Zealand correspondent for three USA based outdoors publications: The Hunting Report; The Bird Hunting Report and The Angling Report, Presently writes a monthly article named Fair Chase for New Zealand Fishing News and a hunting blog for Poronui. 
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