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Red Stags Feel the Rutting Urge in NZ


Each year in early to mid-March the Poronui red stag bachelor club begins to dissolve. The cause is the approaching red stag rut. Individual stags start acting out sexual frustration and restlessness while dominant ones reassert their hierarchy status. There is increased niggly aggression and tension between animals resulting in total fragmentation of the previously staunch male group within a few weeks. Those males who survive the rut hunting season will join up again in the winter months of May, June and July.
Red Stag Stands With AutumnLight Shining on himin NZ


Most antlers have been largely stripped by mid-March and each stag then was briefly engrossed in feeding hard out to build energy resources for the all-consuming rut that is coming. They look like tanks at this time of year with solid frames and thickening necks. Younger stags may have already slipped away on their own hoping to catch some hind action before the big boys turn up later towards the end of the month. The young hopefuls are then chased away and become satellite stags hanging around on the fringes.
Red Stag Deer stands in NZ Poronui and looks at camera.

The Rut

The red stags are the first deer species to begin rutting at Poronui with their peak occurring between late March and mid-April. As late March approaches mature stags leave the male groups and move to the hind herds to establish territory and round up females. To pass on their genes they must appeal to the females and intimidate or fight all males who approach his hinds. The dominant stags will be most successful and pass on their genes while the weak and young will be largely unsuccessful.
Silhouette of red stag deer rutting.

The Roar

New Zealand hunters call the red stag rut the roar because the bellowing and groaning noise made by numerous love-struck stags allows hunters to identify their whereabouts and stalk in on them over some six or so weeks. Often the roaring stag and his harem are located in thick bush and the hunter must sneak in carefully and assess the trophy at close range. Imitation red stag roars work well, often stirring up the angry boss stag so he approaches aggressively expecting to fight off the intruder. Such encounters make for an exciting and exhilarating memory. The red stag rut has long been the premier trophy hunting event in the New Zealand hunting calendar.
Red Stag Bellowing and Groaning.

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