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Rusa immigrants
– Hunting Experiences

Indigenous to Java, rusa were introduced to New Caledonia in 1870, and, from there, eight animals were brought to New Zealand in 1907 and released in the North Island.

A hardy, wary deer species, the introduced free-range herd in New Zealand established itself slowly. The herd is confined to the northern fringe of Te Urewera National Park, and along the Galatea Plains’ scrubland faces.

Rusa released to the Poronui estate several years back trace their bloodline back to the original rusa immigrants, and, like the other deer species located at Poronui, are left to develop as a wild herd on their own merits. There have been no subsequent introductions, and herd descendants must survive weather and hunters through their toughness and elusiveness. It’s a tall ask for a warm Pacific Island deer species to survive New Zealand’s winter, and to rut in July and August, but the species has acclimatized and grown quickly in number.

New Caledonia rusa stags produce larger heads than Australia and New Zealand, and this is probably due to soil minerals, diet, and climate. Antlers of 34 inches–plus in length were relatively common on the island a decade back.

Poronui rusa stags are bigger animals with medium-sized antlers and a distinctive antler shape where the inners have a slight curl.

For three years in a row, I visited Poronui during the August rut, and over that time I saw three old stags that were top shelf for the population living there. Viewings were always opportunistic, usually on a clearing, and brief. There were two or three locations where such opportunities were most likely to occur so guides focus their attention there.

Hunters should be prepared to take advantage of any trophy rusa stag opportunity that comes along, as the males are a very cunning quarry and seldom let their guard down twice. If passed up early, the stag may not be around when you decide to go find him later in your visit.

When hunting for a rusa stag trophy, visit Poronui during late August, as at this time of year they roar well in the estate, carry hard antler, and are more visual and active. Other estate deer species (red stag, sika stag, and fallow buck) are still carrying hard antlers then, too.

 

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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