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Rusa stags lurking on the fringes
– Hunting Experiences

Poronui has a good population of rusa deer. Each year more and more young potential trophies are becoming shootable mature stags. For much of the year, only fleeting glimpses are seen of the males, but come the rut in late July and August they suddenly appear on the scrub fringes and warmer bush clearings looking for hinds and a resident territory. A shy deer species by nature, very gregarious, semi-nocturnal, and lurking never far from thick cover, the wary stag makes for a worthy hunter quarry. Winter is the time they let their guard down.

Their rutting call sounds like a tired, lazy growl ending with a final drawn-out ‘errr’ groan. They sound like they’re at the end of a hard night and just want to sleep. There’s no sense of urgency in their roars. In fact, they often park up in a likely spot, roar spasmodically, and seek hinds close to their location. Dawn and dusk are the best times to lay eyes on them. The vegetation gets a thrashing at rut time and each stag likes nothing more than adorning his antlers and face with a bushy hat.

Poronui rusa, especially the stags, are particularly solid animals and much bigger bulk-wise than New Caledonia rusa. Being a herd animal, they’re seldom alone. If a hunter is spotted the eagle-eyed sentinel barks and all the animals of the group flee into the scrub. The stag’s running action is like a pig’s scuttle with the head held low. If you follow them into the bush they’re always watching their back trail and a further bark will see them flee permanently away from the danger site. Bush stalking after a particular animal is seldom successful — there are too many eyes.

The best hunting techniques at Poronui are: 

  • to hunt at first sunlight or late afternoon
  • target warm sunny bush and scrub clearings from a shooting vantage point
  • be prepared for opportunistic meetings while on reconnaissance
  • carefully glass fringe country where a stag may be bedded or wandering 

Poronui hunting guides know the best rusa spots and will target them. Winter is actually a good time to secure other deer species as well. Red, sika, and fallow males are all in hard antler through to late August.

No one knows how long the present global crisis will last, but come winter one thing we can guarantee is the lazy growl of rusa stags will be rolling out of Poronui. It’s an adventure worth pencilling in on the bucket list.   

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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