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Seasonal Guide To The Spotted Fallow Deer Of Poronui

The majority of fallow deer observed at Poronui are ‘common’ fallow. This colour phase of individuals is often nicknamed ‘spotted fallow’ because of their striking markings through the months of late spring, summer and most of autumn. Winter is the odd season out as their coat at that time of year is a washed out blue/grey.

Spotted Fallow Deer In Poronui


The Poronui herd was sourced from Denmark stock, a country well regarded for the quality of antlers produced from its mostly ‘common’ fallow deer bucks. The original Poronui animals quickly became acclimatised to the hunting estate habitat and the top shelf trophy bucks that roam there today have proved themselves to be a wary, fair chase quarry.

Ancestry of Deer

Magnificent summer pelts

The months December to March are when the spotted animals are in their brightest coats. The tan/chestnut torso is sprinkled with large pure white spots; while there are also occasional spots on the neck. The legs and face have no spots Observed from behind the rump has a white patch outlined with a horseshoe-shaped black border and there is a light brown dorsal line. The lower neck and belly is white while a lower stomach horizontal white slash can be identified on most common animals. During summer with plentiful food available, they are beautiful and glossy, particularly the younger animals, and it is no surprise that because of their elegant, stunning appearance that they were often kept by European monarchy and aristocracy as ornamental park deer.

Magnificent summer pelts pic

Bucks Darken Up for the Rut

The peak of the fallow deer rut is throughout April and during this month the background tan colour of the common animals darkens as does the neck, dorsal line, and lower belly. The spots are still evident but the whole impression is now of a dark brown spotted deer.
I personally like this strong colour and the bucks in particular look rugged and more aggressive as though they have donned armour for the battles ahead. Their ‘pretty deer’ look is locked away in the wardrobe till spring. During summer they were fat and laid back but now the fat is muscle and they are either fiercely defending their territory, or croaking hard to attract females to their scrapes.

Bucks Darken Up for the Rut pic

Non-Descript Winter Coat

The winter coat is drab. It matches this gloomy time of year. A functional grey overcoat with white neck and belly designed to keep the wearer warm.
This is the only time of year that the label ‘common’ fallow is apt as three months later their finery returns.


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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