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The Season of Plenty
– Hunting Experiences

Summer Overview

The months of December, January and February constitute summer in New Zealand. On Poronui this three-month block of time offers light breezes, balmy weather conditions, and abundant grass growth. Stags and bucks are in velvet, females have young at foot and every creature on the property is packing on extra weight for the more challenging seasons ahead. Well-fed deer can practically glow at this time of year and in the late afternoon fawns gambol and leap with energy gained from their mother’s rich milk. There is little deer hunting at this time of year with visiting clients enjoying a range of other activities such as trout fly-fishing, horse treks, hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, glamping, and wildlife photography.

Picture of a deer in Poronui landscape

Velvet stags and bucks

With the exception of rusa deer all the trophy stags and bucks on Poronui will be carrying velvet antlers during summer. Old antlers were dropped back in August/September so by January the hardening heads are well on their way to completion. The developing antlers are swollen and tender so the red stag males hang out with other males in remote, open basins where they can avoid banging against branches, while fallow bucks and older sika stags disappear into the scrub, reappearing in autumn with stripped antlers. The distinction of having the most impressive velvet antlers lies with the red stags. Huge heads, well-conditioned frames and shining coats produce the ‘wow’ factor. It is a good time of year for photographers as game is focussed on food, out in the open and far less wary.

Velvet stags and bucks during the season of plenty

Family groups

Guests on the property at this time will see a lot of deer because the family groups are very visible. A family mob usually consists of four or five animals led by grandma and her oldest daughter. Their preferred diet is new grass so in the case of free-range sika the older females will bring their family groups to where the grass is the sweetest. Hikers and riders will see sika in all sorts of places as they carry out their activities. Hotspots are alongside the access roads; on clearings; under the trees bordering rivers, and on farmland fringes. Dawn and dusk are prime times to see feeding animals.  The cutover hill-faces and gum plantation fringes are also popular. Fallow can be quite fearless at this time of year and will graze well away from cover.

Group of stags an deers

Ambassadors for the property

Summer is when the deer are at their most visible and active. Young deer in particular steal the show with their frolics and their cute mannerisms. Guest cameras just keep on clicking once they start performing. Filled up with mum’s milk and egged on by similar-aged young deer they take the game of tag to a new level. They run, jump, pirouette, and chase each other all over the scattered clearings playing ‘follow the leader’. Deer are vivid in colour during summer. In the case of red deer their coat takes on a strong russet red colour and animals are easily spotted several valleys away. Sika is perhaps the most beautiful deer species with a delicate body shape and chestnut pelt covered in white spots. Common fallow deer are also stunning with white spots on a tan background. Rusa are the plainest of the four species and are seldom seen during summer—a shy species they are most seen during winter when they seek the warm sunny clearings.

Summer is a quiet season in the deer calendar. It is a time when herds experience a calm society, seek lots of food, grow antlers in safe spots, and in the main are safe from hunters!

beautiful deer in poronui

Greg Morton: A New Zealand correspondent for the USA based publications The Hunting Report; The Bird Hunting Report and The Angling Report for many years. He presently writes a monthly article named Fair Chase for the New Zealand Fishing News and a hunting blog for Poronui Hunting.
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