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Rutting April
– Hunting Experiences

The Silence is broken!

Deer are typically quiet, secretive animals.  That all changes in April! April encompasses the peak of the deer rut for three species at Poronui.  Hunters will hear roaring red stags, croaking fallow bucks and calling sika stags – often on the same hunt! It is a frenetic time for all rutting deer; best described by those who experience it as chaotic, exciting and sheer bedlam. New Zealand hunters name April “the roar period”, as historically most hunters sought aggressive red stag trophies throughout the country at this time of year. It is the only hunting time when hunters know exactly where their quarry is located, and the follow up encounters can occur at very close range. There are a lot animals on the wander during this month so’ locate, watch and stalk’ are a tactic used by most of the guides.

Deer rutting in poronui

Roaring Red Deer Stags

The red stags of Poronui are in the heavyweight class when it comes to rutting. They are mature, powerful, and carry impressive trophy antlers of diverse shapes and character. When the big boys go seeking hinds for five weeks or so the whole hunting estate knows they are on the prowl and their roars show they mean business. They threaten rivals, gather up the hinds they wish to mate with, then hold them for some weeks against all interlopers who dare approach their territory. They are the greatest noise makers on the property; roaring mostly in the early morning and early evening and also through the night. Cold weather sees an increase in their bellows. The purpose of a roar is to intimidate foes and tell hinds where particular stag territories are located. Assertive stags rounding up hinds or chasing off satellite stags are also often heard angrily grunting as they they go about their business. Poronui guides are skilled in the art of imitation roaring and often get an angry stag to briefly leave their territory and harem to sort out the intruder which presents a shooting opportunity.

Deer rutting in poronui

Belching Fallow Bucks

The rutting call of the fallow buck has often been mistaken for a croaking bullfrog, a person with indigestion trying to belch, or a feeding wild pig. The repetitive sound travels a long way and indicates the buck making the noise is trying to attract does to his territory where he will try to get them to stay and mate with him. The rutting noise of the bucks will reach its peak in mid to late April. Each one is trying to show the does that he is the best fallow buck on the property. He croaks, he marks trees and shrubs, he maintains his scrapes and he chases off young wannabe males. Once he has attracted some does his aggression towards other males increases tenfold and he fights viciously any males who ignored his parallel walking session or vigorous croaking. Injuries are common. Croaking bucks hardly ever stand still and are constantly patrolling their territory. Guides often select an ambush spot near a master buck with does and intercept the trophy buck as he completes his territory patrol.

Deer rutting in poronui

Calling Sika Stags

Sika are an extremely vocal deer species with hunters most familiar with the alarm squeal indicating the hunter has been busted. That sound will still occur if you are smelt or spotted but the three main rutting calls used by the stags are the territory call, the single call and the close range mew sound. During the peak of the rut the territorial ‘hee-haw’ call is heard all over the property and from a hunter point of view establishes where the stag making it is located. Individual animals may repeat this call every half an hour or so. The single call means a stag may be in the company of a hind about to come into season. He is being more elusive. The restrained mew call is a stag establishing the intentions of nearby deer or rivals. He is very close when you hear a mew. Like the red deer stag the sika stag will come in boldly to imitation calls so clients have to be ready to have an aggressive stag in their lap. Bow-hunters enjoy these close-range adventures.

Deer rutting 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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