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Trophy fallow bucks in the cutover
– Hunting Experiences

This year, 2021, the fallow buck rut at Poronui came early. I arrived on April 5 and, according to head hunting guide Mark McGlashan, the bucks had already been croaking hard for a couple of days. Many had established their rutting pads, and wandering bachelors were on the move, frog belching in earnest. Remember the usual Fallow rut peak is later in April.

I believe the main reason for the early rutting behaviour was the high population of bucks-to-does ratio and the quality feed that had been available this year. Fallow have benefited from the removal of exotic forest on the property as well as a fantastic set of growing conditions this year. The new environment suits fallow feeding habits perfectly, and all deer seen were in excellent condition and spread out over the cutover faces. It’s likely the superb condition of the does has enabled them to cycle early, hence the romantic overtures from the bucks!

I have never seen the numbers of fallow bucks that I observed on this trip. Even better, the quality of the bucks, both juvenile and mature, was impressive. Poronui differs from many other game estates in that the bucks live their lives in the huge estate effectively as a free-range herd. The mature bucks are as cunning as any I have come across and it’s a challenging and rewarding hunt. Common fallow are the dominant colour phase, with occasional black bucks also amongst the herd.

On my visit I spent one full day looking for a representative trophy buck. With many fallow on display, the difficulty was deciding which buck fit the criteria I set for myself. The open landscape they prefer meant the binoculars got a great workout, as did the camera. Spot and stalk was the hunting tactic, and longer shots were the norm. All the photos you see here were taken on this day. We covered a lot of terrain.

Success occurred just 10 minutes before dark, back in the same cutover valley we had started our hunt in at first light that morning. Fallow buck are very territorial during the rut, and we had seen this animal pronging off into the scrub hours earlier. Mark knew he would return to check his scrape, and once again he was right.

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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