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Trophy Friends

In March of 2022, I encountered four Poronui male deer that were hanging out together feeding up big time in preparation for the rut. This is a reasonably common event within the hunting estate at this time of year. The quartet of animals had emerged from a large stand of mixed native and exotic trees and was now grazing out in the open amongst cut pine tree stumps and debris.
Cover photo of deer lying in grass

Male Foursome

Two were trophies and two were younger animals that were happy to be accepted by their elders. Often mature stags will allow this relationship to exist as the youngsters provide company and extra eyes on the hill. Their role is to be submissive servants and look after the safety of the older males. In return they see how experienced stags operate. When the rut begins in earnest all bets are off and the young animals will be run off and become satellite stags lurking on the edges of dominant stag harems.

Young Companions Unusual Trophy Friends

Trophy Sika Stag

The leader of this quartet was a quality sika stag with a neat 8 point set of antlers. His pelage leaned towards Manchurian ancestry. Even while feeding he was very on edge and once even assumed a dominance posture with neck outstretched to a stag that fed near him. The two young animals were also sika.

Sika Stag In Poronui

Trophy Common Fallow Buck

The fourth animal was a spectacular surprise. He was a massive, spotted fallow buck. He was one of the biggest fallow buck heads I have seen on the property and since I had no rifle, he, and the big sika stag will most likely still be there when the new hunting season opens in 2023. His antlers were long, wide and heavy and the palms were deep. Whoever harvests him will have taken a top trophy. The two mature males grazed close to each other, acted like herd friends, while the young animals formed their own pair further away.

Common Fallow Buck Deer in Poronui

A Temporary Alliance

I was in cover quite some distance away from them but birds were aware of my presence and began calling out. The big sika was wary, and on the alert, and eventually decided to head back into the bush. I thought the fallow buck would go his own way at this point but I was proved wrong as he mooched along with them. It looked to me that the fallow had attached himself to the sika trio rather than the other way round. I’m sure this would be a very temporary occurrence. Give it a few more weeks and I’m sure the sika/fallow alliance would have split asunder as both species, and age groups went looking for their same species females.

A Temporary Alliance Between Deer

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