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Weather Bomb Rusa!

My recent five day trip to Poronui in search of a mature rusa trophy was dominated by extreme weather, ‘a veritable bomb’ in the vernacular of New Zealanders. The week started cold with fog and frosts, became benign with some sun, developed into heavy rain and strong wind gusts, and then walloped us with a deluge of heavy snow blizzards. Rusa were introduced to New Zealand from New Caledonia so it should come as no surprise that we struggled to find animals out in the open when the really foul weather hit the Central Plateau of the North Island. Rusa are sun worshippers not reindeer. In essence, over the five days I was at Poronui we were only able to hunt rusa effectively for one day. The good news was that my blog prediction of trophy rusa now being widely available was true and over my weather affected stay I still sighted four trophy stags any hunter would have been pleased to secure. My mid-July visit was a few weeks early for the peak of the rut so only a couple of forlorn roars were heard and the males sighted were on the wander rather than based in a territory.

Day two was the only sun period of the trip and it was during this window of opportunity that we saw lots of rusa. The pick of them was a monster of a trophy animal, spotted in the distance running down a ridge. Big and solid he carried heavy long antlers and is the best rusa stag I have personally seen on Poronui. He paused once before fleeing into a belt of pine trees. We intended targeting him later in the week but the snow that arrived on the afternoon of day three snuffed out that possibility.

On the evening of day two we encountered two further mature rusa stags with neat rather than long heads. It was their bulk that caught the eye. I have never seen rusa stags so muscled up. On Poronui rusa are seriously big animals so the antlers are larger than they look because of the size of the animal underneath them.

When the bomb front hit the hunt was effectively over but towards the end of the week we crossed paths with another seriously big rusa, wider than the big boy seen at the start of the trip. Snow was falling heavily at the time and while driving back to the Lodge guide Mark spotted the big stag hanging out in the gums. The photo shows what we saw. Wow. A shadowy trophy hidden behind a wall of falling snowflakes. He let me take one snap before ghosting away into the scrub. There was no time to get out of the truck and go after him. When the weather deteriorated my trip was over but for the big rusa stags the cold snap will just rev up their rutting instincts even more. August will be a testosterone driven time on Poronui.

– Greg Morton

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