Hunting Fallow Buck in New Zealand

Whitetail hunters from the US will be well-prepared to successfully hunt fallow deer in New Zealand. Standing at approximately three feet at shoulder height, the small bodied deer typically remain under cover, which requires some skill from the hunter. New Zealand follows the Douglas scoring system to assess fallow buck trophies, and the best fallow head score recorded was a 266 3/8 in 2001.

Somewhat larger than the domestic goat, an adult male fallow typically weighs approximately 175 to 200 lbs, while the doe is smaller. Fallow deer have spots, and subspecies are variable in color. Commonly, the deer will have a white mottled brown coat that appears more pronounced in summer. During winter, the coat will appear darker. The albinistic subspecies is almost white, while menil and common deer are darker, and the melanistic is much darker. Almost black in color, the melanistic fallow is easily mistaken for the Sika.

The dainty and slender animal produces delectable venison, as they seem to choose the locations with the most nutritious feed within their range. As a result, the bucks tend to grow proportionately large antlers for their body size. Their palmated antlers only reach their full potential when the bucks reach the mature age of six years.

During the rut (April and May) the fallow tends to be very aggressive and bucks are known to battle to the death. They will mark off an area from which other males are excluded by making scrapes on the ground and by urinating on it. The bucks will urinate on the scrapes and even on their antlers, thus emitting a strong odor that is easily detectable by hunters.

In spring, you may see large groups of 20-40 fallow bucks together.

The fallow deer has a flat, paddled antler that resembles that of a moose. Trophy quality is assessed based on palm width and palm points. Good antlers are approximately 30 inches in length with a similar outside spread.

The melanistic variation is generally rarer, although wild New Zealand herds often have a high melanistic percentage


Fallow Deer Fact Sheet

Scientific Name: Dama Dama
Buck Weight: 60 - 100 kg
Doe Weight: 30 - 50 kg
Gestation period: 230 days
Height: 85 - 95 cm
Length: 140 - 160 cm


Hunting Considerations

Free range fallow hunting is exciting and challenging, especially in mountainous terrain. It offers a great opportunity for spot and stalk hunting.

When hunting fallow deer, an acute sense of smell and good eyesight will stand you in good stead. Use any available cover and hunt into the wind to avoid detection.

During summer, fallow will mainly feed during dawn and dusk and spend the rest of the day resting in heavy cover. In winter, they feed most of the day.

Opt for a rifle caliber of .243 or higher. Some of the most common cartridges used for fallow hunting, include 6.5x55, 7x57, .270, .308 or .30-06. Select a controlled expansion projectile with a mid-weight range.

Shot Placement

Shot placement is crucial in minimizing damage to the gourmet quality meat in the animal's forequarter. In order to ensure the best quality venison, the hunter has to shoot with the purpose of killing the animal instantly. Not only is this more humane, but it also prevents the adrenaline surge that results in tough meat.

Aim slightly behind the shoulder, just above center for a lung shot.


Fallow Deer Shot Placement


Fallow Deer Shot Placement


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