Over the years I have had the privilege of hunting several deer species, but the Red Stag will always be my personal favourite to hunt due to the guttural roars and majestic strutting of a mature stag during rut or roar period. The Red Stag is a very majestic animal in the way that he carries himself and hunting these beautiful animals is something I think every serious hunter would thoroughly enjoy.
In no way do I consider myself a pro at hunting Red deer, but I have been lucky enough to hunt them for most of my life and I hope that in this informative section, my knowledge may help some readers or any would be red deer hunters obtain a better understanding of the way these deer behave during the rut.
There have probably been more arguments than deer shot, over when exactly the rut or roar actually starts.
Usually the rut in South East Queensland’s Brisbane and Mary valleys starts late in March and runs for approximately 4 to 5 weeks depending on seasons, areas and deer numbers. Some years it will start later than others and this usually coincides with a cold snap in the weather, but the main reason is the hinds coming into estrus at this time of year. The more deer there are in an area the more rutting activity will take place and this is the opposite for areas with low numbers of deer as the stags in these areas don’t have other stags constantly harassing them trying to steal their hinds.
The Red deer range in Australia has multiplied drastically in the last 10 to 15 years through deliberate release or escapees. The main herds in Queensland and Victoria are still in great numbers but there are now good populations throughout most states, mainly NSW and South Australia with some exceptional trophies available due to the better genetics and bloodlines of these newer herds.
In Queensland’s Brisbane valley herds, where I have done most of my hunting, the benchmark is a double six or twelve point stag. This is by no means an easy goal to set yourself in this country as the majority of stags in these areas don’t have strong enough genes to ever grow that large, A 6×6 red stag is in my opinion an equal to a 230Dpt fallow buck or a 40-inch billy goat. They don’t come easy unless you are very lucky.
Red deer aren’t a difficult deer to kill and a well placed shot from most centrefire rifles calibres of .243 and above should be adequate but in my opinion the Win .270 or .30-06 Springfield are a much better choice.
These days I mainly hunt red deer with a bow and most Stags can be taken cleanly with a single well placed arrow.
Calling Stags. You can call stags into range for a shot by imitating another roaring stag or even hind calling, but first you need to understand the stags behaviour before using your calls to entice him in.
If a stag is holding hinds and he is looking interested in a particular hind in his harem you can be sure she is close to being in season and at this time using a hind call will most likely be in-affective. At this stage your best chance would be to keep quiet and stalk the stag.
No two stags are the same and they can all react totally different to your calls.
I often use a roar to see if I can get any nearby stags to become vocal. If you are doing this, its important to be on full alert as a stag nearby can be on you in a flash if he’s decided he doesn’t want you nears his hinds. Roaring at a stag if he’s closer than 100yards can and often will have him sneaking in on you looking for the stag he thinks is entering his personal space. This has worked for me quite a few times resulting in some up close and personal experiences.
The secret is to try different techniques, as different things will work at different times of the rut.
If you’re hunting the same property for a few weeks in a row and you have spotted a few stags in different gullies that are either too young to shoot or simply not a large enough head for your liking, don’t be afraid to go back and check these stags out from time to time. Younger stags will move in early and round up a harem of hinds but quite often a larger more mature animal will take over the younger or smaller stags hinds and rutting area. I have been surprised quite a few times with this, once seeing three different stags three weeks in a row holding the same harem in the same gully system.
Red deer hunting during the roar is a very exciting way to hunt deer. It’s a very vocal type of hunting that is hard to beat and once you’ve hunted the roar, you’ll be coming back for more next year.
Well I hope these few tips are helpful to anyone out there wanting to hunt a Red Stag. Just remember it’s not always about the taking of game, but just being out there in the Aussie bush enjoying yourself and what this great country of ours has to offer.