Looking for a fallow deer hunting primer? You’ve found it.
Fallow deer are a much sought-after game animal in many parts of the world. They are not the largest deer nor are they the fleetest of foot. But they sport a set of antlers that are elegant and showy, and wild fallow deer do present a challenging target for the sportsman. Fallow deer hunting is still a sport of kings and, you might say, Robin Hoods everywhere.
Fallow deer are native to Europe and the countries surrounding the Mediterranean. They were introduced into other regions of the world by the Romans and the Celts and, in modern times, into the United States by game ranches wanting to expand their exotic animal populations.
They are a relatively easily adaptable critter, willing and able to survive and thrive in deciduous and mixed woodlands with nearby open grasslands and farmland for feeding. They are also adaptable with their diets, preferring to graze and browse, but also willing to eat fungi and even dirt in order to consume nutrients.
Bucks will stand at around 34 to 45 inches high at the shoulder and can weigh over 200 pounds. Does are around 32 inches at the shoulder and weigh around 100 pounds or so. There are also three primary and distinct color variations for fallow deer. One is melanistic, an almost black coloration. The second is a burnt orange variation with white spots in summer, turning to a darker coat and losing most of the spots in winter. The third is leucistic, or cream colored. The leucistic color variation is common in Texas.
The bucks are the ones that grow those beautifully impressive antlers, which are shed and regrown each year. For the first two or three years of a buck’s life the antlers are spikes or are more “elk-like” with three to four basic tines coming off the main beams. Then as the bucks mature their antlers grow into elegantly palmated and sweeping shovels, with an irregular number of smaller points and usually a single larger tine arising from the shovel. They remind one of the kind of antlers the offspring of a moose and an elk might have.
A trophy set of antlers will measure at least 28-30 inches in length, with an inside spread of at least 24 inches.
Hunting fallow deer can be a physically taxing proposition if one chooses to spot and stalk or still hunt, or it can be an exercise in patience if one favors hunting from a blind or stand. Ground blinds or tree stands are situated much as they would be for whitetail deer, at a convergence of trails or adjacent to meadows, pastures or grassy fields.
Spot and stalk or still hunting fallow deer can take you through some rough terrain, and can be a physical challenge you won’t soon forget. The deer have good eyesight and an excellent sense of smell. Keeping downwind is paramount to a successful hunt.
If fallow deer sense danger nearby their body posture will change abruptly. They will stiffen up, develop a very upright posture, extend the neck and tail. They are on high alert in this posture and you will need to be extra deliberate and aware of your movement at this point to avoid getting busted.
Of course the rut is a good time to hunt fallow deer when their defenses are a little less focused, and the attention of the bucks is divided between looking out for danger and looking for does. They become excited and very territorial, and battling between bucks is common.
In fact, if you are going to hunt the rut it is not a bad idea to hunt it early in the season, as fighting between bucks can result in broken antlers. It is something to consider anyway. Your Ox Ranch hunting guides will be able to set you up for any style of hunting you are partial to, and at any time of the year you wish to give harvesting a fallow deer a go.