The need for deer culling
For many people deer stalking is a recreational activity, but it is also necessary to protect agricultural crops and forestry and indeed, deer, since they are prolific breeders and, if numbers are allowed to increase unchecked, may become prey to starvation and disease.
The culling of deer should always take place as part of a deer management plan which considers both the welfare of the animals and the damage they may cause.
Wherever appropriate, the management plan should involve close liaison and co-operation between neighbouring landowners and stalkers.
Here, resident deer stalking expert Keith Watson gives us a few tips for the upcoming Fallow doe season.
– Resting the ground for a few weeks after the rut can work to your advantage.
– Shoot any weak looking followers/fawns of the year on site. If they look rough now, they will only get worse.
– Trail cameras can play a big part in learning the deer’s movements and do the work of ten men in a week.
– Now is the time to move those highseats from their summer Roe buck positions to their new winter locations.
– If your ground operates as a gameshoot, keep your eye on the shoots pheasant feeders and any feed rides, as these are sure to be paid a visit by the deer as the weather gets harder. Putting your own feed bins out can pay dividends, as long as you don’t abuse it and overshoot the spot (Fallow are not stupid and learn by association).
– With Fallow deer being exceptionally transient, it pays to be friendly with your neighbour and their game shooting dates. I have experienced a few red-letter days when the deer have been pushed on my ground by the neighbouring shoot.
– If you have a cull target to reach, pursuing Fallow single-handed can be an arduous, thankless task. Organising days with friends or fellow stalkers can pay dividends. Bums on seats will definitely fill those gambrels rather than the lone approach at times.
– Know your gamekeepers schedule (routes and times). What you need to know is whether the deer treat him as friend or foe. If it’s the latter, you’ll find your Fallow deer will potentially exit the wood in the same place and that’s where you need to be.
– If you can get permission from your landowner to do some lamping/fox work, this can work in your favour, helping to work out population and densities, as you are sure to see many deer going about their midnight maneuvers (but remember this is only for observation, as it is illegal to shoot deer under the lamp).
– When it comes to deciding what to shoot regarding Fallow deer, I am of the opinion that unless you are operating on a piece of ground of at least 8 – 12,000 acres, then any management plans that you try to enforce will be quickly undone by your neighbour. So realistically, Fallow stalking is about controlling numbers in order to keep the population healthy and in-line with all other land use. My advice with any cull is to always shoot more does than bucks. But sometimes you have to cut your stick when you see it!
To book a stalk with Keith, or to see any of his bespoke stalking products for sale, visit www.keithshighseats.co.uk