Image of the Day – 107

Today’s image – from 1998 – depicts the Devon & Somerset Stag Hounds after they’ve killed a deer.

The supporters of repeal of the Hunting Act are being careful to talk only about foxes and fox hunting, despite the fact that repeal would bring back deer hunting, hare hunting and coursing, and mink hunting.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    gilesbradshaw said,

    The Red Deer on my land tend to come through as a herd.

    I am not saying that they could not be successfully managed by stalking what I am saying is that to do that in an area like North Devon where there are hundreds of small holdings you would have to get lots of Landowners working together co operatively.

    This is because the herd of red deer exists on a completely different scale than individual holdings and you need a co ordinated and consistent approach.

    There is no such system for stalking at present but there is for Stag Hunting.

    It’s no good me doing one thing when the deer are on my holding and then someone else adopting a completely different strategy on another holding.

    The point I am making is that they should not have banned one method without sorting out its replacement.

    As for stalking deer for my purposes it makes no sense.

    I want to reduce the presence of deer in my coppiced woodland. When the red deer are here they spend a lot of time in the coppice and at the wrong time of year they can completely destroy freshly cut sections.

    Proper deer management through culling might involve taking out say for the sake of argument 20% of a herd each year. If I did that to the red deer herd when it comes on to my land it would reduce the damage they do by 20%.

    What’s the point of that? I need to reduce it by say 80% so what do I do? Massacre 80% of the herd? That would be crazy. The situation with deer is very different to foxes. My neighbour kills all the foxes on his land because he has a pheasant shoot but it makes very little difference to the local fox population because they are territorial animals. Deer wander in herds and use our land as a coridoor hence what I do to them when they are on my land has a much wider impact.

    I have a method that works much better for me it simply involves taking my dogs down to the woods when the herd of red deer are around and flushing them without killing them.

    If the deer regularly encounter what they consider to be predators in a location they tend to congregate somewhere else.

    I am not saying that all deer can or should be managed like this but on my small holding it works for me and I have never killed or harmed a single deer by doing it so I don;t see the problem.

    The Hunting Act makes it illegal for me to flush deer out of cover unless I take steps to shoot them. It’s been ruled in court that if I am flushing an entire herd then I have to have enough guns present to kill the entire herd. That’s crazy and would turn a bit of fun and harmless deer management into a blood bath.

    Do deer get stressed by being chased by dogs? Well yes I am sure they do but it is worth remembering that they have evolved for millions of years to be chased and all around the world in ecosystems which are complete wild deer are regularly not only chased but also bought down and killed by canines.

    The best form of deer management albeit one that is impractical in lowland Britain would be to have packs of vicious wild canines scouring the countryside for them. Not stag hounds but wolves.

    The Hunting Act simply does not work when applied to deer management. There is no need to kill flushed out deer if the aim is merely to disperse them and shooting a deer ‘as soon as possible’ after it has been flushed out means shooting it when it is running at speed which is wrong because it would be completely impossible to ensure a good shot.

    Ps would you put this picture up as a picture of the day? It’s taken during one of my early morning flushing missions. My coppice where I flush out and chase deer is shrouded in mist in the valley.

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