I'm in a bit of a quandry over which Roe to shoot, bucks in particular.
Here's the background. I have been stalking for several years now and have had permission on my own ground for a year or so. There seems to be a good head of Roe, Fallow and some Muntjac and I have had numerous successful outings.
The land is a large arable farm in the midlands and short of formulating a formal management plan (which I intend to do with the help of some people from this site during the winter), I have the following poilcy: Shoot whatever Fallow that I can to reduce numbers significantly and hence reduce the current high level of damage to the growing arable crops. With regard to Roe, I want to be a bit more selective and slightly reduce current population, but not hammer them as much as the Fallow as they don't seem to be creating so much damage to the crop (Forestry is not a major concern here). I obviously want to improve the quality of the animals on the land accross the board.
So, onto the question itself: When it comes to the Roe, which bucks should I be shooting and which should I be leaving? The majority of bucks seem to fall into the 2-4 year old category from what I can make out and apart from a few that seem to be suffering from brittle antlers, they appear to all be healthy and well fed. There are a good crop of fawns this time and the male/female balance seems good (slightly more does than bucks), but I don't have many of what I would term 'old' bucks about.
Here are some pictures of the sort of bucks that I have been taking:
I am not an expert on ageing these animals by any means, certainly from 100 or more yards away, so am doing my best at educated guesses. The last one that I shot (pic #4), I feel may have been better left to breed on for a year or two longer, but the second you've pulled the trigger it's too late for second thoughts as we all know! The one in the third picture had a broken point and looked like he had 'peaked' already to me and the first two pictured here, I had labelled as young 'transient' bucks that were drifting around looking for territory.
What are the thoughts of you experienced lads and lasses out there? Admittedly the first few that I shot on this permission were not really 'selected', but shot because they presented an opportunity and I was excited about stalking on my own land and showing the landowner a result. Now I have settled into it a bit, I want to be more selective and not just shoot what moves (or doesn't as the case may be ).
A long-winded question I know, but hopefully you see what I am getting at. Interested to know what you think, positive or negative. And bear in mind, we all have to start somewhere!
Thanks for reading,