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Thread: Accurate Deer count?

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member tartinjock's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    Nairn, Inverness-shire

    Accurate Deer count?

    What is the way to work this out, I am helping on a bit of ground but on an "admin" basis only, hoping to get the stalking on it if I prove my compatence on it.....

    I've already ID'd the species on the ground, I am also spotting the droppings from the species but want to know how to do the "science" bit and work out numbers from it....What is the method? What size area x how many turds = deer?

    I fully understand that this is not a 100% accurate method but will give some sort of indication to numbers on the ground, therefor cull numbers required.



  2. #2
    Hi TJ

    Get yourself a copy of the Forestry commissions bulletin 128 titled Estimating deer abundance in woodlands: the combination plot technique.

    Its intence but full of information.

  3. #3
    Hi Stu

    You can get started here :

    But you need to be detailed and systematic in what you do, and be able to defend the conclusions to which you come. It will take numerous visits over a long period to get the answer. The link above talks about minumum 6 plots for each habitat type/area of 50-200 m2 each. If you have more than one habitat or area type then you need to do that many plots as a minimum for each. You need to mark/clear each pellet group you find!!

    Don't fall into the trap of having a quick walkabout for an hour and eyeballing dung, tree damage etc then having a stab at the numbers - the key is getting your plot sampling right. I did it by dropping smarties onto a map and siting the sample plots where they fell. Other wise it's too easy to pick plots that are easy to clear and monitor. If random sampling says one needs to be half way up a hill than that's where it needs to be.

    The key is that it happens over time and is not a one day snapshot.

    Best of luck with it.

  4. #4
    This method is labour and time intensive as well as very innacurate!

    What type of ground is it, how many acres and why not do a head count or lamp count?

  5. #5
    I'm with Jingzy, its a method but thre are better ones to consider. Did one once with a thermal imager, WOW was that fun.

  6. #6

    Personally, I agree with jingzy and would go further and say using indirect methods such as dung counting is largely a waste of time for the average amateur with limited resources.

    The only really reliable way is to use Thermal Imaging and see what is out and about on your ground at night. I believe the DI have the appropriate equipment and you can request they do a survey on your ground; whether you want the DI poking their noses in is another matter though!

    Another option is to forget about counting deer and instead assess levels of deer damage. You need to work with the landowner and get him to quantify exactly what level of damage is acceptable or unacceptable. You need a system of measuring damage which is repeatable every year and the recording needs to be as systematic as possible.

    Essentially, if there is too much deer damage, you need to either take protective measures or increase the cull. In this system, the absolute deer numbers do not matter rather the trend of damage ~v~ counter measures.

    If you haven't read it already, I recommend "The Future For Woodland Deer" by Roger McKinley...

    Its not a sporting or stalkers book, rather one on "Deer Management" ...McKinley is a former Manager in the FC with extensive experience of Deer Management from a commercial forestry perspective...He deals at length with the counting deer ~v~assessing damage debate and comes down firmly for the later...



  7. #7
    Any new ground i get i go out with the lamp you will see more deer than you ever will in the day light(so much for them being dawn a dusk animals ) I would suggest 10 visits and in all weathers. PS DONT TAKE A RIFLE FOR FOXES OR OTHER VERMIN AT THIS TIME IT WILL ONLY UPSET THE COUNT.

    PS Don'T let the DI in at your back to do anything feck sake PETE E you do talk some crap. That's like letting a mass murderer in to your house to see if you wife and kids are OK.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by 6.5 x 55
    PS Don'T let the DI in at your back to do anything feck sake PETE E you do talk some crap.
    6.5x 55 : You should know about crap as you are full of it..

    Read the quote below or get somebody to read out for you if its easier.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete E
    whether you want the DI poking their noses in is another matter though!
    I can only assume that you as you illiterate as you are ignorant..

  9. #9

    Census counts.

    You don't mention the size of the area which can greatly influence the best method to use. A small area can alter greatly from day to day - especially when dealing with larger species which tend to be much more transient. Dung pellet counts are generally as their name suggests - a load of *****! I'm sure they have their place somewhere but they are very labour intensive and argueably inaccurate. I much prefer direct methods such as those already mentioned i.e. Lamping, Thermal imaging or just visit frequently at suitable times and keep a 'Stalkers Diary'. You will soon get a feel of what is about. You need to look at damage levels and work out what your 'Holding capacity' is. Are you going to accept a small managed number of animals or try to erradicate them all? Your ideas on management might be greatly different from those of the landowner! If you think carefully about such things and then discuss them with the landowner he will no doubt think you are knowledgeable and serious about deer management and is therefore more likely to give you the task! Do your homework and it may pay off! Good luck!

  10. #10
    Many years ago on an estate near Kalo in Denmark the Roe-deer were genetically faulty and it was decided to eliminate the resident stock and replace them with a better strain .
    Very experienced Deer men did a population assessment
    over a lengthy period of time and finally came up with their results and formulated the shooting plan.
    When TWICE the estimated population had been shot there were still some scampering about.
    Counting Roe is not a science but guesswork, the only true figures are the ones counted dead upon the ground.


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