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Thread: Deer numbers per acre of land

  1. #1

    Deer numbers per acre of land

    Hi guys how do you work out the correct numbers of deer that should populate a certain area for each species? It's something that I find hard to understand how deer management works and I know it must differ based on the type of land you have.

    Is there a general number of say x amount of muntjac, roe, fallow, etc, per acre?

    One reason I ask is that I have been granted to shoot over 2000 acres of newly acquired farmland that has not been shot for over a year and the numbers of rabbit, pigeon, etc are very high and I'm guessing muntys and CWD will be present in numbers too.

    It may be an ideal area of land for me to learn to stalk over for a while before actually taking a shot at any deer,


  2. #2
    hi stratts be very carefull you are a lucky lad to get this land offer,there is some people out there that will try to get in behind your back. HOPE YOU HAVE LOTS OF GOOD YEARS SHOOTING ON IT

  3. #3


    Although I can't give you a general number/acre as such I'm sure there is something out there.

    The best thing you can do is get out and get to know the ground, go out at first and last light walking the dog forinstance and start to count. If it's anything like any where I shoot you'll soon become fairly familiar with each family group this time of year and where they are likely to be/their usual haunts. A Roe Doe will typically hold a area of approximately 1/2Km2 and normally have twins one doe and one buck which will still be relatively close to the mother just now. You can soon see from the level of reproduction how annual population growth will go. Once you get an idea of whats kicking about I think you will get a feel for the right level of deer to be there. If there is a lot of damage to young tree's, overgrazing and heavy amounts of droppings then you'll probably have to reduce the numbers significantly. I read some where not to long ago that with Roe you should attempt to shoot 60% of the population p/a. Seems a bit high to me but I guess this will take into account the deer you are not seeing. I struggle to see bucks this time of year so I have no idea how many are kicking about on any of my turf but I'm pretty sure about the Doe's, come the late spring/early summer though then the Buck are a doddle to spot but not so easy to count as a good few will move a good distance to find a patch to call his own. I've read that they can wander upto 20Km.

    As for Reds, all mine are transient on pasture so it's 1, 2 miss a few (quiet a a few)... No real way to have a definitive plan, the neighbouring estates can because they can have better idea of general numbers due to their considerably bigger land mass. Most the farmers my way though just want them all shot.

    How about giveing NE a call or who ever it is south of the border that would look after deer and ask for an answer?

    Last edited by aliS; 03-02-2012 at 13:52.

  4. #4
    Thanks guys I know I've been very lucky I just wandered up to the farm, spoke to the manager and he granted me 1000 acres there and these 2000 acres a few days later!! There will be 4 shooters in total, me and my mate, the farm manager who granted the land and a retired chap he knows who shoots occasionally.

    It's only been 2 weeks since we met so am yet to find out the experience the other guys have but it would be nice to be able to learn from them too!

    Needless to say I'm looking forward to learning the land and seeing what is about.

    Do you mean Natural England mate?

  5. #5
    Yeah but I don't know if they are the right people... In scotland SNH (who are their equivelant) may give you some advice but most of the time I think they are mostly intrested in the big players. Maybe worth a shot though.

    I suppose you've also got to ask yourself what are you trying to acheive? Are you aiming to just maintain a health balance the way it is, reduce numbers due to overgrazing, improve the quality of the deer or just have a nice place to stalk and shoot the odd deer. My guess is the farm manager will have a good idea unless of course he thinks 'shoot 'em all!'.

    Just enjoy it I suppose and don't go to OTT.

  6. #6
    Have a read of the Deer Initiatives Best Practice Guides. There's plenty of info in there on doing a survey of Deer numbers...

    f the land owner is seeing a lot of animals and wants the numbers down start removing some straight away and provide some venison etc for the land owner to enjoy. When out stalking you'll soon pick up an idea of how many beasties are about!!
    There's no such thing as a stupid question.

  7. #7
    Management is not so much about how many deer per acre but how many deer per acre your ground can sustain without creating a negative impact. What most landowners do not want is excessive crop/tree damage. What you may have to find out for yourself is what negative impact the deer on your ground is having on say RTAs. Spending time walking the ground looking for signs of deer and just sitting watching for deer will give you a idea of what deer are present. Talk with the farm manager re any problems re crop damage, where he has seen deer. What you are trying to do is build up a picture of your ground. Your deer or some of them may be transient giving problems at certain times. The better the habitat and food sources the more deer can be sustained per acre but I would think the farm manager would not want this to include his crops.

  8. #8
    Thanks for the info guys I think it will be a learning curve for all of us because this farmland is newly acquired by the farmer too. I don't think they are too sure themselves what is about and what damage is being caused. I do know there a alot of pigeons and bunnies there because he's asked specifically to target those 1st!

  9. #9
    Be careful of various formal deer count methods as, from what I can see from the science, you might as well guess. One source I saw said that deer counts are usually wrong by a factor of between 8 and 16!

    Locally an estate had a number of red deer in a small fenced area with high fences so nothing could come in or out. They were going to plant the area with trees and commissioned a count with a view to shooting all the deer. Last I heard they had shot about 4 times the number of deer that the count had determined were in the area and they were still shooting them. These are big, and therefore relatively easily seen, deer in a very small and enclosed area.

    The other thing to consider is that deer might hold on land in high numbers but feed elsewhere. I have access to a very small area of land that holds a seemingly amazing number of deer but I'm certain that there is no way they are all feeding on the small area of ground. So, you might find that deer move on, or off, your ground to feed or move on, or off, at different times of the year. I think this somewhat clouds the issue when it comes to deciding how many are present on your ground.

    Based on all of this I hold formal deer counts in fairly low regard and I question their importance unless you actually manage a huge area of ground where the deer are present on some part of the ground at all times and don't stray much outside the area you manage. As others have said an experience eye and someone who is on the ground often at all times of the night and day and across all seasons can probably give a better assessment of deer numbers and the health and movements of the population than any formal counting method.

  10. #10
    I think you are spot on the Caorach with your views of the formal meathods of counting in that they would appear to mainly have their application on ground of significant size. Certainly they best way is to get to know your groudn and at the end of the day 2000 acres may sound a lot but it is amazing how quick you can get to know it.

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