With this spell of prolonged bad weather I remember a meeting I attended once at which a "learned" professor stated that the overpopulation of red deer on some highland estates could be righted by the simple banning of artificial feeding of wild deer. The deer ,he said, would very quickly reach a population level that the land could support and the burden of too many mouths on the ground would be solved.
You can imagine that this stirred up a very heated debate and found little support in the room. Most keepers said that without feeding they would lose too many hinds therefore be unable to keep and replenish enough mature stags for visitors so a lot of estates would find it hard economically and keepers would be laid-off.
This is not a new arguement as I have an excellent book on red deer written by a very clever man in 1922. In it he states that the three enemies of having good quality trophy heads (that is what they aimed for in those days) was not shooting enough hinds,fencing and feeding. He went on to explain why and very well thought out were his arguements.
But now with large-scale commercial forestry, the expansion of the national sheep flock and the shrinkage and break-up of many large estates do we have the luxury of not feeding. The great deer migrations from East to West and down into the Glen bottoms have due to fencing been consigned to history. No-one now tolerates bands of visiting deer and even in my short tenure of this ground I have seem miles of fencing going up and "wandering" deer killed in their hundreds.
This year I took the decision to put out feedblocks. Yes it has been exceptionally bad weather and I may not do it another year but already I have noticed a change. Provided the blocks are sited in a sheltered,quiet area and are strung off the ground to prevent badgers crapping all over them , the deer stay near the blocks and dont waste energy raking around for what little they can dig for. I now have a better idea than before of what numbers I have in the woods and have seen some old favorites (stags) I thought I had lost. All good so far.
My neighbors have always fed and to some extent are encouraging me to carry on. I will see how things pan out.
What do you all think? David