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Thread: Deer behaviour questions (red and roe)

  1. #1

    Deer behaviour questions (red and roe)

    So, here are a couple of questions about deer behaviour, stemming from two things that puzzled me over the last season... plus my guesses (never know, I might have hit the mark). Would be very interested to hear what people think.

    1. Roe - why do they sometimes bark when they spot you and sometimes just dash off? This has actually puzzled me for a while. My feeling has been that they bark when you get closer and closer and then they suddenly work out it's a human and he's sneaked right up on them, whereas they just dash off without barking when they don't know what the hell you are but you suddenly appeared and they need to run smartish.

    2. Red - are hinds and young scared of foxes? Because I was getting myself ready to take one or two from a large herd when they all started running. This was at the forest edge across a clearing - there is no way they could have smelt or seen or heard me (I was down-wind, it was blowing strong, I was motionless, in a bush - they weren't even looking my way). Then a couple of roe came bouncing out of the forest too. I spotted something slinking along - couldn't quite make it out - and heard a fox call a couple of mins later. Could a fox have prompted them to run!?

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts!

  2. #2
    My guess would be that Roe bark when they know there are others about and are giving a general heads up to their mates. They don't bark when they know they are alone or that they are aware that others in the immediate vicinity are already reacting, so don't need an audible warning. As for the Reds, while they may not have winded or heard you, they may well have been responding to the movement of the Roe. As for Roe reaction to fox, the only time I've seen it she wasn't running away, she was definitely incoming with the obvious intention of kicking the living daylights out of it - and Charles clearly wasn't up for the fight ...

  3. #3
    Interesting. Yes, now I think about it, the reds were running in front of the roe, and looking back at them. And cheers for the insight re. roe barking - I never thought that there may be more about. Suspecting that will make a difference to my stalking - thanks!

  4. #4
    Seems to me a lot of roe that do bark are mature does and bucks which are more territorial than the others around.

  5. #5
    It's a couple of years ago, but my Dad was driving me back from stalking in a wood and we were spying as we went across a moor. As I spied down towards a river, I saw a couple of dozen hinds and calves and then I saw a fox. The group of hinds pursued the fox and it made off into the cover.



  6. #6
    So it actually seems that both red and roe will go for a fox... I never know that. I don't think that it was due to a fox that the herd moved then. Could have been something else in further away in the forest - person perhaps, or (this was in Slovakia) boar, maybe. As for the roe barking, I think that next time I will endeavour to see if there are more about or not. The last time this happened was only last week, a doe. She's a noisy one.

  7. #7
    Barking is as much an alarm call as it is territorial
    if they are confident they will often bark, i.e. if they wind, hear you first - if its plain sight I find roe will often run and then you may hear them barking as they go

    Deer get spooked by the weirdest things but a running deer of any species will move most deer on
    I watched a solitary hind clear a hillside for about 10 miles in under 3 mins just be bolting through it!
    bloody magpies and pigeons lifting in woods is the bane of my woodland stalking life!

    be surprised if they were "scared" of foxes though

  8. #8
    If you watch when roe run away barking their white hair on their cordial patch on the rumps will be up as well to warn others

  9. #9
    Couple of weeks back I was stalking a woodland strip with some meadow up wind of me and a buck kept calling sounding more like a crow than anything else. As I got further along he stopped, I assume he lost my wind or he had gone. I got to the end of the strip and could access the meadows and he was still there.
    I waited several minutes for him to settle down as he was very alert before I could get out of cover and then waited to get a nice broad side shot, which I did, so one in the bag.

    About an hour or so latter that morning I shot another five or six hundred yards from were I got the first one. So all the calling from the first buck and then the shot etc didn't clear the area

  10. #10
    my experience would suggest that a fox spooked by a stalk will clear the reds it passes but a fox can wander through a herd with not much reaction except when there are couched new calves then hinds react aggressively. I suspect deer are aware of the likely cause of a bolting fox the same as blowing sheep and it's a fair indication that humans are about.

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