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Thread: Deer management, or just commercial hunting?

  1. #1

    Deer management, or just commercial hunting?

    To me the term deer management implies culling deer to a set objective which has been determined by "managers" monitoring the population. In many parts of the world deer managers dont even do the shooting, they leave that up to others who arent considered managers, just shooters.

    How many "deer managers" on here do property based management plans & go out & monitor the deer to establish indicies of relative & absolute abundance to establish the trends in population & the cull target?

    Some of you guys do see there is a difference I hope? I someone turns around & says "yeh, I shoot every deer I see" no problems, but you are just shooting. Unless you are monitoring the population trends properly its a bit disengenious to call it management, its just shooting, & from what I see here a lot of it is commercial shooting, which IMO should be kept very seperate & distant from those who set the actual cull targets.

    There are many things about the UK system I like, small acres access, excellent training & safety, utilising & valuing the carcase. However, commercial hunting, is commercial hunting, why do some call it management, when it is just commercial hunting?
    "Men Who Stare at Deer."

  2. #2
    IMO you can not have a successful commercial hunting outfit without managing your deer.
    If, as you say you just go out and shoot deer then very soon you will destroy any quality you may have on your grounds.
    However you must remember that deer seem to be treated differently in the UK than most of the other parts of the world. In the UK they are seen mainly as a pest species and not a naturally renewable asset.
    As such, the landowner dictates how many are shot and if he says "shoot them all" then you are obliged to shoot them all.
    Is that management, well yes it is. It may not be the sort of management that you like but that is the way it is in this country.
    If you are lucky enough to have some land that you are allowed to control in a way that you see fit then it comes down to your own objectives. Even then if you decide to shoot all of the or bring some on for a better trophy quality then you are 'managing' the deer. After all, they are either managed or they are not.
    If you have 20 acres in the middle of a large un-shot wood then what you do will have an effect on the deer in that wood. No matter what the size of your land holding, you are in some way 'managing' the land.
    'Trends in population' mean very little if your cull target is 'if it's brown it's down'. Likewise why would you monitor a population if your objective is to have the lowest population possible? In fact I'd go as far as to say that the only people who really monitor populations closely are those seeking to significantly reduce them.

    I suspect your question really needs to be 'Why are deer so poorly looked on in the UK?'

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by sharkey View Post
    How many "deer managers" on here do property based management plans & go out & monitor the deer to establish indicies of relative & absolute abundance to establish the trends in population & the cull target?
    I think there has been a realisation over recent years, that managing deer by numbers is not always a realistic option. Sure, it can work in some more open areas where there are a single species, but where we have smaller denser areas with maybe as many as 5 species present, it becomes a bit more of a challenge!
    This is why some of us have moved towards a more realistic approach. We do not monitor the actual deer numbers per se, but the impact that they are having on the environment. This often has to be broken down into individual species as well. Deer numbers are actually irrelevant.
    By monitoring the impact, we can then establish whether or not our efforts to 'manage' deer are sufficient.
    How we measure deer impact will depend greatly upon the type of environment and the species of deer present. The process is dynamic and subjective, relying on the same person monitoring the same area at the same time each year. This gives us a benchmark to begin with, followed by a comparison over subsequent years. It is very interesting to use features such as deer exclosures to give direct comparison either side. However, consideration must also be given to other species which can cause damage which may be attributed to deer! Areas where we exclude Hares and Rabbits can often show a marked difference to those where we just exclude deer.
    I suppose we are still effectively measuring trends in population, but we are not trying to hit specific cull targets. We are merely increasing or decreasing the cull to reflect impact. Timing often plays as big a part of this as overall numbers culled! Hitting specific species at the right time of year can be critical to success. For instance, hitting a herd of Fallow in early November before they have chance to strip a woodland bare over the harsh winter months, or reducing muntjac numbers to as low as possible before the rare orchids and oxlips come into bloom.
    This tends to be a fairly robust style of management which often requires a 'shoot on sight in season' approach for some species. I was concerned how this might affect the population dynamics, but with some very invasive species such as muntjac and fallow, it is the only effective method, and subsequent analysis of animals culled often shows almost a perfect cull plan with regards to age class banding.
    So there may be some folk shooting every deer they see on instruction from woodland managers or indeed land owners, but it may well be based on impact rather than deer numbers or specific cull targets?
    MS

  4. #4
    Some very good observations already made on UK deer management. What you also have to consider is the pattern of land ownership here makes it difficult to carry out the kind of management based on sex and age ratios to bring about a desired population for the ground. What we have in most of the uk is a patchwork of small land ownership with deer populations spread across a number of them. Fallow particularly will range over several different land ownerships and each of them may have different management objectives. So as has been said deer impact oftern drives the cull plan. At best on the larger land ownerships you can improve the core habitat or leave mineral supplements coupled with careful selection of cull individuals but the margins will always be a state of fluxe as the deer move from one management objective to another. Deer management groups have been set up to try and harmonise a wider areas cull planning and objectives but it can never account for all the land as it relies on the landowner's and there own agenda.
    The uk is a complex environment were land management and ownership.is concerned but I believe it's managed and that will take many forms.
    Last edited by Cris; 22-07-2016 at 07:41.

  5. #5
    +1 you cannot manage population of deer by selective culling unless you have control of a large enough area, even working within groups can be difficult if others are working towards there own agenda, ( or financial needs) .

  6. #6
    My impression is that 'deer manager' is just a phrase that has appeared as a bit of re-branding.

    The general public in the UK is very sqeamish about hunting, and so there's pressure to find the least offensive way to describe it. The phrase 'deer manager' does two things: it does not make the hunting/killing part explicit, and it provides implicit justification for the activity.

    It is just a euphemism, like all the other weasel phrases out there ('quantitative easing', 'refuse disposal operative', etc etc).

  7. #7
    When you are talking about the amount of money involved on estate management in respect of deerstalking I find it difficult to believe that the prime motivation is deer welfare.

  8. #8
    Although I don't have anything like the experience of many on this forum, the impression I have gained is that as said above, the phrase is used to show/imply that there is method and it's not just shoot everything seen (nothing wrong with that if appropriate to the location landowners wishes, and with stalking being so expensive, and you may not have the let next year or in two years time for all you know, I can completely see why a stalker might want to just make sure he takes any legal in season deer home in reality) - the phrase might also be helpful in showing that there is a lot more to what we do than just "shooting things" (if you ask most people they would have no idea what DSC involves for example or how fanatical most of us are about taking humane shots and that most of us actually care a lot about deer welfare - so how do we project this?) but equally, with about two exceptions I know the rest of the people I know who stalk really just shoot what deer they see that is in season.... but would still tell you they "manage" the deer - which is of course perfectly true if the objective is just lowering the numbers as far as they can. Also, if they can only get out at weekends or whatever, with the best will in the world it is difficult to really know what's going on on the ground if it's a large area, and if it's not a large area, what is going on around you could nullify any attempt of yours to "manage" things. The other two I know do population monitoring, detailed cull plans and so on as do I - but we have the ability to do so because it is our full time jobs, and we cover large areas, even though we actually have different overall objectives as we work for 3 different organisations.
    Last edited by Sylvanius; 23-07-2016 at 09:23.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Monkey Spanker View Post
    I think there has been a realisation over recent years, that managing deer by numbers is not always a realistic option. Sure, it can work in some more open areas where there are a single species, but where we have smaller denser areas with maybe as many as 5 species present, it becomes a bit more of a challenge!
    This is why some of us have moved towards a more realistic approach. We do not monitor the actual deer numbers per se, but the impact that they are having on the environment. This often has to be broken down into individual species as well. Deer numbers are actually irrelevant.
    By monitoring the impact, we can then establish whether or not our efforts to 'manage' deer are sufficient.
    How we measure deer impact will depend greatly upon the type of environment and the species of deer present. The process is dynamic and subjective, relying on the same person monitoring the same area at the same time each year. This gives us a benchmark to begin with, followed by a comparison over subsequent years. It is very interesting to use features such as deer exclosures to give direct comparison either side. However, consideration must also be given to other species which can cause damage which may be attributed to deer! Areas where we exclude Hares and Rabbits can often show a marked difference to those where we just exclude deer.
    I suppose we are still effectively measuring trends in population, but we are not trying to hit specific cull targets. We are merely increasing or decreasing the cull to reflect impact. Timing often plays as big a part of this as overall numbers culled! Hitting specific species at the right time of year can be critical to success. For instance, hitting a herd of Fallow in early November before they have chance to strip a woodland bare over the harsh winter months, or reducing muntjac numbers to as low as possible before the rare orchids and oxlips come into bloom.
    This tends to be a fairly robust style of management which often requires a 'shoot on sight in season' approach for some species. I was concerned how this might affect the population dynamics, but with some very invasive species such as muntjac and fallow, it is the only effective method, and subsequent analysis of animals culled often shows almost a perfect cull plan with regards to age class banding.
    So there may be some folk shooting every deer they see on instruction from woodland managers or indeed land owners, but it may well be based on impact rather than deer numbers or specific cull targets?
    MS
    This is monitoring & management. I guess it could be best described as "an indicies of relative abundance", based on damage. I'm sure in these areas all the culls are recorded & applying this known figure & the corresponding change to the lesser amount of damage, an indicies of "absolute abundance" could easily be extablished using the change in ratio method. My guess is that this would be happening, but for whatever reason those creating the indices may not want to release the figures.
    "Men Who Stare at Deer."

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Sylvanius View Post
    Although I don't have anything like the experience of many on this forum, the impression I have gained is that as said above, the phrase is used to show/imply that there is method and it's not just shoot everything seen (nothing wrong with that if appropriate to the location landowners wishes, and with stalking being so expensive, and you may not have the let next year or in two years time for all you know, I can completely see why a stalker might want to just make sure he takes any legal in season deer home in reality) - the phrase might also be helpful in showing that there is a lot more to what we do than just "shooting things" (if you ask most people they would have no idea what DSC involves for example or how fanatical most of us are about taking humane shots and that most of us actually care a lot about deer welfare - so how do we project this?) but equally, with about two exceptions I know the rest of the people I know who stalk really just shoot what deer they see that is in season.... but would still tell you they "manage" the deer - which is of course perfectly true if the objective is just lowering the numbers as far as they can. Also, if they can only get out at weekends or whatever, with the best will in the world it is difficult to really know what's going on on the ground if it's a large area, and if it's not a large area, what is going on around you could nullify any attempt of yours to "manage" things. The other two I know do population monitoring, detailed cull plans and so on as do I - but we have the ability to do so because it is our full time jobs, and we cover large areas, even though we actually have different overall objectives as we work for 3 different organisations.
    The phenomenon you are describing is called "The tragedy of the commons". Its when people exercise their freedom & take an animal which they dont really need too, & act out of their imediate self interest, not others interests, not their own long term interests or the resources best interest. This is why we have to have bag limits & seasons on some fish & animals, to prevent the tragedy of the commons.

    It would be nice to hear about how you monitor the deer population?
    "Men Who Stare at Deer."

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