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Thread: Massive herd of Red Deer

  1. #1

    Massive herd of Red Deer

    This popped up on FB, anyone care to estimate numbers? You can't even see the whole herd. Do Reds normally form large herds like this in the Highlands?

  2. #2
    Id say your seeing 3-400 hundred in the footage, herd looks like it could be be bigger though. Not that unusual a sight in some places, probably a combination of the mild weather and the fact its the middle of the hind season so theyll be getting pushed around a lot. Going by the amount of calves meewing theyve been harassed a bit or theres a lot of orphans. Wouldnt be easy pairing a calf to its mother if their going about in groups like that though.

  3. #3
    I was stalking high up in Glenshee at the end of August 2007 and the wind had changed direction the day before, bringing in stags from the neighbouring estates in such numbers that they looked like soldier ants on the march. The Stalker (from Invercauld Estate) told me to make the most of the spectacle, I'd probably see nothing like it ever again. From our vantage point we could see four or five seperate herds scattered around on distant tops - each numbering 200 - 300 animals ! When we crawled in to one herd they were packed together so tightly we lay there for half an hour waiting to get a clear shot at just one without harming any others. With an aching neck, I finally fired, - and my stag turned out to have just one antler, which came as a surprise and disappointment to me, but probably not to the Stalker ! A memorable experience. I don't know if they're still to be found in such huge numbers.

  4. #4
    I've only just read the text with the video, and seen that it's the same place that I was describing ! - Thought it looked remarkably similar. - It's been a long day !

  5. #5
    Fairly typical of what happens to the deer when there are many access takers disturbing them out of their chosen harbours, this could be formed all from different estates, certainly hillsides, their natural reaction to disturbance by hillwalking parties is to head for higher ground, until that runs out; when undisturbed, they would fragment and return to their respective hefts. If you read the history books, instances of such deliberate gatherings in the past (the 'tainchel') involved large numbers of menfolk acting in concert to gather up the deer from large districts and drive them to a strategic place or point where they could be shot at by bow or crude weapon.

    You can see from the video that they are on the move, as opposed to all feeding or at rest. Many folk are on the hills on fine winter days nowadays, often accompanied by dogs, instinctively viewed as the wolf by the deer; of course it is the 'right' of these people to take their access, pot-licker/s and all, but I wonder whether they realise the impact of their wanderings on both the fauna and the flora, much less the welfare of the deer when conditions are not quite so benign; I've often seen them donning the kit and heading off when no otherwise intelligent person would consider such a decision as being prudent, but everyone has their own agenda, and if one has been cooped up in an office all week, planned to bag this or that Munro, Corbett, Graham or other lofty air or remote peak, then they are not going to be deterred by a wee bit inclement weather, after all, they know they can rely on the rescue team to get them out of any scrape they themselves have freely put themselves into. As for the deer - they have 'no business' being there, they are a woodland animal, aren't they?

  6. #6

  7. #7
    Used to see many hundreds of red stags at Drumochter Pass on the A9 ... for many years they'd gather there & then a few years ago lots were shot. No idea how many remain, but some were seen there in late November this year.
    Blaser K95 Luxus Kipplaufbüchse .25-06Rem. Schmidt & Bender 8x56, 110gn Nosler Accubond = Game Over!

  8. #8
    There are often big herds like that in Glenshee, and it seems to be more to do with heavy snowfall on the tops, pushing them downhill toward accessible food. You see them building up along the A93 below the ski centre. I stalk ground further down the valley, and for the last few years we've even started getting fairly large herds (100-200) appearing there from Feb-May. Very clearly drawn to the pasture areas, and vanish when the snow starts to clear higher up.

    More generally, seasonal aggregations are common across most species of ungulates that live in habitats with marked changes in resource availability. It MIGHT have a bit to do with disturbance, but I doubt that's the major driving factor. With regard to the idea that dog walkers/hikers etc are responsible, I think that's even less likely. The deer on that part of the Highlands are very used to people - check the map, and you'll see how close that is to the ski area. In my experience, they're very good at telling the difference between innocuous hikers and dangerous stalkers. Again, on the ground I stalk further down the valley, the herds will more or less completely ignore hikers - maybe a few heads popping up to keep an eye on them, but certainly no flight. But start creeping or crouching, leave the main paths, or wear green rather than bright colours, and they vanish.

  9. #9
    Quite, but I am unsure whether 'responsibly' manned dogs (and I've seen quite a few running free on the hill, even at nesting time) would be viewed by deer with any less of the same instinctive suspicion as the wolf itself. Lucky indeed are the areas where the dogs are under close control. Research has shown that birds will abandon nests if disturbed at critical times, even though they have not been put to actual flight. Of course, we aren't talking about ground nesting birds in this instance.

  10. #10
    I've just done a bit of digging, and it turns out I am probably completely wrong.

    Creag Leacach is just to the West of Caenlochan, which has been subject to a ferocious Section 7 cull. I think the recent SNH report quotes a scarcely believable 3,000+ shot in the area over the last 3 years - but I will need to find the actual figures.

    Under that kind of pressure, then I can easily believe that they might start to bunch up like that. I showed the video to a colleague who has worked with red deer for 30+ years, and she was horrified, saying this is almost certainly the product of serious disturbance, and that with relatively little snow on the ground, they should be still dispersed. She also pointed out a lame hind at 0.45 secs, possibly carrying a shot.
    Last edited by Mungo; 23-12-2016 at 13:09.

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