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Thread: How much do UK deer move about

  1. #1

    How much do UK deer move about

    Just read this article on Mule Deer movement in Wyoming with an annual 150 mile migration and got me wondering do UK deer move more than we think. Fallow are noted for moving quite large distances but what about other species. Lots if comment about Roe Bucks "disappearing" at certain times of year - general assumption is that they are just lying up deep in the woods, but are they actually in the next county or country.

    Article is at Incredible Journey | Sports Afield | The Worlds Premier Hunting Adventure Magazine

  2. #2
    There's quite good data on roe movements from long term studies in Sweden and France. In general, they don't move much at all. The French study has found that less than half of bucks move more than one territory away from where they were born in their entire lives.

    Certainly I know a couple bucks who are always within acre sized patches.

  3. #3
    A few years back all the sika in one area I know just left. I'm totally convinced they went and a farmer many miles away reported the arrival of a lot of sika on his ground which might support some of them going over there.

    Everything I've read until recently indicated that sika stayed in a relatively small area especially the hinds which were hefted to a few acres, or a few 10s of acres. The stags tend to move rather further but even so they are often found to stay in a relatively small area.

    However, I've been reading a book on sika and a lot of the research was done in Japan and their deer frequently "migrate" over quite large (50km) distances despite normally being hefted to small areas. In Japan it usually happens because of deep snow but a secondary factor was lack of feeding and I suspect, in my case, that lack of feeding is the primary factor and that the deer do sometimes leave in the winter. What was also interesting is that the Japanese research reported that the date of departure could vary between the start of November and the end of January and that the deer often didn't all leave at the same time. However, the date of return was almost always in the middle of March and all the deer came back within a very short period. This almost exactly tracks what I've observed on the ground.

    Towards the spring an area I know often gets a few red deer stags though there isn't actually a resident population of reds. There are some reds in the nearby (5 - 10 miles) area and clearly the stags are occasionally heading over to visit. However, they don't stay and I've never seen a red hind. Again the info on sika is interesting in respect of this as their expansion is irruptive and the general view is that an area without a population will start seeing individual stags about 20 years before a real population becomes established.

    So, it is worth trying to get your hands on the research into deer movement for the species you are interested in and seeing how it applies to your area. It took me quite a while to find the right info but once I saw the Japanese migration research I knew that it was an almost exact fit with the pattern I was seeing on the ground though it took some thought to work it out and make it all match up.
    For self catering accommodation on the Isle of Lewis please visit:

  4. #4
    Deja vu..funny that I was also thinking exactly the same when

    watching this on youtube just a couple of nights ago.

    As caorach said it'll be interesting reading.

    Atb, Buck.
    Last edited by Uncle Buck; 16-08-2014 at 11:30.
    "let him without sin cast the first stone"

  5. #5
    Roe have territories and don't move much, except young bucks which are pushed out in spring by more mature bucks they may wander some distance before finding an area where they can settle.

    Red hinds are hefted to the area where they were born, and will usually calve in the same area as they were born in .

    Stags are a bit more mobile , will go to where they can find hinds during the rut, but again mature stags tend to rut in the same place each year, returning to their bachelor herds and traditional wintering grounds as soon as the rut is over.

    Depends what you class long distance, a red deer's range can take in several estates, the OP mentioned a distance
    of 50 kilometres 30 miles not such a huge distance really.
    Last edited by bogtrotter; 16-08-2014 at 18:26.

  6. #6
    I stalked in Staffordshire for awhile and the fallow deer there did not move far they stayed in the area. Cheers fisherman

  7. #7
    The fallow here in NZ are well known for staying in a fairly small area unless they get starved out or pushed out by hunting pressure.
    Sika in NZ have been studied by using tracking collars for a number of years. I realise that this doesn't relate directly to the OP, but it makes interesting reading all the same

  8. #8
    There are two types of movement, expansion into unoccupied territory and movement within an established range.

    I think that some deer will quickly expand into suitable unoccupied territory adjacent to their current range, roe and muntjac in particular have spread into new areas at a phenomenal rate over the past 50 years. However if they are in occupied ground I think the amount of movement reduces to something more natural and only the young bucks move significant distances when pushed out by territorial bucks. If you see a roe buck in a particular location the odds are that he'll be there at the same time the following day. Muntjac also tend to stick to an area.

    The "herd" deer such as sika, reds and fallow have different dynamics and the population is usually centred around the location of the female herd as the males might go further afield but will come back to the females for the rut. The female herds are usually fairly loyal to their general home range, which can be quite large, but I think that pressure from stalkers or poachers might prompt a wholesale move and fallow are notorious for being erratic in their pattern of movement and reaction to pressure.

    In my local area of North Wales the fallow move about a fair bit within a large but generally well defined range, you might see them in a field today and not again for a week or two, but they do not often move into completely new areas unless very pressured. There has been an increase in the local cull over the past few years, woods that were previously sanctuaries were culled and it may be coincidence but, at the same time, fallow started to appear just outside their normal range limits where they had rarely if ever been seen before.

    The rate of territorial expansion as opposed to general movement of a species is also clearly going to be higher when none of that species are present in adjacent suitable areas any increase in population results in territorial expansion and the rate of expansion of reds in East Anglia is a testament to that.

    i know least about sika but it seems that they might be more demanding on what constitutes suitable territory, less likely to move away from their home range and less likely to move long distances unless pressured, however within their defined range they can be unpredictable and seeing them one day does not mean they'll be there the next day.
    Last edited by paul k; 17-08-2014 at 10:03.

  9. #9
    I seem to remember someone on here (Orion?) having been involved with a project tracking red deer in the south west. Be good to learn more...

  10. #10
    A lot of common sense has been displayed in the replies. I agree with a lot of what Paul has said. As for Sika I find they do have specific ideals of habitat and where they have found them they can tolerate very high population densities ,especially compared to Reds , which slow down the spread to other areas. They also can move through locations without establishing a resident population only to colonise neighbouring land and remain there.

    The old mass movement of the Red Deer herds often described in historical articles and survived in place names, have become a thing of the past due to human activities, habitation and to a major degree by the dividing up of estates by miles of fences. I believe these movements were seasonal and weather and food dependant .


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