Accurate Deer count?

tartinjock

Distinguished Member
#1
What is the way to work this out, I am helping on a bit of ground but on an "admin" basis only, hoping to get the stalking on it if I prove my compatence on it.....

I've already ID'd the species on the ground, I am also spotting the droppings from the species but want to know how to do the "science" bit and work out numbers from it....What is the method? What size area x how many turds = deer?

I fully understand that this is not a 100% accurate method but will give some sort of indication to numbers on the ground, therefor cull numbers required.

Cheers

TJ
 

Roebuck270

Well-Known Member
#2
Hi TJ

Get yourself a copy of the Forestry commissions bulletin 128 titled Estimating deer abundance in woodlands: the combination plot technique.

Its intence but full of information. :) :)
 

snowstorm

Well-Known Member
#3
Hi Stu

You can get started here :

http://www.dcs.gov.uk/BestPractice/planning_dung.aspx

But you need to be detailed and systematic in what you do, and be able to defend the conclusions to which you come. It will take numerous visits over a long period to get the answer. The link above talks about minumum 6 plots for each habitat type/area of 50-200 m2 each. If you have more than one habitat or area type then you need to do that many plots as a minimum for each. You need to mark/clear each pellet group you find!!

Don't fall into the trap of having a quick walkabout for an hour and eyeballing dung, tree damage etc then having a stab at the numbers - the key is getting your plot sampling right. I did it by dropping smarties onto a map and siting the sample plots where they fell. Other wise it's too easy to pick plots that are easy to clear and monitor. If random sampling says one needs to be half way up a hill than that's where it needs to be.

The key is that it happens over time and is not a one day snapshot.

Best of luck with it.
 

jingzy

Account Suspended
#4
This method is labour and time intensive as well as very innacurate!

What type of ground is it, how many acres and why not do a head count or lamp count?
 

Pete E

Well-Known Member
#6
tartinjock,

Personally, I agree with jingzy and would go further and say using indirect methods such as dung counting is largely a waste of time for the average amateur with limited resources.

The only really reliable way is to use Thermal Imaging and see what is out and about on your ground at night. I believe the DI have the appropriate equipment and you can request they do a survey on your ground; whether you want the DI poking their noses in is another matter though! ;)

Another option is to forget about counting deer and instead assess levels of deer damage. You need to work with the landowner and get him to quantify exactly what level of damage is acceptable or unacceptable. You need a system of measuring damage which is repeatable every year and the recording needs to be as systematic as possible.

Essentially, if there is too much deer damage, you need to either take protective measures or increase the cull. In this system, the absolute deer numbers do not matter rather the trend of damage ~v~ counter measures.

If you haven't read it already, I recommend "The Future For Woodland Deer" by Roger McKinley...

Its not a sporting or stalkers book, rather one on "Deer Management" ...McKinley is a former Manager in the FC with extensive experience of Deer Management from a commercial forestry perspective...He deals at length with the counting deer ~v~assessing damage debate and comes down firmly for the later...

Regards,

Peter
 
D

Davie

Guest
#7
Any new ground i get i go out with the lamp you will see more deer than you ever will in the day light(so much for them being dawn a dusk animals ) I would suggest 10 visits and in all weathers. PS DONT TAKE A RIFLE FOR FOXES OR OTHER VERMIN AT THIS TIME IT WILL ONLY UPSET THE COUNT. ;)

PS Don'T let the DI in at your back to do anything feck sake PETE E you do talk some crap. That's like letting a mass murderer in to your house to see if you wife and kids are OK. :eek: :eek:
 

Pete E

Well-Known Member
#8
6.5 x 55 said:
PS Don'T let the DI in at your back to do anything feck sake PETE E you do talk some crap.
6.5x 55 : You should know about crap as you are full of it..

Read the quote below or get somebody to read out for you if its easier.

Pete E said:
whether you want the DI poking their noses in is another matter though! ;)
I can only assume that you as you illiterate as you are ignorant..
 

Monkey Spanker

Well-Known Member
#9
Census counts.

You don't mention the size of the area which can greatly influence the best method to use. A small area can alter greatly from day to day - especially when dealing with larger species which tend to be much more transient. Dung pellet counts are generally as their name suggests - a load of shite! :rolleyes: I'm sure they have their place somewhere but they are very labour intensive and argueably inaccurate. I much prefer direct methods such as those already mentioned i.e. Lamping, Thermal imaging or just visit frequently at suitable times and keep a 'Stalkers Diary'. You will soon get a feel of what is about. You need to look at damage levels and work out what your 'Holding capacity' is. Are you going to accept a small managed number of animals or try to erradicate them all? Your ideas on management might be greatly different from those of the landowner! If you think carefully about such things and then discuss them with the landowner he will no doubt think you are knowledgeable and serious about deer management and is therefore more likely to give you the task! Do your homework and it may pay off! Good luck! :)
 

stag1933

Well-Known Member
#10
Many years ago on an estate near Kalo in Denmark the Roe-deer were genetically faulty and it was decided to eliminate the resident stock and replace them with a better strain .
Very experienced Deer men did a population assessment
over a lengthy period of time and finally came up with their results and formulated the shooting plan.
When TWICE the estimated population had been shot there were still some scampering about.
Counting Roe is not a science but guesswork, the only true figures are the ones counted dead upon the ground.

HWH.
 
D

Davie

Guest
#11
QUOTE PETE EI can only assume that you as you illiterate as you are ignorant..

HA i might be dyslexic that's a fact Pete but i have never shot a deer and rolled it in to a ditch because it smelled bad .Ill bet your mates at ST HUBERT would love to here that story mate so lets not go down the ethical road.
Now lets get back to your post why in gods name would you even mention the DI in a post were some one wants to do there own deer management. THEY ARE NOT THERE TO HELP ONLY TO WIPE OUT DEER FOR PROFIT ;)
 

scotspine

Well-Known Member
#12
Tartanjock

I reckon that the damage assessment method is the way to go,unless the levels of damage are acceptable of course! I look after woodlands so the wee trees are first priority ,followed by the ground vegetation.Once trees are established then deer numbers can be increased depending on the objectives of the landlord. Things get tricky when the management of sensitive sites overlaps with sporting interests though!
 

ReneZ

Well-Known Member
#13
Interesting thread as this will be on the mind of a lot of newbies like myself. What options do you have and how trustworthy is the info obtained. Keep it coming! Cheers, Rene.
 

Pete E

Well-Known Member
#14
6.5 x 55 said:
QUOTE PETE EI can only assume that you as you illiterate as you are ignorant..

HA i might be dyslexic that's a fact Pete but i have never shot a deer and rolled it in to a ditch because it smelled bad .Ill bet your mates at ST HUBERT would love to here that story mate so lets not go down the ethical road.
Now lets get back to your post why in gods name would you even mention the DI in a post were some one wants to do there own deer management. THEY ARE NOT THERE TO HELP ONLY TO WIPE OUT DEER FOR PROFIT ;)
Don't let your Halo slip there! :rolleyes:

And I've never defended the DI, but regardless, the DI supposedly have the TI kit available for surveys...

I know of someone who used the facility with apparently interesting results and no untoward come-backs from the DI. Having said that, the DI certainly don't have a good reputation with stalkers, so as always its up to the person concerned to make their mind up if its worth the risk of getting them involved.
 

Pete E

Well-Known Member
#15
scotspine said:
Tartanjock

I reckon that the damage assessment method is the way to go,unless the levels of damage are acceptable of course! I look after woodlands so the wee trees are first priority ,followed by the ground vegetation.Once trees are established then deer numbers can be increased depending on the objectives of the landlord. Things get tricky when the management of sensitive sites overlaps with sporting interests though!
scotspine,

How does that work in practice? Do you fence off an number of small plots to act as "controls" or do up sample larger areas looking for things like leader damage?

Regards,

Peter
 

Monkey Spanker

Well-Known Member
#16
300wsm said:
I know a man who did a Fallow Population census on a fenced area including at one piont using TI.

He reckoned he could cull out the observed population in a year.

Three years later there are still Fallow there!
His census was accurate though despite the rather cheap TI equipment :D When he gets more time he will finish the job - honest! :oops: :lol:
 

tartinjock

Distinguished Member
#18
Cheers Everyone for the input, I will go out with a lamp and a Night Sight and see how i get on, the ground is 1000ish Acres, heavily wooded in areas, there are several open areas but very wet under foot. There are also some natural wooded areas on the ground but these are small.

So far on the ground I have found several of the "Deer Highways", Sika Wallows etc, there is some damage on trees but not substantual, I'm sespecting the Roe have done it due to the height level of it.

I plan to try and get into the dence wood over crimbo, don't know how yet???? I want to see if there is substantual damage in there and also to see if there are more sheltered areas within them. Arial pictures up here ane not that good in the sparcly populated areas so they are not a good reference.

Last 3 outings I have seen 19 Deer, Roe,Sika and Red, the Roe are most common followed by the Sika.

I will see how it goes, cheers again for the thoughts.

TJ
 

snowstorm

Well-Known Member
#19
TJ, Multipmap gives a good picture, did you try that?

That is a huge area to survey. Remember the benefit of incorporating dung counts is that it's the only method where you can set your own control/baseline back to zero.

If you at least try it, then to the owners it will mark you out (not only by smell!) but by effort, as wanting to at least have a stab at doing it well. Everyone has a bit of a mooch and an estimate, but as I recall you are trying to demonstarte your competence to the owners, and that is one of the valid methods used. The owners may want to know why you aren't using it as a method, so if you don't, then have some evidence as to why.

Sometimes there are no easy answers, just smelly ones.

Good luck.
 

scotspine

Well-Known Member
#20
PeteE

Bugger….I knew someone would ask!

Well, if you are hoping to establish a commercial crop of trees or if the woodland is receiving government grants I would advise the use of a deer fence and regular surveillance…it gets results. Go for zero tolerance until the trees are established.

If fencing not done then go for zero tolerance but you will have to step up the surveillance. Plus go for a significant drop in the population before the trees are planted.

Not scientific but it’s better than the suck it and see approach whereby a number of deer are culled then the crop inspected only to find out that the cull wasn’t hard enough. All you get is a poor crop and an expensive maintenance program.

In commercial conifer crops I would do a count of damaged tree leaders and if more than say 20% compromised then I would be concerned.

Once the crop is established (the sooner the better) then there are a number of more scientific ways to assess damage/deer numbers but again I would suggest you simply look at the trees and ground vegetation. Apply common sense…if there is significant fraying/plucking/browsing of trees then you have too many deer. If the vegetation is cropped short and flowers thin on the ground then consider a higher cull rate. Heavy tracking and soil erosion can also be down to an over supply of deer.

Note that my experience is limited to Highland Scotland but the principles are the same elsewhere. I guess more fertile ground will hold more deer before things go wrong.

Woodland need deer but not during the establishment phase and I’m afraid that on balance the “right” number of deer on any bit of ground is usually determined by the landowner influenced by the various government bodies, sporting tenants, foresters and so on. If you are under no pressure to manage the environment then I suppose you should just keep the herd in good nick and avoid overcrowding. I’m a forester so I’m biased toward trees and vegetation and like to see a healthy habitat and that usually means keeping numbers down at the lower end of the “density” scale
 

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