Can you reassure a beginner?


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Ok chaps - it was perhaps not the best thing to do at this time of night - but I've just re-read the BDS training manual section relating to diseases and complaints etc. in deer, in preparation for my DSC1 course next month.

I now feel somewhat inclined never to go near another deer, ever again, for fear of missing something and giving myself Lyme disease or TB etc. I realise that might make me something of a hypochondriac and I also realise that it's going to be a long while until I've learnt enough from other experienced stalkers to feel confident in going out entirely on my own, so I've got some time to learn and can rely on others' experience to spot what I might miss for some time yet.

That said, can someone give me some kind of impression about how often one runs into a "notifiable" disease, or finds a carcass which can't be eaten?

I'm new to stalking as some of you will already be aware, have really enjoyed what I've done so far and I'm in it mainly to shoot deer to eat rather than sell, but I'd rather not die of consumption or be the first person to discover a deer with anthrax in the UK by catching it, for instance.

Any real world experience or reassurance you can offer would be much appreciated.

Adam. :)shock:)


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Hi Adam,
I've been stalking for 25 years as a recreational stalker and have only once come across a deer with suspected TB. It was very obvious that there was something wrong with the roe deer before it was shot. Called the relevant authorities and they came and disposed of the carcass. Never did find out from them what was wrong with the animal.

You will come across the odd deer with an "enlarged" lymph node but as long as the rest of the postmortem checks are OK it's safe to enter the food chain. Hasn't killed me yet but then again I don't eat the venison but the wife and neighbours seem to be thriving on it are as most of the site members.


I think you need to sit back and relax. Anyone coming into stalking, especially if they have not had much contact or experience with wildlife can be overwhelmed by some of the content of DSC 1 manual. You are not expected to become an expert over night. Even if you have your own ground, get out with someone who is experienced and can show you how to inspect an animal. Generally deer are very healthy animals, yes there are occasionally cases of notifiable diseases found, but you are more likely to come into contact with animals that have parasitic burdens or physical injury. To put it into context, you are more likely to catch something from your pet dog or cat, than find a deer with a condition that is going to severely effect you.

As I said, relax and take your time.


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hey bud,

trust me, you take a walk in the wild and you're just as likely to pick up ticks that carry lymes disease... TB, very rare and won't spread to you as you won't eat the meat when you see the vitals! anthrax..true,,when you see it, you're likely to die quite soon,,,but let's be honest, it ain't gonna happen...rape seed poisoning,,you're more likely to die from constipation...

don't worry my friend,,it's perfectly safe and a great sport, you'll love it ;)


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Hi guys,

Thanks for the responses - all much appreciated and I do feel reassured. It's slightly irritating that - like many articles on health / risks - the DSC book doesn't actually say much (or anything in most cases) about how likely you are to encounter the things it describes. If it had had a sentence saying "this paragraph was written by a stalker of 40 years who has seen one case of TB in all that time" for instance, I'd have been better able to put it all in perspective.

I am curious to know about the other things - keds, ticks, bot fly and Lyme disease etc. If someone could share some experience on how often those "lesser" conditions are encountered, that would help me complete the picture, so to speak.

Again, your shared experience is very much appreciated - thank you.

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Adam, keds , ticks, bot fly fairly common, warble common in Red deer in Scotland occasionally
seen in Roe but much less often.

None of the above call for rejection of the carcase, nor are they of any danger to you apart from ticks which may carry disease ,Lyme disease being the one that most stalkers worry about but its not the only disease they can carry.

Lyme disease is nasty so you need to be careful but not paranoid , probably only a small % of ticks carry
it , though thats not much consolation if you are bitten by one that does, the biggest danger is when a tick has been attached to you for 24 hours or more,check yourself as soon as you return from an outing, get a proper tick removing tool and you should be OK ,don't listen to other ways of removing they are not safe.

Liver fluke is also common in some areas but only the liver needs to be discarded , sometimes you may find tapeworm cysts on the liver again its a case of discarding the liver.

Deer are very healthy animals and notifiable diseases are rare many stalkers will never come across one in a life times stalking.

In my case one instance of TB in over forty years of handling deer.

Study the deer prior to taking the shot, does it look healthy ? is it acting normal? if there are major health issues
it usually won't.

Do the checks after the shot ,again major problems are usually obvious.

Finally if in doubt don't, if something is suspect better not to eat it there will always be another, and certainly don't let it enter the food chain where it may be eaten by someone else.

Oh one last thing relax you will soon wonder why you were ever worried about it.


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Thanks again for sharing your experience - much appreciated. In spite of your exhorting me to relax, I am probably still (unduly) worried by the prospect of coming into contact with ticks / Lyme disease, but I guess that's the risk you take. The feeling will subside in time I guess - probably when I go back to trying to memorise all of the other stuff for the test. I'll check myself after outings as you say. As I said above, it's going to be a long while before I start going out alone (if ever, since I'll most likely be paying per trip rather than managing my own bit of land) so I can rely on the experience and knowledge of guides to learn all the signs etc.


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with regards to ticks/ lyme disease has said before buy the proper tool for removing them (this will lower the chance on infection as the tick is less likely to regurgitate into your blood steam) i think Cheshire Lad had a deal on them not to long ago. don't go in with the attitude that if your careful you will never have a tick, you will just worry more. learn what to look for, bulls eye rash around the bite, this means when it happens you will be prepared. i have have over ten ticks "dug in" at the one time just follow plan, remove with tool as soon as possible and check site for 4 days after bite for rash. i have only been stalking 4 years but grew up with dogs so were talking them out of the dogs for years. after one or two it will just be a normal thing.



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As others have posted, it's most unlikely you will encounter any of the notifiable disease, thankfully. The risks of transmitting the disease or catching it is also very low. If you stalk in the CAmbridge area, this is in the Low Risk TB area, although the eastern border is in the Edge Area. Vigilance is called for. If you suspect anything - report it. You've said the most important bit - learn from other stalkers.

Good luck with the level one and enjoy your stalking