How many deer?

Leica Amplus 6


Well-Known Member

I have recently been asked by a friend who works on a nature reserve to help him acertain deer numbers on the site. I walk there the odd weekend and have seen plenty of Roe, Munts and the odd Fallow deer. The area is predominantly chalk grassland with smallish copses and dense scrub, and about 500 acres. It is currently not stalked.

I have never been there and not seen a deer, and during the rut saw up to 8 Roe in less than 5 acres, so I think there is a few about!

My question is what is the best method of acertaining a deer population? I appreciate that this is never going to be a science, as deer dont make a habit of being easy to locate, and it is hard to know if you have recounted the same beast, but what works for you guys when you are evaluating a bit of potential stalking?

I have in the past relied upon farmers knowledge (of which there are none as it is a SSSI) and browsing, but this kind of land is not what I am used to, and there are alot of different plant species (I am a northern lad, and this is in Oxfordshire), as well as trails/deer paths. I have also not had much to do with Fallow or Munts.

Any advice appreciated!



Well-Known Member
Ascertaining deer populations

Hi James,

Counting deer is never an easy task, and if you wanted to get a real idea of minimum numbers, then you would have to have the help of several people, especially on 500 acres, to carry out census work on the same day, and the same time to avoid duplicating sightings.

You don't have an easy task on your hands I'm afraid, but it can be done through perseverance.

Presumably the decision to try an ascertain numbers is in the wake of increased damage.

The environment you are talking of sounds similar to what we have in Hampshire, in which case I can tell you that our area currently supports around 1 deer per 5 acres. The densiy of your deer could well be higher because no stalking takes place there.

A word of warning, if you have Muntjac there, then I would recommend a heavy cull. Keep on top of them!

My prediction is that they will emerge as the biggest threat to forestry and agricultural interests in the UK. Our own management strategy down here is to shoot all Muntjac on sight unless thay are obviously feeding youngsters. They can be a nightmare in sensitive areas.

Fallow, with culling pressure, can be encouraged to leave the area, but you need to keep on them. Cross-boundary cooperation with neighbouring landowners, will also help you influence deer numbers on the core area. It's worth exploring

As far as counting is concerned, if you keep records of random sightings, sexes and ages, locations etc, you will soon start to see a pattern emerge which will allow you to identify high concentrations, and deal with them if need be. Through census work, you will be mainly observing trends rather than absolute numbers

By far the best way of ascertaining deer impact in the area is by observing damage levels through the use of inclosures ( tiny areas fenced off so that you can compare the protected area with the unprotected area. If there's a difference, then you have too many deer and that will only lead to severe damage to the local floral environment, and compromise any other species that relies on that environment.

I hope this helps, but without seeing the area it's difficult.

Best Regards

Mike (Jelen Deer Services)


Well-Known Member
deer numbers

Very tough like mike says.
my rule is that if you think you have none, you have some. If you think you have a few, you have quite a lot. If you think you have a lot you have LOADS.

I have a buddy who does a lot of serious muntjac culling. He hammers them VERY hard and has made no visible difference to thier numbers. I agree that in years to come muntjac will be a massive problem.



Well-Known Member
As always some excellent responses. I like the concept of a paint ball gun, sounds like fun! Thanks to all.

I have seen 'control areas' on reserves before and they are a real eye opener, the fenced areas look like the Borneo jungle by comparison, and I will suggest this. It is sometimes hard to believe how deer shape our woodlands so vastly.

I think I will set up a recording procedure for sightings and get the various workers to contribute. I think then it is a matter of noting the effects of browsing and fraying and building up a overview.

I agree that Munts should be shot on sight, as they are prolific in this neck of the woods, and this will be another recomendation.



paul k

Well-Known Member
One of the problems with controlling muntjac is that so many live in areas where stalking is impossible due to urbanisation. These areas just serve as a reservoir to feed new stock into adjacent areas which have been heavily culled.

I used to cull an area near Princes Risborough where due to much used footpaths and bridle paths we could only safely stalk about 800 acres out of 2,500 on the estate and as we shot them they were just replaced from the rest of the estate.

You will never get on top of muntjac more than temporarily in my opinion.

Andy L

Well-Known Member
No problem James, You can always rely on me to come up with the most sensible suggestions.
Stoney Creek - Purpose Built Shooting Clothing