Lancashire Roe

CDSG Shooting Sports


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Not sure if this is of any interest but it has been very rewarding for me - it's the story of a (hopefully) improving herd of roe on an estate in the north of the county. It had no history of management when I took it over 3 years years ago. Woods heavily overbrowsed.
The woods are mixed but on poor soil. Grazing is rectricted due to lots of sheep (some liver fluke evidence - now less common) and pheasants are hand fed so feeding is never going to be great.

I have been suprised at how quickly I have seen an improvement in both heads and, more importantly body weights with an average increase of 6 pounds per carcase.
As well as some poaching incidents recorded RTA's were recorded - usually 2 or 3 annually, now thankly none for the last 2 years also some deer found dead including this very old, poor 4 pointer - teeth smooth flat.

So I started by shooting all the yearling and young bucks virtually 'on sight' inc this 2yo. And, of course hitting the does hard. Aiming at 50% cull to reduce population across the estate. Due to pheasant shooting only being allowed on to most of the ground in Feb was a challenge, the law change has helped with March but I do my best to keep to yearling does in the new month.


The early mature bucks taken were poor. This fella was 5 and has 6 points but they don't get above the ears in height.


Then finally - and having problems with the pic so might have to follow this year was able to take a really nice, old 7 pointer. He was with a super, young 6 pointer whose antlers were, at least another 2 inches taller.

A rewarding job - still half done but, its the first time I have looked after a patch with no history of culling and it does show that we can make a difference.



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That's an interesting read, Nick.

What was your estimated starting population per 100 hectares and what did you need to get it down to ?

Can I also ask if you were involved in sapling regeneration counts per hectare as an indicator of population etc?



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This is a sign of good deer management, especially the increase in body weight. It will be interesting to see how the antlers go. Especially if the soil is poor.

Well done and keep up the good work. :D

Disco Stu

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An interesting read on the benefits of deer management locally in Lancashire. Keep up the good work and keep us informed.


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Snowstorm - in answer your question it was around 3.3 per 100 hectares and have now achieved aim of 2 per 100 hectares. It's worth pointing out that this is reflective on a large amount of woodland on the estate with one area of mixed forestry/ancient deciduous of over 125 hectares.

I haven't done sapling counts (from pop point of view) but do have a transect through the big wood in the old FC style - ie., damage.


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We are almost all Sitka and are aiming for 5-10 per 100 ha. to get some regeneration going. Currently I think we are 12-14. Deciduous is more vunerable so I suppose your need to go harder. It's tricky to call, we have a ten year impact period.

We need 2000 saplings naturally regenerating per 100 ha within 10 years to confirm the plan is working, I don't know what it would be for broadleaves. Once you get into it, it really is an out and out battle for the trees.

Planning to plant some sacrifical willow in the spring.

Looking at your numbers I think you may be underestimating your population - you've taken a lot of deer for 3.3 per 100 ha?


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Could you please enlighten me to your survey techniques that allow such accuracy?

With relation to Roe population estimation I had always been under the impression that there wasn't scope to make it an exact science?

Being able to determine the population to decimal points over an area of 247acres(old scale I know) sounds like you might be onto something???

Regarding the difficulty ascertaining the tone of a posting please be aware I am genuinely interested.

Glad to see that you are reaping the rewards of positive management.

Unfortunately too many people are still not performing their Doe management obligations with the same enthusiasm or effectiveness.

All the best



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Hello Ben

Balancing trees/crop vs deer is like trying to hold two ping pong balls under water with one finger.

There is a specific mechanism to it, and you need to be able to justify each data point if you want it to be accurate. You need to :

a) equate what you see to a species specific population size
b) being able to accurately define what you see, which is a lot harder than it sounds
c) decide whether what you see, and what you want are the same - if so don't shoot any deer! If not, then depending on your objective for your plan you need to reduce the population to a set level which will allow it - the data on that is sketchier.

For open hill species it is easier (never done that though) as you can see and count them, but for woodland species it is a lot harder.

There are various sources of information, BDS for one, published research, FC etc which can give you research based data on how to to do (a). I know what my ideal max deer pop is for instance based on published research, but I couldn't say what Nick's is because his estate's plans could involve felling everything/nothing/planting over the next 20 years.

Your objective could be to do nothing, selective cull, total cull, depending on what is required to meet your crop/tree management plan as each different scenario can tolerate a different number of animals being present, and can offer other management tools than shooting.

As for (b), this is the key thing. Most people know about fraying etc, but I'm afraid it comes down to things like counting hundreds of saplings, measuring heather, clearing away deer sh** over large sample areas then counting it as it reappears over a period of weeks (that is the most accurate method, but not the most pleasant). Deer paths are not that accurate a method because just as there are lots of people on the M62, they don't all live up on the moors it passes through.

Edit : even the research discusses numbers in confidence interval terms e.g. 5-10 deer, 6-12 deer etc. Decimal points arise from taking the arithmetic mean over a larger area. I you think you have 5-10 deer per 100 ha the numbers are so small at that scale that you can get your head around them, but then thats 500-1000 deer for 10,000 ha which is no good for any calculation, so you take a mid point at that level e.g. 750, which gets you back down to 7.5 deer per 100 ha, or .75 per 10 ha. But you know that there are wide intervals either side.

Ultimately though, all that matters is whether the interventions you make have the effect you want and I think that happens over a number of years. You build up an understanding rather than a snapshot.

The research I refer to has been based on just such experiences. I might write up my experiences in a few years for other people's benefit.

The Deer Management Plan is a very small part of the Forest Management Plan - to many, it's is a peripheral issue not a central one. I don't spend my time worrying about deer numbers, I worry about access for forestry machinery, drainage and the falling price of timber.

It sounds very precise, and to an extent the analysis is - however, the plan production is easier than the execution.

I could give you the actual reality of a deer management plan but the thought process is a bit mad!

Best, S.



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I like to link deer cull targets with the state of the vegetation and woodland structure.

If you’re after healthy ground flora and a thriving population of saplings, then a rapid and hefty cull (or deer fencing) usually gets results, providing livestock numbers are correspondingly low. That’s the “easy” way but there are 1001 other permutations depending on the particular management objectives of the man in charge of the woodland. Ultimately however, a natural woodland environment needs grazing animals so fences will need to be removed and deer numbers allowed to increase, once the seedlings are tough enough.

Deer densities are hard to estimate but it may surprise you to know that Sika numbers can exceed 50/100ha up here in the north of Scotland. I manage forests so the general rule of thumb is that deer numbers need to be held at a level that does not impact negatively on the woodland environment, although the main concern, in reality, is the protection of young trees. Again, my advice is to cull hard when it matters, then experiment when the pressure is off.

I also agree that a significant decrease in numbers usually leads to an improvement in the body weight of the resident population (and the possibility of more young trees).

Please keep us posted on how your area progresses.



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This has developed into an interesting thread, and should shed light on where deer cull numbers/management plans come from.

In the case of FC stands where the ultimate objective is to clearfell then replant at 35-40 years, then deer and livestock can be let back in once the trees are big enough to defend themsleves, as Scotspine points out.

If you are going for a continuous cover approach where you need a new population of seedlings coming through every year then livestock needs to be kept out permanently, and deer numbers must never be allowed to rise above the threshold level. If you are going for a more irregular shelterwood CCF approach then you can fence selected areas off, but it's a high maintenance/high cost activity.

It is interesting to note that typical plantation conifers have a natural shelf life, so if you don't cut them down then nature will blow them down - so the time pressure is always on with them and they need active protection if you want natural regeneration. Broadleaves have a much longer shelf life, often hundreds of years, and so the pressure to protect natural regeneration is much less.

The most difficult silvicultural system to protect is where you are trying to replace a conifer stand with regenerating broadleaves i.e. turning a forestry plantation which is doomed to be clearfelled, into a more amenity based wood which is self sustaining and will never be clearfelled. When you have deer over a certain number, broadleaves just don't make it on their own from seed and you have to buy expensive established saplings and expensive tree protection systems.


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I should have pointed out the densities I spoke of include the whole estate not just the woodland and large areas are sheep ground with no deer. The woodland is about 1/4 the estate so 10 per 100 hectares of woodland would have been a more accurate figure.

The transect is showing a marked increase in new saplings and reduction in browsed/frayed stock - I'll let you know when I have done the maths!

The regeneration process is really only understory at the moment (desired for the pheasant shooting) - however with planned felling and desired broadleaved natural regeneration I will have to step it up in those woods.
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