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I keep reading horror stories about the rising tick numbers and that we're all going to fall over from Lyme disease an at any moment.

I haven't noticed any increase in tick numbers on the bucks I've shot here in Gloucestershire, infact, they always seem to be remarkably clean, with just the odd tick and a few keds. A friend who bought some forestry up near Loch Ness last year, has just come back saying that the ticks were everywhere and that the 3 Sika stags he got were riddled. But he hasn't had the land long enough to know if this is typical for this time of year.

I'd been interested to hear what you're finding in your own areas.


Site Staff
Alex I have some large aresa in the highlands that I have access to and lease, most areas are riddled with ticks. On the West coast near Ullapool I have access to an estate where for the last 3 years we have helped with the Red cull, it is a bad area for ticks and flat flies. There is Lymes disease in the area, and at least one resident stalker I know has had it twice.
I find that you tend to get a great many ticks in areas where there is little or no heather burning, and no sheep. I also notice that the Grouse and to a lesser extent Ptarmigan numbers are very much reduced in these areas, possibly because of heavy tick infestation. Sheep do have their uses, as they are dipped regularly the tick numbers are reduced on the ground, and burning also knocks them on the head. Of course the other argument is that the winters are not as cold as they used to be and therefore tick numbers increase.

I do not know if there is Lymes disease in or around Lochness, but I would not be suprised, it is certainly on the increase, especially in northern Scotland.


Hi Malcolm

Thanks for your reply.

But do you think the ticks are increasing in number in the areas you go to regularly?

The other thing I forgot to mention in my original post, is that whilst the Sika Stags were covered in ticks, they were in very good health, good fat coverage etc...The high ticks numbers in that forest don't seem to be having any adverse effect on the deer's health, unlike the effect on the birds you mention.

All the best.


Site Staff
I cannot say about the numbers of ticks. On the area we have on the west coast the area is covered in them. The deer are in fine condition as a rule, and do not seem to be overstessed by their numbers. There are only a handfu, of sheep and hardly any grouse. Lymes disease has been in the area for sometime, but there are huge numbers of ticks, one only has to lay down on the ground and in a few minutes there on you.

On the east coast area I have there are a great many Sika, and I have noticed on my particular patch that tick numbers are moderate to low, and as far as I am aware no Lymes disease as yet, but then this is only my experiance. There are reasonable sheep numbers and reasonable grouse numbers for an unkeepered and to a greater extent unburnt area. Again the deer are in good condition.

Further over near Dornoch on the east coast, Clashmore forest has all 3 species Reds, Sika and Roe. It has not been burnt for years, and tick numbers are high.
In Dorset where I manage Sika, I have yet to see any deer with a great many ticks, most are clean and as fat as butter.

I have stalked the same districts in northern Scotland for well over 20 years, and I would say that if anything tick numbers seem to have increased, but these are just my own personal observations.


I have not noticed a rise in tick numbers on the animals I've been shooting down here in Gloucestershire over the last 5 yrs, fallow and roe mostly.

I help a friend out occassionally down in Dorest, near Sherbourne, and I'm always amazed about how many more ticks his roe's have, around the ears and crotch. Puzzling as to why some areas have more ticks. As Malcolm points out, it could be to do with farming ie the number of sheep/cows locally, lot of dairy farms around the land in Dorset.

Has anyone ever done any studies on how cold the winter has got to be to really knock tick numbers. Not read any reports myself. Anyone know how long a tick can live in the grass without attaching an animal? Lots of questions!


Well-Known Member
l have an area in East Anglia l regularly stalk there has always been ticks on the ground but this year there is notably more l put it down to the mild winter l can guarantee that l will have at least 1 of the little buggers attached somewhere every time l go out usually more, but as of yet l have not heard of any Lyme's disease.

l also stalk in south east Scotland big sheep country were l very rarely see a tick in fact l have only had 1 on me in 20 yrs of stalking there so there is defiantly something in what sikamalk says high sheep No's = low tick No's, there is also a fair bit of heather burning that goes on.


Site Staff
Interesting thread this one, I am suprised that where 300wsn stalks in east Anglia that tick numbers are high. Maybe it is down to milder winters? Am I right in thinking that the organo phosphate they used on sheep is now banned? It was terrible stuff I know but it must have had a punch when it came to killing ticks.

On the areas I stalk for Chinese Water Deer in Bedfordshire I have yet to see a tick. Much the same in Northamptonshire, hav'nt really noticed big tick numbers there either on Munties and Fallow. The area I have for Roe in Sussex seems to be tick free as well, or at least I cannot recall seeing any on the bucks I have shot thus far this season.

I think tick numbers are possibly governed by a number of factors, deer numbers, amount of domestic stock nearby that are dipped, burning and weather, I am sure someone will have done an in depth study or Phd on this phenominan and proove me entirely wrong.


Distinguished Member
I stalk Fallow in several areas in Herefordshire ticks are a very rare find and I've never seen a ked, the same go's for my Muntjac and Roe stalking in Worcestershire. I have had some Roe stalking in the Cotswolds for 12 months and I am yet to see a tick on them, however a Fallow buck I shot last rut not far from Gloucester was covered in Ticks and Keds. I was glad I had traded the Shogun for a pickup doing 70mph up the M5 with a Ked crawling up my neck doen't do much for my driving :D



Well-Known Member
We shoot south of hereford and have never found ticks or keds, we also shoot with a mate in berkshire and the roe up there have a few keds and you end up with one or two crawling around you....eddie


New Member
Deer numbers

The deer that I've shot in Scotland have always had a good number of ticks on them.

Is it too simplistic to think there could be a direct relationship between high deer populations (which we read about in the news all the time) and the rising tick numbers. More deer, more hosts, more ticks.

One of the other contributors to this thread ask how long a tick can live for without finding a host. I'd like to know too.


Well-Known Member
Soil types, environment, proximetey to live stock ie sheep etc are factors to be considered. Ticks will live on any warm blooded host, even birds and hedgehogs! I'm not sure exactly how long they live without a host, but I read somewhere that they can go into a dormant state in the soil until ground disturbance from deer, sheep, etc revives them.


Well-Known Member
Herewith some re-cycled info. regarding the TICK. [Ixodes ricinus]
It is a small spider-like creature whose appearance changes with the different changes of its life cycle.
The cycle includes 3 feeding sessions over a 3 year period. However in some areas mild winters and cool summers can modify what is described here.
Year 1.
Females deposit several thousand fertilised eggs in soil crevices. By the summer the eggs have hatched into larvae which may remain inactive in the shelter of leaf litter until the following Spring.
Year 2.
In the Spring the larvae become active, climb up vegetation and wait to attach themselves to their host , usually a mouse or a vole for a blood meal.
After the feed the larvae fall to the ground , moult into the nymph stage and remain inactive until the following Spring .
Year 3.
In the Spring the nymphs become active again and have a blood meal. This may be from a mouse, vole or larger animal such as a rabbit or a hare.After the feed the nymph falls to the ground to mature into the adult stage. Adults emerging in the Autumn or, more usually the following Spring climb up the vegetation and attach themselves to a passing host ,be this a Deer, Sheep, Horse or a Dog.
Mating may take place on the host , the male dies and the female drops off. The female then lays her eggs to complete the life cycle.
Infection by the Tick takes place during one of the blood meals at which time the Tick may transmit the cause of Lyme Disease to the host animal.

Lyme Disease is usually transmitted to Humans by infected Nymphs during Year 3 of their life cycle when they bite people. In the Nymph stage ticks are quite small and will not be felt on the skin. Lyme Disease can also be transmitted by the infected adult ticks to human beings when they emerge looking for larger hosts. As the tick feeds it swells with the blood of the host and becomes more obvious on the skin.

Trusting this may be of use. Since the Organo-Phosphate dip was banned ticks are more numerous here in the Lake District than hitherto. My personal experiences go back 46 years.


Site Staff
It is interesting to note the wide geographical range between people on this site, many are stating that they rarely see a tick on a beast they have culled, myself included, except for the areas I have in Scotland.

Simon mentions that it is too simplistic to state that high deer numbers means high tick numbers, but it seems that this may be partly the case. Not that I am agreeing with government ideas about vast increases in deer numbers and the eradication poliices carried out by the DC and FC.

Interesting to note what Stag 1933 has said about organo phosphate and the rise in ticks numbers in the Lake District area over his years of considerable experiance, and the useful information regarding their lifecycle. Lymes disease is a serious problem and if untreated will kill you. This problem is not going to go away, and I for one feel that we are going to see this problem spreading into new areas as time goes by.
The Lucky Hunter