We look at the effect of the Coronavirus on the 2020 Roebuck Season.

Roebuck in Velvet 555

It has been my own personal opinion, during the initial stages of the Coronavirus outbreak, that due to the solitary nature of deer stalking, particularly through syndicates such as our PLUS scheme, that the benefits to health, both mental and physical, have far outweighed the likelihood of any increased susceptibility to infection.

None the less, as of 24th March recent government advice now precludes all non-essential travel and as thousands of deer stalkers stay at home, what is the likely affect that this will have on deer numbers?

Well, with the ‘stay at home’ advise having been issued a week before the end of the season for females, I calculate that around 5% fewer females will have been shot. In relation to larger species such as the Fallow deer, which remains in season in England & Scotland throughout April, the majority of bucks are shot earlier in the season. None the less, here again, the effect may be, that around 5% fewer animals will be shot and allowed to go on to reach maturity next season.

The largest impact of COVID-19 will be amongst Roebuck, where the effect will be very significant indeed.

To explain why, it’s worth taking a look back at an article which we published on 12th April 2016 by Senior CIC Trophy Judge Iain Watson, in which Iain comments:

“Overall numbers of Roebuck culled in the first three weeks of April far outstrip those coming from other months, of what is, after all, a long season.

The records illustrate that the fall off in numbers can be quite startling, slowing through May and June, with a bit of a pickup in the rut, then reducing as summer fades and autumn approaches”. 

Indeed, I have also found this to be true. The visibility of Roe during March and April is at a peak and it is reasonable to assume therefore, that with thousands of deer stalkers staying at home during April, a sizeable number of Roebuck will be spared what is evidently their most lethal time of year!

When will activities recommence? Well that is the big question. May is also a busy time for Roebuck, should the ‘stay at home’ advice spill over into May the effect will be greater still.

Whilst this will surely have an impact on numbers, it is also set to have a positive effect on the quality of heads that are presented for measuring. Iain Watson writes further in our article April 2016:

“Purely from a trophy perspective there are no doubt pros and cons to early season shooting. Sure the bucks are easier to locate, but more often than not they lack colour or in extreme cases have to be stripped of residual velvet prior to being evaluated. Both disadvantage the final score. On the up side, pearling and coronet definition tends to be fresher and sharper which might balance the lack of colour. But an often-overlooked aspect is the core condition of the antlers and therefore the overall impact on weight and volume, the two most critical elements in the scoring of roe trophies.

When cleaned of the velvet, and as they colour up, antlers develop a surface finish, in effect a seal. This process has an impact on the final weight of the trophy. At the same time the core of the new antler continues it’s drying out process, in effect going through a process of some internal shrinkage. All of these aspects have an effect on the final score resulting in silvers that should have made gold”.

It is pretty evident, from what Iain has to say, that when stalking does resume, that not only will there be significantly more Roebuck, but the quality of heads that are measured will be superior.

Whether this will be true, time will tell, however, I believe it to be so. Added to which, it’s important for our sanity during such dark times, to glean some small consolation from the frustrations of having to stay indoors!

To read Iain Watson’s article in full please follow this link: when-to-shoot-that-trophy-roe-buck

To book a stalk for Roebuck please call 0203 981 0159 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Or alternatively to discover when the best time to go Roebuck Stalking click here: when-is-the-best-time-to-go




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