27 March 2020
What can you expect from your deer stalking during the month of April?
Amidst all of the ‘doom and gloom’ surrounding Coronavirus, there are some good reasons to remain positive.
It is unlikely that most recreational deer stalkers will have memorised the statutory open seasons for each individual deer species, however, there are a few fundamentals that are worth committing to memory. The first of which, is that from the end of March all females, save for the Muntjac doe, are protected. The second, is that from the 1st April the Roebuck season starts.
Indeed, the end of the season for females and the start of the Roebuck season, are the two defining features of the month. Regrettably however, the latter has been rendered more-or-less irrelevant in light of the government’s recent advice to ‘stay at home’ and avoid all non-essential travel. So, with thousands of deer stalkers missing the start of the Roebuck season, what impact will this have on the deer?
Well, with the ‘stay at home’ advise having been issued on the 24th March a week before the end of the season for females, it is fair to estimate that around 5% fewer females will have been shot.
In relation to larger species such as Fallow Buck, which remain in season in England & Scotland throughout April, it is again fair to assume that there will be a small drop in the number of bucks being shot. However, by far and away the biggest impact of COVID-19 will be amongst Roebuck, where the effect will be very significant indeed. This is because statistics show that more Roebuck are shot in April than during any other month. Something which is true despite April being arguably the worst month to be shooting them!
The lack of Roebuck being shot this April, during what is typically their most lethal time of year, will inevitably result in there being a far greater number later in the season.
Whilst the presence of too many immature young bucks can have a disruptive effect on the population, as far as the sport of deer stalking is concerned, this is something to be positive about. Not only will the Coronavirus result in some great sport later in the season, but with fewer animals being shot whilst they are still in velvet, it will also result in better quality of head being presented for measurement.
When will these animals now be harvested? Well that remains to be seen however, the fact that they will be still be there for the taking, is a small consolation to those of us who are having to stay indoors, during what has always been one of the most busy times of the year. Let’s hope that with our May almanac there will be better news, in the meantime may I wish you and yours the best of health.
IN Season in England & Wales: Roebuck, Fallow Buck, Sika Stag, Red Stag, Muntjac Buck & Muntjac Doe.
Off Season in England & Wales: Roe Doe, Fallow Doe, Sika Hind, Red Hind, CWD Buck & CWD Doe.
In Season in Scotland: Fallow Buck, Roebuck
Off Season in Scotland: Red Stag & Red Hind, Sika Stag & Sika Hind, Roe Doe and Fallow Doe.
(Left: Editor Peter Jones)