Deer Stalkers Almanac - April
With April comes some significant changes, Peter Jones takes a look at what you can expect from your Deer Stalking in the month ahead.
(Above: A Heavily pregnant Roe Doe in Bluebells - Courtesy of Ewan Dryburgh)
It’s ‘all change’ in April, as the deer stalkers calendar shifts its focus away from the Hinds and Does. In an effort to protect the young from being orphaned all females, except Muntjac, become protected from the 1st of the month.
With regard to the males things are not quite so straight forward. Here a frequent question that I am asked relates to the anomaly regarding the time of year that we stalk Roe Buck. Why? The question proceeds, do we stalk Roe Buck in the spring and summer and the males of other species from late summer into winter?
Well a significant reason, amongst others, revolves around antler growth. From a deer management perspective it is important not to be shooting males when they are not in hard antler. To do so might potentially entail culling animals without being sure of their promise. Roe Buck are the only UK Deer species that are in ‘hard horn’ during the spring and summer months and this is because they follow a different antler casting cycle than other deer species as they have been growing their antlers during the winter. It is for this reason that whilst April represents the first month for Roe Buck, it represents the last month for Fallow Buck & Red & Sika Stags. For these larger species the casting cycle is carried out from late March into early May before re growth of hard antler is achieved in August.
Most significantly therefore the month of April represents the start of the Roe Buck season. Most hunters, especially trophy hunters, will not however seek to shoot a promising buck until May. The reason for this is that Roe Buck, especially the younger animals, will usually still be in velvet until late April. Yes a hunter might simply boil away the velvet to reveal hard antler, however the antler will be absent of the colour that would otherwise be achieved as a result of fraying and this absence of colour is penalised by the CIC measuring system.
None the less April can be a terrific month to weed out less promising roe buck, bucks who otherwise may be expelled from your land by more dominant bucks, as the testosterone levels start to rise and the jostling for territory begins in May.
Of course there may still be some work to do with regard to the males of the other deer species, however most deer managers that I know do not pursue the stags and bucks of the herding species with such relish during April, but instead allow them to unwind into the closed season.
Of course with deer there are always exceptions and this can be found amongst Chinese Water Deer. Hunting both Buck and Doe of this species is restricted to 1s Nov – 31st March. This is simply because distinguishing between the Doe and Buck of this species is difficult and so it has been deemed necessary, to avoid accidentally orphaning a kid, to legislate against the shooting of both sexes when the Doe's are likely to be with young.
Here at County Deer Stalking during April we will undoubtedly take a few Fallow prickets and a few ‘weak’ and yearling Roe Buck, however Muntjac will also be a focus of our attention, the reason for this is twofold. Firstly during April the under storey is still relatively low and this means we can still see them! Secondly Muntjac buck follow a similar antler casting cycle as the larger herding deer and so will continue to be in hard antler for another month or so.
Finally before signing off, regulars to County Deer Stalking will be aware that in order to meet demand we have taken on an Assistant Stalker, James Mott, to whom I wish to extend a huge welcome.
(Right: James Mott Ass' Stalker at County Deer Stalking)
Along with James come some extra stalking dates and additional Roe stalking ground in Surrey. This promises to be of huge interest to those in search of a quality Roe Buck so please contact us if you would like to enquire about stalking availability: contact-us
(To watch our latest film 'Fallow Deer in March' follow this link: short-films)
IN Season in England & Wales: Fallow Buck, Roe Buck, Sika Stags, Red Stags, Muntjac Bucks & Muntjac Does.
Off Season in England & Wales: Roe Does, Fallow Does, Sika Hinds, Red Hinds, CWD Bucks & CWD Does.
In Season in Scotland: Fallow Buck, Roe Buck
Off Season in Scotland: Red Stags & Red Hinds, Sika Stags & Sika Hinds, Roe Does and Fallow Does.
(Peter Jones - Editor)