Fallow Deer Culling in the New Forest
- Monday, 10 February 2020
How often in deer stalking, beyond the boundaries of an enclosure or park, is the word ‘cull’ truly appropriate? A handful of our club members experience one such example.
With the herding species, and this is particularly true of Fallow, herds get to such high densities that occasional, individual 'stalk outings' become a totally inadequate method of controlling an ever-expanding population, so other strategies become an important part of a deer managers repertoire.
Such was the case on a recent Capreolus Club trip to the New Forest area, where the deer numbers were nothing short of extraordinary. Here the requirement for cull days involving a number of rifles, forms an essential means of reaching the estates cull target, which in this case numbers 300 beasts per season.
The event started on a recent Friday afternoon in February, when along with five rifles I arrived at the yard to meet the head stalker, who immediately prompted me to use my Swaro’ EL’s to ‘glass’ a herd of around 50 Fallow grazing a nearby field. Needless to say, having witnessed this, after a few test shots on the range and some paperwork, our small team of rifles were keen to get going.
(Above: The number of Fallow deer seen on this club trip was extraordinary)
Initially, climbing into a double high-seat with regular CDS contributor James Schneider, the late afternoon/evening stalk got off to a promising start, when, we bumped three Fallow who ‘pronked’ lazily back into the thick woods and Rhododendron over which the high seat was positioned.
It was then no more than a mere 20 mins before James efficiently dispatched the first Fallow of the evening, a doe at around 100 yards to our right, as she exited the woodland with a follower. Thereafter, it would be true to say, that sightings were as frequent as every ten minutes before a further Fallow fell victim to a round from James’s Sauer in 6.5x55 calibre as she exited the woodland obligingly broadside at around 150 yards to our left.
Other tantalising opportunities arose during the remainder of the session, as more deer provided fleeting glimpses of themselves as they browsed just inside the woodland margin, before our third Fallow of the evening broke the cover of the Rhododendron, just 75 yards in front of us at last light, providing an easy shot for James.
The following morning following a first-class meal at a local 16th Century pub, and how often is it that the stalker goes out with his own rifle and dispatches three deer while positioning rifles in their seats! Testament to both the number of deer and the stalkers desire to get on top of the problem. This was followed by another six animals shot from closely packed herds of up to fifty or more animals as they moved across rides in front of waiting high seats.
There is little doubt that those tasked with controlling the numbers in this region of the UK are working flat out to try and stay on top of the deer however, a number of rifles positioned strategically around a ground can be a useful tactic in a deer managers repertoire.
All told, five rifles and the stalker shot 15 beasts from an unfamiliar ground. Does this justify the word ‘cull’? I believe so and we look forward to further visits to this fabulous ground at the start of next season.
Alternatively to read more about Fallow Deer Stalking follow this link: fallow-deer-stalking