Some Guys Get All the Luck
Toby Worthington considers when it is appropriate to cull mature Fallow Buck.
(Above: A superb once in a lifteime trophy Fallow Buck)
Deer Stalking can be a hit and miss pursuit, with its highs and its lows and that perhaps, is part of its appeal. With the best laid plans and with the best intentions, sometimes it just doesn’t happen and for one reason or another, things just don’t go right. In contrast, sometimes things go very right, very right indeed, and they don’t get much better than this!
On the first day of the season for Fallow Buck, this spectacular beast was just one of a large number of mature, master Fallow buck encountered during a stalk outing by one of the Capreolus Club members on the newly launched PLUS scheme.
The club’s PLUS scheme allows suitably qualified members to stalk unaccompanied on a ‘book and go’ basis and is proving extremely successful. Since the start of the scheme, there has been a carefully laid out management plan detailing what and when to shoot. The fact that this animal could be shot, goes some way to illustrate just how successful the quality of the grounds available to members are, and the availability of mature animals.
On this occasion, confronted with a herd of mature Fallow Buck who were gradually setting about flattening more and more of the farmers crop, there was a decision to be made, stand idly by and in the interests of betterment of the species, allow these mature bucks to go about their business, or take action to protect the farmers crop.
Quite genuinely, it’s a tricky one. Every deer manager is aware of the need to replicate the role of the deer’s natural predators, the Wolf and the Lynx and in doing so, take only the young and infirm, however on occasion, some grounds, and this one would appear to be a case in point, appear to have an abundance of mature animals and a decision must be made by the man on the ground, based on experience and the best available information. And so on this rare occasion, faced with not just one or even two mature males, but in fact a whole herd of them, there was some spare capacity and it was deemed appropriate and possible to take this once in a lifetime trophy.
Whilst Fallow Deer of this size and quality are frequently seen in parks due to careful selection and culling of weaker animals, they are a rarity in the wild due in part, to the fact that it is impossible to view the whole ‘gene pool' from which a specific animal can be selected. It is only possible in these circumstances do ones best and to apply sensible guidelines and ensure that the end of year cull figures, are heavily weighted in favour of young animals in the form of pricket’s and yearling does.
By applying this simple formula, let’s hope that with continued good deer management and careful selection, that herds of mature animals such as these, can continue to be seen. It is the intention of County Deer Stalking and the Capreolus Club that this remains the case.