Oh deer

We are well into the winter up here in the Highlands. Snow (or more like cold, wet sleet) has been falling on and off all weekend and it’s been somewhat of a shock to the system…. The wind hasn’t actually cut us in two yet but at this rate we may need to go straight for a double thermal whammy. Single layers just don’t figure up here…

With the autumn foliage nearly off the trees and the ground vegetation dying back, we’re seeing lots more deer across Lynbreck. We mainly get Roe Deer but there is a big population of Red Deer in neighbouring Abernethy.

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This is a big Red Stag spotted a couple of months ago. It’s amazing how close you can get to these huge animals

Roe deer are a beautiful and elegant native Scottish animal. But there are lots of them. Lots. In fact lots and lots and lots. Apart from us humans, Roe Deer have no other predators (although we’ve heard of a Sea Eagle carrying off a new born before but that doesn’t much happen). And the thing is, Roe Deer just LOVE newly planted trees. Do you see where we’re going with this?

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This wee Rowan tree is on the edge of one of our existing woodlands. It’s not a great picture but you can see that one of the top branches has a white bit at the end. That’s where it’s been snipped off by a Roe Deer

So our new trees will be surrounded by a deer fence to keep them safe. But it still means that we have to keep a close eye on things. Deer have been known to jump these fences in some situations and can you blame them? Imagine a whole 10hectares of your favourite food, taunting you….

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But it’s not just eating the trees. Roe Deer (and others) can damage trees by rubbing their antlers to remove the velvet or mark territories. This causes a lot of damage to the bark and can kill the tree

But we also need to start reducing the population across the whole croft. Our existing woodlands are a safe haven for deer and they’re also a feeding ground. Any tasty natural regenerating trees and flowers will be munched – if the rabbits don’t get to them first that is.

So all this means a call to action. Any deer shot on site will be skinned and butchered and put into our freezer for winter casseroles and stews. Nothing will be wasted where we can help it. The phrase ‘it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it’ springs to mind – but it’s meant in a very literal sense.

Deer, oh dear, oh dear.

 

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5 thoughts on “Oh deer

  1. [J] Is yours a rented croft or are you owner-occupier? If the former then I thought the default termsn and conditions according to Crofting Acts is tha shooting/hunting rights are reserved to the landlord. Indeed even as owner-occupier you can find that the (previous) landlord excluded these rights from the sale. We have three separate parcels of land (now all owner-occupied), two of them we have all rights except minerals, but the other the one of them we don’t have rights to minerals or to hunt/shoot. Ironically it is only the third where we get problems with deer! The estate is community-owned, and the game-keeper will help scare them off, but unless we want an 8ft deer-fence around the house (it’s a holiday let, not a fortress!), we just have to accept that we get damage to the trees, and each year we have to plant new, and give first aid to those that can be saved.

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    • Hi Jonathan. Thanks for your message. Yes we are very fortunate to have the shooting rights on our croft – quite essential for what we want to do with our woodland establishment and diversification. And I totally agree with you about the look of a deer fence. They aren’t pretty and we tried to explore every option to see if we could do it without. But the fence is only short term and the trees will be long term, indeed, we intend, forever! I admire your determination with replacing some and giving first aid to others. That’s the approach, along with stalking, we too will have to take out with the rest of the woodlands on our croft. Neither of us fancy a big deer fence around our entire plot!

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  2. …and here begins the age-old tug-o-war, between folks and other folks…My leaning is toward a very carefully mapped cull, as is-when needed (kinda like contract work, lol), to keep browsers at an optimum consumption/competition rate with seedlings…we can also send you some of our infamous ginseng tarp for winter wrappage, and/or some of that irritating plastic snow fence for making balloon tents, if you like…lemme know on all that…Cheers, J.

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