For most people, deerstalking conjures up visions of majestic red deer in the Scottish Highlands, with gillies helping their rich clients to shoot the perfect specimen. However, what many do not realize is that deerstalking is also a widespread activity in England, where it has a large number of passionate followers. It’s actually a very important aspect of managing wildlife in England – deer have no natural predators left here and their population would get out of control if they were not culled. In fact, about 30% of the deer in England are culled each year, although that number varies up and down depending on the health of the deer population.
If you are interested in trying deerstalking, then there are many places you can do this – in fact, Middlesex is the only county in England where there is not a natural deer population. However, one of the best places to go deerstalking is in the West Country and Wiltshire. The terrain in this region is perfect for hunting deer and offers huge variety – ranging from forests and meadows through to moorland. There are a number of good professional guides in the area who can take you deerstalking, offering everything from trophy hunting through to basic deer culling.
If you are wondering what deerstalking is like, it is very much as the name says. Deer are incredibly shy creatures, and you need to approach them stealthily in order to get close enough for a good shot. Expect to spend a lot of your time trying to move slowly and silently toward your target – this can even involve crawling along the ground at points. However, that patience will pay off – you are likely to make two or three kills on a trip that lasts several days. Some deerstalkers are also starting to use deer blinds – which are small shelters located at the top of low towers – since these offer good shooting when the weather is bad. However, these are more widely used in the United States, where they are sold by companies such asRedneckblinds.com.
The deer season in England generally runs from late summer through to early spring, but that varies depending on the deer species you are stalking, as well as whether you are going after male deer – which are called stags or bucks, depending on the species – or females, which are known as hinds or does. For example, you can hunt red deer stags from August 1st through to April 30th, whereas the season for fallow deer does runs from November 1st to March 31st. In fact, there are six different species of deer in England that you can stalk, including red deer, fallow deer, sika deer, roe deer, Chinese water deer and muntjac deer. However, only red deer and roe deer are native to England, whereas the other species were introduced by humans – although fallow deer were brought here by the Normans and by the Romans before them, so they have been a part of the English landscape for a very long time.