Deer are part of the Cervidae family that includes moose, reindeer and elk
The number of deer in the UK is subject of much debate and ranges from around 1.5 million to 2 million
There six species resident in the UK: Red, Sika, Fallow, Roe, Chinese Water Deer and Muntjac
Only Red and Roe are truly native to the UK
Fallow was introduced by the Normans
Venison is worth £170 million to the UK economy
Sika, Chinese Water Deer and Muntjac were introduced at the end of the 19th Century and early 20th Century
Male deer grow new antlers each year
Animals such as antelope resemble deer in a number of ways but have horns instead of antlers, the difference being that horns are not grown and replaced like antlers are
During the mating season male deer will often use their antlers to fight for the attention of female deer
A male deer is usually called a 'stag' or ‘buck’. They can also be known as 'hart' or 'bull'
A female deer is usually called a ‘hind' or 'doe. They can also be known as 'cow'
A young deer is usually called a ‘calf', 'fawn’ or kid
A group of deer is known as a ‘herd' or 'mob'
Most deer are born with white spots but lose them within a year
Deer take their first steps within half an hour of their birth
Young deer will usually stay with their mother for around a year
Deer have their eyes on the sides of their head this gives them a 310 degree view
Deer can be found around the world. They are native to all continents except for Australia and Antarctica. There are about 100 types of deer, including the reindeer, elk, moose and caribou
Deer are the only animals that grow antlers
Antlers are the fastest growing living tissue on earth
Antlers are usually only found on males. In some species, like caribou, you will also find them on females
Moose have the largest antlers.
While growing, antlers are covered with a soft tissue known as velvet. This tissue contains a network of nerves and blood vessels and is very sensitive. When velvet is shed the antlers harden.
Antlers are shed in winter
Antlers should not be confused with horns. Horns are never shed and continue to grow throughout the animal's life. If they are broken, they won't grow back
Antler growth may be affected by illness or accident. In some cases the antlers fail to harden off. The extravagant growth remains soft and the velvet is not shed. This is called a ‘perrugue’ head (French for wig)
Deer have an excellent sense of smell and can detect predators from a long distance away
Deer lick their nose to keep it moist this helps odor particles stick to it and in doing so improves their sense of smell
Deer produce a strongly scented pheromone with glands located on their head (in front of each eye), legs and hooves. This scent provides information to other deer about their gender, social status, physical condition and marks their home range
Deer are ungulates, which means they have two-toed hoofs
Deer can achieve speeds up to 40 miles per hour and jump up to10 feet. They are also proficient swimmers
Deer are herbivores. They eat grass, leaves, stems, shoots, berries, herbs, acorns, mushrooms, wild fruit and agriculture crops like corn and soy beans
Deer are ruminants (cud chewers) and have a four-chambered stomach. Other ruminants include cattle, goats and antelope
The life expectancy of deer can be up to 20 years
Around 350,000 deer are culled each year thereby reducing the impact they have on native flora and fauna
No deer, with the exception of the Musk Deer, have a a gall bladder
With the exception of the Chinese water deer, which have tusks, all male deer have antlers
Deer organ meat is called 'humble' as in 'eat humble pie'
The the heart, liver, lungs is known as 'pluck'
The skins make a particularly strong, soft leather, known as buckskin
Teeth. All species have 12 molar, 12 pre-molar, 2 lower canines and six lower incisors 32 in total. Deer do not have upper incisors
In China the antlers when in the 'velvet' are ground down and added to food for health giving properties
Hummel is the name given to a stag which does not develop antlers. As a result, he usually acquires a much heavier body weight than other stags, as the nutrients which would otherwise go into the developing antler are absorbed by the body more generally
Deer poo is called 'fewmet', 'crotties' or pellets. The science of pelletology can be used to determine the number of deer, species and gender in a given area
Deer tracks are called 'slots'
Well trodden paths by deer are called 'racks'
A wallow or scrape are often seen during the 'rut' as a sign of male territorial behaviour. The males will urinate in the muddy patch and then roll in it
Deer ears are independently mobile giving 360 degree coverage. Their hearing as a result is good and deer are able to monitor sound from two different directions simultaneously
When the wind is blowing deer prefer it to blow on their backs and not their face
The coat of a deer is called Pelage. They go through a biennial change of coat when both texture and colour varies with the season
A browse line is the height at which a deer will eat vegatation. Typical heights are: Muntjac up to 70cm; Roe up to 1m; Fallow and Sika up to 1.4m and Red up to 2m
Deer Management provides 2,500 jobs in Scotland
Over 100,000 people stalk deer ever year
Deer have good eyesight and can see movement up to 300m away
Deer meat is called 'venison'. The term venison has been used as far back as the eleventh century. It was used to describe all meat that came from an animal or animals that were hunted by man. The etymology of the word is from the Latin word venor which means to hunt or to pursue
More than 74,000 deer each year are involved in vehicle collisons in the UK. This results in around 450 human injuries including fatalities
In Ireland there are just three species of deer red sika and fallow
The mating season is called the 'rut'
Four reasons why Venison is good for you. 1 - It has more protein than any other red meat, which means that it sates the appetite really well. 2 - It is particularly rich in iron (more so than beef), which prevents anaemia and is good for energy levels. 3 –Venison is full of B vitamins: B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin), which help regulate metabolism; and vitamin B6 and B12, which may lower homocysteine build-up in the blood, thus lowering the risk of heart attacks and strokes. 4 – because deer eat wild and pasture food the small amount of fat in venison is likely to contain high levels of conjugated linoleic acid, which is thought to protect against heart disease and cancer.
Red (Cervus elaphus)
Largest wild deer in UK
Long lozenge shaped ears
Has a rump patch which is yellowish
Single sex herds except when in the rut
Height at withers: Hinds up to 122cm. Stags up to 137cm
Weight up to 250+kg
While these are forest animals they are best known on the Scottish hills where they have adapted well
Majority are in Scotland with some other herds on Exmoor and the Quantocks as well as in Cumbria and Yorkshiore and East Anglia
Towards gthe end of September The stags start to 'roar' and fight each other.
They leave the male herds which is called 'break out' in search of females
The rut continues until the end of October
Stags stop eating during the rut
A barren female (hind) is called a 'yeld'
The classic red deer male head is known as a 'royal'
A yearling stag's first head is known as a 'knobber'
Stags are at their prime between 8-12 years
Antlers are cast (fall off) from late March to May
The velvet on the new antlers is cleaned off in late August- September when they are described as being in 'hard horn'
The gestation period of the Red Deer is 225 - 270 days and the hind gives birth to a single calf (rarely two) in May to mid June.
Sika (Cervus nippon)
Smaller but closely related to the Red
Ears shorter than the Red with broad lobes and dark spots inside
Sika have a white rump patch with a black border extending down to its hock
Height: female (hind) up to 85cm, stange up to 95cm
Weight up to 70+kg
Introduced to UK during the 19th century from Japan, Manchuria and Formosa.
The wild herds established now are escapes from deer parks
Pure bred Sika can inter-breed with Red
The main Sika population is in Scotland but there are herds scattered in England. The main areas are in Dorset, the New Forest, Cumbria and Lancashire
Mostly in single sex herds during the year
The stag groups break up in August and september
Single calves are produced in May/June
Sika have a wide range of calls from a rising and falling whistle to a moaning wail
The males first head are two singles spikes
When mature they have eight points
Stags cast their antlers in March to May
Velvet is shed during late August and early September
The breeding season, or 'rut' occurs from the end of September to November.
A single calf (rarely twins) is born during early May to late June after a gestation period of 7 ½ months.
Fallow (Dama dama)
Although It is thought the Romans may have first bought Fallow to Britain it is more likely the Normans imported them in the Middle Ages
Fallow were chosen as park deer for their looks
There are four main colour combinations:
Common - a rich chesnut clour with sparse creamy white spots. The underside is white in both winter and summer.
Melanistic (black) - glossy black summer coat. In winter it becomes dusky and the lower half of the body is a mushroom colour
White - They are not albino because they have dark eyes but their noses and hooves are pale
Menil - Light beige with lots of white spots. Spots retained all year round and not much difference between summer and winter
Wild herds have lived for centuries in ancient forests such as the New Forest, Epping Forest & the Forest of Dean
Male Fallow are called Bucks NOT Stags
Fallow have a long active tail with broad black/brown strip down the middle
Height: Bucks up to 95cm, Does up to 85cm
Weight up to 95+kg
Outside the mating season, bucks (males) roam around in their own herds separately from the does (females) and their young
The mating season, known as the 'rut' usually begins in October and lasts about a month, although mating can take place at any time from September to February
Does give birth to single fawns in June and early July
Not as vocal as Sika but suspicious does will bark.
In the rut Fallow Bucks groan
Unlike other deer species the antlers are palmated
A young buck with two single spikes is called a 'pricket'
By four years bucks should be showing palmation
Mature bucks cast their antlers in April/May and shed tgheir velvet in late August-September
Roe (Capreolus capreolus)
Roe is the smallest native deer
A true native it colonised the UK before the post-glacial separation from continental Europe
Males are called Bucks
Height Male (buck) ujp 74cm. Fedmale (doe) up to 70cm
Weight up to 27+kg
Roe have large black rimmed ears
The muzzle is black with two white patches on upper lip and white chin
The white caudal patch is prominent when alarmed
The summer coat is a bright foxy-red with a pale buff belly
Roe tend to be alone or in groups rather than herds
The rut takes place during late July and early August
Does normally give birth to one to three 'kids'
Kids have spotted coats for the first six weeks of life
Unlike other deer the implantation of the fertilised ovum into the womb is delayed for several months
Roe bark when alarmed
Roe bucks shed their antlers during November/December
Unlike other deer they grow their antlers during the winter which is usually completed by March
Chinese water (Hydropotes inermis)
Native of China and North Korea
Introduced to Woburn Abbey around 1900
It's scattered population across Bedfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are as a result of deliberate release and escapes
Height Male (Buck) up to 50cm, Female (Doe) up to 48cm
Weight up to 19+kg
No antlers but Bucks haver large protruding tusks which are generally only visible in adults. The tusks are used as weapons during the rut and in defence against predators
Chinese water deer have an even coloured pale brown coat
Large rounded ears give the deer a teddy bear look
Generally solitary forming only loose family associations
They tend to be more of a grazing species
Bucks and does form pairs during the rut in December and remain together until April.
Does give birth during May to June
They normally produce two or three fawns
They bark when they suspect danger
Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi)
Muntjac was first imported into the UK to Woburn Abbey in 1893
It has now colonised much of southern England following a number of deliberate releases and escapes
Muntjac have a short neck and haunched posture
Males (Bucks) have a ginger face with black stripes
Females (does) have a black diamond shape on their forehead
Height Bcks up to 49cm, Does up to 47cm
Weight up to 20+kg
The summer coat is a glossy chestnut-brown with a lighter throat and underparts
When alarmed the tail is held erect
Generally solitary but can be found in family groups or two or three
Their principle food is bramble
Unique among British deer in that it breeds continuously through the year
Doe can breed at 7 months and gestation is 210 days
They give birth to single fawns
Bucks have both upper canine tusks and antlers
Muntjac are known 'barking deer'
Muntjac bark is high pitched
Antlers are shed in May
Velvet is cleaned by September
As a matter of law, no one can own wild deer while they are alive
They are ferae naturae – wild things, things without an owner, res nullius
They become the property of the person who legally captured or killed them – in most cases, the properly licensed and authorised hunter, with legitimate permission over the land on which the deer was hunted and killed
Deer which are not the subject of legal hunting but which are killed illegally e.g. by poachers, become the property of the landowner or the owner of the sporting rights over the land concerned
If removed by the poacher, the offence of theft is then added to the offence of illegal killing
It is illegal to intentionally kill a deer at night. Night is between one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise
You cannot shoot deer outside the close season
It is illegal to shoot deer from a vehicle
Close Seasons for hunting deer in the UK
RED: Male 1st May-31 July (England and Wales), 21st October-30th June (Scotland); Female 1st April-31st October (England and Wales), 16th February-20 October (Scotland)
SIKA: Male 1st May-31 July (England and Wales), 21st October-30th June(scotland), Female 1st April-31st October (England and Wales), 16th February-20 October (Scotland)
FALLOW: Male 1st May-31 July (England and Wales), 1st May-31 July (scotland); Female 1st April-31st October (England and Wales), 16th February-20 October (Scotland)
ROE: Male 1st November-31st March (England and Wales), 21st October-31st March (Scotland) Female 1st April-31st October (England and Wales), 1st April-20th October (Scotland)
CHINESE WATER: Male and Female 1st April-31st October (England and Wales), 1st April-20th October (Scotland)
MUNTJAC: No Close Season for both Male and Female
Deer Legal Firearms
The minimum deer legal calibre to shoot all species of deer in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is a .243 with a 100gr bullet