ABOUT THE STUDY
Based on Anonymous Field Records from Deer Stalkers
Nicholas J. Aebischer, Christopher J. Wheatley, Hugh R. Rose.
The amount of wounding during routine culling is an important factor in the welfare of wild deer. Little information exists on factors determining shooting accuracy and wounding rates under field conditions in the UK.
In this study, 102 anonymous stalkers collected data on the outcomes and circumstances of 2281 shots. Using hot-deck imputation and generalised linear mixed modelling, we related the probability that a shot hit its target, and the probability that the shot killed the deer if it was hit, to 28 variables describing the circumstances of the shot.
Overall, 96% of deer were hit, of which 93% were killed outright. A reduced probability of hitting the target was associated with an uncomfortable firing position, too little time available, shooting off elbows or freehand, taking the head or upper neck as point of aim, a heavily obscured target, a distant target, shooting at females, lack of shooting practice and a basic (or no) stalker qualification.
An increase in the likelihood of wounding was associated with an uncomfortable firing position, shooting with insufficient time, a distant target (only when time was not sufficient), a bullet weight below 75 grains, a target concealed in thicket or on the move and an area rarely stalked.
To maximise stalking success and deer welfare, we recommend that stalkers ensure a comfortable firing position, use a gun rest, aim at the chest, use bullets heavier than 75 grains, avoid taking a rushed shot, shoot a distant animal only if there is plenty of time, fire only when the target is stationary, avoid shooting at an obscured animal, take care when the ground is unfamiliar, and do shooting practice at least once a month. The high miss rate of basic-level stalkers suggests that training should include additional firing practice under realistic shooting conditions.
This data for this study was collected in 2005 by BDS and forms the basis for ongoing improvements to Best Practice and BDS training. The data was statistically analysed and the paper published in 2014 online by PLOS one
A joint campaign is underway to inform members of the public about the need to give both pregnant or nursing deer and their young plenty of space when out enjoying the countryside.
Over the coming weeks, from mid-May to July, people may discover newly-born deer hidden in the grass or undergrowth and might mistakenly assume that they have been abandoned Please do not touch, disturb or move them as usually their mothers will not be far away.
The new Spring edition of our taster members’ Deer magazine Digital Deer is out now. Packed with deer news, articles and features.
The risk of acquiring a tick bite increases during springtime, with peak times from April to June, meaning there is no better time to refresh your precautions and help spread the word on being tick aware.
The following guidance from the UK HAS can be used to reduce the chance of acquiring a tick bite.