Friday, 19 February 2010

Stand up and be Counted

I thought today was to be our last day of hind culling. It turns out I was wrong-it was yesterday!
All the estates in this area are members of a Deer Management Group. Each year, a single day is set for all the estates to count their deer. (Because it's done in one day, and the estates liaise with their neighbours, double-counting is avoided.) Today was that day.
So my colleagues and I went off to our different beats and scoured our ground. It's a LOT of walking- and a lot of sitting, freezing and cross-eyed, as you try and get an accurate count of the bigger herds. The biggest herds you count several times and then might have to take an average.
It's important to get as accurate a count as possible, as this is the figure that you'll base the subsequent years cull on. This, coupled with your larder records (which will show the pregnancy rate amongst your hinds) allows your cull be be geared to whether you want your deer population to rise, fall or remain static.
And you thought we just went out and shot stuff.........!
So I returned to base, footsore and feeling slightly overwhelmed. My colleagues and I have hit this beat really hard this winter and I'd still counted over 700 head of deer. The vast majority of them were hinds/calves and those hinds will be dropping a whole new generation of calves come June.
But, for now, it's time to turn my attentions to all those other things that have been on hold for the entire stalking season. There's never a dull moment........

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