Shooting deer with any smoothbore gun is illegal, however section seven of the 1991 Deer Act allows deer to be shot with a shotgun if the landowner has ‘reasonable grounds’ for believing that deer are causing damage to crops or any other form of property.

Though there are conditions surrounding this exception (most notably that the gun must be no smaller than 12 bore, and the shot size must be larger than AAA or a single slug), the BDS believes that the exemption is ‘out of date and open to exploitation’.

In a 49-page report titled Shotguns and their use on deer, the society reveals the results of testing various cartridge loads at distances of 20, 30, 40 and 50 metres on fixed targets, and the resulting likelihood of a humane kill.

The report found that there are ‘serious welfare issues’ involved when shooting deer with shotguns, and that ‘the use of shotguns on deer cannot be guaranteed to produce humane kills under most circumstances.’

This report has been released following suspicions that there has been a re-emergence of the illegal practice of driving deer, particularly muntjac, to a line of waiting guns.

The BDS board has voted unanimously for a change in legislation, which will allow the use of shotguns only for the purpose of humanely dispatching deer, and believes that rifles are ‘the clear choice for humane deer management’.

For more information and to download the report, visit: www.bds.org.uk