Q: A question about stag antlers. How many points can a red stag in the wild be expected to grow when they are at their best in this country?

A: There are many variables which impact on the number of points, or tines on stag antlers, that individual stags will develop. These include the animal’s genetics, the environment it lives in and its access to good nutrition.

Genetics, nutrition and environment

Wild European red deer, of which our natives are a subspecies, rarely exceed 16 points though those with 18 or more do turn up. So in the UK those with a wild lineage will follow this rule, with animals that have the benefit of genetics, nutrition and environment producing trophies of up to 15 points and occasionally more than 16 points.

They can be found in parts of Scotland, northern England and the South West. The norm is somewhere between eight to 12 points, as found among our hill stags of the Scottish Highlands. This is less easy to define when the influence of improved or park animals comes into play. These are physically larger than our natives and have the potential to grow trophies in excess of 18 points. They usually occur in discrete populations or groups, generally in England. As they are free-living and come from self-sustaining populations they deserve to be classified as wild. But in terms of the trophies they produce, they are treated as European as opposed to Scottish, therefore requiring a higher threshold score when they are evaluated under CIC measurement rules.