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Deer management – Jon Snowdon on details for progress

Jon Snowdon and his colleagues in the deer management group collate whatever detail they can on the ground to help them with their task and to stay safe

The deer management group I run has a system that ensures we are always in contact via text when a colleague is on the ground.

This information is sent by the individual concerned to every member of the group, and added later to a full report. The following describes the type of information we share.


Time on and off

This is primarily for a member’s safety.

The text ‘GDMG on the ground’ and ‘GDMG off the ground’ lets the whole Greenlee Deer Management Group know where a colleague is. If a text ‘off the ground’ does not arrive after a few hours then members of the group will contact that person to check all is OK.

This information is collated onto the main fuller report that gives information about the group’s (and an individual’s) activities. It gives the amount of time an individual and a group have spent on the ground managing deer. It also tells us the average time it takes to cull one deer.

A roe deer on high alert in a forest glade

For example, at the end of the season 165 hours divided by 19 equals 8.68 hours per deer. The figures can also give some insight into the population for an area.

If the hours per carcass goes up and recorded sightings go down then it is likely the deer population is dropping for that area. This may be the aim of the deer management group for any particular estate.

Some areas are much more challenging to remove deer and that would also show up on the hours spent in that regard.


Wind direction/strength

This gives us knowledge of where deer are seen in an area – useful information for each manager. It also helps to focus the most productive effort in a particular area and, in turn, helps to avoid time being wasted.


Route taken

Again, invaluable information to each member of the group. The text will show what was seen and where. If a member is going in the next day or even a week later and takes note of past information, they should have a very good idea of where and when the deer may be in a particular area on an estate. This information builds up over time and gives a clear picture of deer movement on an estate.

Stalkers keep in touch like this


What was seen

Where have the deer been seen? Do they have young? Also, information on other wildlife that may be of interest to an estate. Our maps have all the woodland and fields numbered. Some of the woodland is also split into smaller sections.

This information gives us concise areas where deer are observed. The deer taken are recorded even more precisely into three-metre square areas that can be observed on Google Earth, which is really useful.

Intelligence on deer movement is vital for planning effective
deer control and conservation


Deer taken

This details the sex, species, weight, health, precise placement of the shot and carcass declaration number.

It also highlights episodes such as signs of poaching, dogs out of control, deer RTA’s (road traffic accidents) and where people have been seen walking on an estate at a regular time.


Deer damage

This flags up areas that we will probably have to concentrate on if the damage is found to be excessive. This may seem like an overly onerous task, but it takes very little time and produces invaluable information for the deer manager. We have found over the years that it is through this sharing of information to the group, the cull rate has become more efficient.

What we do is important to the estates we work for. Changes in government funding for initiatives such as rewilding are very important to them and the countryside. Cull figures will have to be achieved. These are not figures plucked out of the air; they enable the sustainable management of deer.

Information like ours should help to keep a particular piece of ground open for years to come.