Open seasons for shooting deer have been carefully worked out to allow hinds and stags to breed and move to different feeding grounds. Different species have different seasons - although it is legal to shoot muntjac all year round.

deer shooting season

The deer shooting season

If you’re a keen stalker, then you’ll need to know which is the deer shooting season for the different species, and the different dates for stags and hinds. It’s also crucial to have the right rifle for deer stalking in the right calibre. (You can check our guide to UK shooting seasons for game here.)

A few thoughts on deer and stalking

  • It’s always best to shoot deer that are thin and unhealthy looking.
  • Cull the deer in March and April because there will be less foliage for the herd to hide behind and you can pick out the right deer more clearly.
  • Some deer, such as as Sika, have a reputation to being tougher to kill. The species does have a habit of staying in cover, as do roe bucks in long early summer grass. However with the right deer ammunition a clean shot should be quite attainable and in fact Sika are slightly smaller and lighter than fallow, so it’s curious they have attained this reputation in some quarters.
  • Remember that young deer may have immature markings and  can be covered in spots or stripes, which helps them to camouflage themselves. As they grow older they rely on safety for alertness and speed, so this markings face and disappear.
  • Don’t walk along skylines, for obvious reasons. Deers are very good at spotting movement.
  • In poor weather, deer may be extra nervous and edgy, because they are unable to see or smell their predators.
  • Don’t jump across streams and burns – deer are very sensitive to vibrations.
  • Use the right equipment; walking boots to stop you turning an ankle and a stick to steady your way.
  • If you’d like to be a professional deer stalker you’ll find gamekeeping training at agricultural colleges with specialist options in deer management.
red deer

The Scottish red deer

Red deer shooting season

England and Wales:

Aug 1-April 30 (stags)

Nov 1 – Mar 31 (hinds)

Scotland:

July 1-Oct 20 (stags)

Oct 21-Feb 15 (hinds)

Northern Ireland:

Aug 1-April 30 (stags)

Nov 1-March 31 (hinds)

 

Sika stag

Sika deer

Sika deer shooting season

England and Wales:

Aug 1-April 30 (stags)

Nov 1 – March 31 (hinds)

Scotland:

July 1-Oct 20 (stags)

Oct 21-Feb 15 (hinds)

Northern Ireland:

Aug 1-April 30 (stags)

Nov 1-March 31 (hinds)

 

Red/Sika hybrids shooting season

England and Wales:

Aug 1-April 30 (stags)

Nov 1 – March 31 (hinds)

Scotland:

July 1-Oct 20 (stags)

Oct 21-Feb 15 (hinds)

Northern Ireland:

Aug 1-April 30 (stags)

Nov 1-March 31 (hinds)

 

Fallow deer buck

Fallow deer

Fallow deer shooting season

England and Wales:

Aug 1-April 30 (bucks)

Nov 1 – March 31 (does)

Scotland:

Aug 1-April 30 (bucks)

Oct 21-Feb 15 (does)

Northern Ireland:

Aug 1-April 30 (bucks)

Nov 1-March 31 (does)

 

Roe buck

Roe buck

Roe deer shooting season

England and Wales:

April 1-Oct 31 (bucks)

Nov 1-Mar 31 (does)

Scotland:

April 1-Oct 20 (bucks)

Oct 21-Mar 31 (does)

 
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Chinese water deer doe Wiki

Chinese water deer

Chinese Water deer shooting season

England and Wales:

Nov 1-Mar 31 (bucks)

Nov 1-March 31 (does)

 

Muntjac

Muntjac

Muntjac open season

Is this small barking species subject to the deer shooting season? Actually no, there is no closed season for this species. However when culling female muntjac, it is recommended to choose immature or heavily pregnant does to avoid leaving dependent young.