What about shooting them after dark?

Q:Is it legal for me to use 
a thermal-imaging device 
to shoot deer?

A: Thermal imaging is a highly effective way of spotting a target and is popular with pest controllers. However, the value of thermal-imaging devices in deer stalking is limited by the fact that it is illegal to be shooting deer at night — that is, from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise. Of course, it is perfectly lawful to use a thermal-imaging device for counting deer at night, 
and you can use one before dawn 
to locate deer that you need to cull 
as soon as the “one hour before sunrise” rule permits you to do so.

A problem when using 
a thermal imager before switching to a conventional scope is that your natural night vision may be seriously affected for a couple of minutes by the bright thermal screen until your eye adjusts once more to the relative darkness of your scope. Turn your imager to “white hot” to minimise the brightness of the screen and if possible use a binocular imager. This will greatly reduce eye strain.

Lamping deer after dark – why not?

Q: Why can’t we lamp deer after dark? It seems crazy to me that the only folk who can control deer between sunset and sunrise are poachers with dogs and rifles – while most coppers stand back and let them get on with it. If responsible stalkers were allowed to carry out a cull at night, the wrong-doers would be forced to stay home at night, surely?

George Wallace says: While understanding your emotions, let me say straight away that I am fundamentally opposed to shooting deer at night, unless there is absolutely no alternative.

Where deer are undisturbed they can be seen out in the fields at any time of day. Harassment makes them first crepuscular and then, if shooting persists until dark, completely nocturnal, not coming out to feed until long after legal shooting time.

Research some time ago showed that shooting deer at night causes a great deal of stress because their last element of safety has gone. We are not, I hope, in the business of creating unnecessary stress in our most beautiful wild animals.

Hi-tech stalking

Is the latest hi-tech sighting system for stalkers ruining the sport element?

The only acceptable excuse for shooting deer at night is when they are doing serious damage to crops after dark and cannot be shot at any other time because they are simply not there. They should then be shot where they are doing the damage, not anywhere else, or they will not learn to avoid the crops.

If you want to patrol your land at night, do you really need to be shooting deer or anything else? If you do want to shoot something then rabbits and foxes are legitimate targets.

If you feel that your presence with lamp and rifle will deter poachers, does it matter what quarry you are after?