By Richard Prior
Sunday, 07 October 2012
Q) Managing the deer in conjunction with a large game shoot means that I have to pick my stalking dates in collaboration with the gamekeepers. Understandably they want to know when I am out, even on pre-arranged dates. With a lot of fallow and roe to cull I want to try to fix a system which suits everybody, yet allows me some flexibility. Can you offer some suggestions? (Name and address withheld)
A) The first step might be to encourage the gamekeepers to keep an eye open for concentrations of fallow deer. As stalkers, we naturally tend to keep our movements quiet, but we have to recognise that deer control is secondary, though essential, to the smooth running of a large shoot.
So often, gamekeepers get a feeling of being in opposition to the activities of the stalker, so prompt reports of suspicious cars, loose dogs and stray walkers show that you are on their side. Maybe an offer to join the beating team when they are short shows goodwill. In return, their news of deer movements can make your outings more rewarding. Contact can easily be made by mobile phone.
Simple signals can be used where practicable. I used to place a stone on one keeper’s gate so that if he heard a shot he could see it was me. Mutual goodwill has to be built up so that both sides can get on with their respective jobs.
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