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Welcome to The British Deer Society

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Learn about British wild deer, stalking, management and deer photography. We are a charity working to enable British wild deer can exist in today's environment and ensure that their future is secure for generations to come. You will find this site full of information, pictures, news and views on many deer related topic. You can book courses, buy books, DVDs, and equipment online - everything you need in one place!


There are current intermittent problems with the phone lines at our Fordingbridge office. 

If you are unable to get through please contact us by email and we will call you as soon as we can:


New website coming very soon.......watch this space!


Deer Urine Lure survey July 2015

The British Deer Society would like to thank all members of the Society and of BASC who engaged in the recent survey into the usage of deer urine lures which has now closed. The reason behind the survey is that deer urine has been identified as a potential carrier of the prion which causes Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) which is currently causing major problems for deer populations  in North America. This condition, which causes vacuoles to form in the brain rendering the deer insensitive and without control of body function, is unfortunately always fatal to many species of deer. Currently, there have been no reported cases of CWD or other TSE in deer in Great Britain (GB) or Europe. Given the consequences of CWD observed in North America, it is imperative that GB remains free of the disease. Literature on the disease, its causes and symptoms, transportation and transmission, control and eradication schemes is all available on the internet with a summary on www.bds.org.uk.
The results of the survey of 12,000 deer interested persons was good; 1,700 replies were received, some 15% of the total. What was particularly interesting was the large number of people who either didn’t know about, or use, deer urine lures, also the comments of the smaller number of those who were aware of them, or indeed, did use them.  What became apparent was that some (but not all) users perceive that deer urine lures do work in some circumstances. It was also apparent that synthetic versions are also regarded by some as being effective, as are home-made lures collected from deer culled in the UK.
However one aspect which apparently wasn’t noticed, and is therefore potentially worrying, was the possible risk that lure products containing urine collected from North American deer could be contaminated with CWD prions. These prions are invisible and almost undetectable so the risk of unwittingly transmitting a prion to a deer here, or anywhere else in the world via urine exists. The chances of prions coming into Britain in this way may be low but the impact of an outbreak here would be catastrophic. Every infected deer would likely die and could spread the prions to others, either directly or indirectly by contaminating the surrounding environment for long periods of time.
We hope readers will now appreciate why The British Deer Society is currently concerned about the importation and use of natural deer urine lure products particularly any which are sourced  from North America. 
In summary, for those intending to use lures, the safest option is probably to only use synthetic lures. Alternatively, natural lures taken from the same locality in which the product is to be used may pose a lower risk than imported lures. However, for natural urine lures it also is worth noting that CWD is not the only disease which may be transmitted in urine and that other infections or diseases, some of which are already present in the UK, e.g. tuberculosis or leptospirosis, may also be spread this way, so probably the truly wisest course of action to avoid any disease risks would be to avoid using lures or only use synthetic lures.
Based on current scientific evidence, using (or encouraging the trade in) natural deer urine lure products containing deer urine sourced from outside of the European Union and, in particular, from North America should be avoided because it may risk users unwittingly introducing CWD to the UK.
Thank you again for your engagement, it has been a very interesting and revealing exercise and we are indebted to BASC and to BDS members for taking part. If anyone has any comments or concerns, or would like to obtain further information about CWD please contact The British Deer Society


Intrasexual selection drives sensitivity to pitch, formants

and duration in the competitive calls of fallow bucks

Pitcher et al  - new research paper  published in  BMC Evolutionary

Research supported by BDS


Fallow deer are all about the bass when sizing up rivals

Phys Org News-August 16, 2015

During the deer's breeding season, or rut, the researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and ETH Zürich, played male fallow deer (bucks) in Petworth Park in West Sussex, a variety of different calls that had been digitally manipulated to change the pitch and length and analysed their responses. The bucks treated lower pitched and longer calls as more threatening, by looking towards source of the call sooner and for longer, than others.  Fallow bucks attracted the attention of the researchers because of their intriguing calling behaviour. Males are silent for most of the year, but call intensely for the brief period of the rut. Bucks pull their larynx towards their chest when they call, lengthening their vocal tract and deepening their calls. Bucks also call faster and have lower pitched calls than their larger cousins, red deer. 

Larger and more dominant fallow bucks tend to make lower frequency calls. As animals become tired from competing for mates their calls become shorter and higher frequency. The researchers found that the bucks are able to hear subtle differences and make judgements about the level of competition they might face from the caller.

While humans would struggle to hear the differences in the deer's calls, we do make judgements about each other based on the pitch of our voices. Studies cited by the researchers showed that men perceive others with lower voices as being more physically and socially dominant.

Dr Ben Pitcher, said:

"Deep calls help to beat other males in the quest for mates, and over generations competition between males for mates has driven the evolution of deeper, lower pitched and longer calls.

"Just like humans, fallow bucks can listen to the sounds of a rival's voice and assess if they are dominant or pose a threat.

Dr Alan McElligott, from QMUL and co-author of the study, said:

"This is the first time we've been able to see in experiments the importance of the pitch of calls to competition between males in a non-human mammal.

"The differences in call are subtle but they clearly mean a lot to the bucks that hear them. Bucks get into a lot of confrontations during the annual rut and being able to tell from a distance how big and how fresh another buck is might help them avoid being on the end of an unnecessary beating."

CLICK ON "READ MORE"  to download the full paper....


British Deer Society launches The BDS Skills Award:

a major new training initiative for members and non-members

skills award pic

BDS Chairman Michael Thick (right) signing up to The BDS Skills Award

The British Deer Society (BDS) has launched a major new training initiative The BDS Skills Award aimed at deerstalkers, deer managers and anyone with an interest in increasing their knowledge about deer.
The BDS Skills Award, which has been created in response to demand from stalkers for continuation training in the form of skills development, has been introduced after a long period of consultation throughout the sector. Available to both BDS members and non-members, the award takes the form of a progressive learning programme based on the continuous acquisition of skills with awards being made at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels.
Each level of award comprises a number of different course components, some delivered by the BDS and some provided by a range of other organisations. Certain course elements are mandatory while others can be chosen according to the student’s preference. Each course component is awarded a points value and when enough points have been awarded the relevant level of award may be claimed.
Mandatory elements of the training include achieving Deer Stalking Certificate 1 (DSC1) for the Bronze level, DSC2 for the Silver level, and attendance at a BDS Deer Management Course, or equivalent, for the Gold level. Other areas of BDS training include advanced shooting skills, habitat assessment, butchery and high seat use. Points will also be awarded for training delivered by providers, such as all-terrain vehicle and off-road driving, NRA range conducting officer courses and attendance at Best Practice events run by the Deer Initiative.
Enrolment for the award costs £40 for each level or £100 to cover all three. All courses can also be taken as part of personal skills development programme without the need to pursue the award.
Dave Goffin, Training Manager at the BDS, commented: “We have been looking for some time at introducing the means for BDS members and non-members to benefit from continuing personal development and to address skills and training beyond that covered in DSC1 and 2. We now have around 30 different courses or qualifications that can be incorporated into The BDS Skills Award system and the fact that this new initiative is extremely varied will undoubtedly make it appeal to a large number of applicants.”

For more information:


For an application form:




Jonny Bruce

Help bring poachers to justice

with the new PAW Scotland poaching and coursing incident recording notebook

The British Deer Society (BDS) has managed the production of a pocket notebook laid out in a design that encourages the general public to accurately record poaching and coursing incidents. The BDS, which received assistance and co-funding from the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and Scottish Land and Estates, will also help promote and publicise the use of the new notebook in a bid to bring poachers and coursers to justice.

The new notebook was launched at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair held earlier this month at Scone Palace. It has been released by the Poaching and Coursing Priority Group, a subset of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Scotland (PAW Scotland) which was set up to fight wildlife crime and includes the police, land managers, conservationists and the Scottish Government.

Designed to fit into a car glove box or a pocket, the notebook is formatted to enable the user to record accurate and detailed information should they witness a poaching or coursing incident to ensure as much data as possible can be passed on to the police. In addition it encourages the witness to record the reporting of the incident and of the subsequent actions taken.
John Bruce, Chairman of the PAW Scotland Poaching and Coursing Priority Group and Trustee Director and Chairman of the BDS Scottish Council at the BDS commented: “The BDS is delighted that this new notebook is now available. Witnesses have been known to forget details or become confused about an event even relatively soon after it has taken place but the notebook means they can rapidly enter accurate observations, which should assist with the prosecution of a perpetrator. We encourage everyone to join the fight against wildlife crime so do contact the BDS to request your free notebook.”

Further information is also available from www.PAW.Scotland.gov.uk

BDS at the CLA

There was plenty of BDS activity recently at the CLA Game Fair at Harewood House where periodic rain was interspersed with glorious sunshine over the three days. Undeterred by the heavy showers the show was well attended with many visitors beating a path to the BDS. In addition to displaying BDS membership, sales and training initiatives, on Friday the BDS Skills Award was launched, Norman Ball of North East England Branch was presented with the Jim Taylor Page Trophy and Charles Smith Jones signed copies of his book The Deerstalker's Bedside Book. The British Deer Farms and Parks Association had a spectacular display of antlers and wildlife artist Nigel Artingstall showcased a collection of his watercolours and prints.

CLA2015 Charles Smith Jones

Charles Smith-Jones signing copies of his new book

Branch committee members CLA 2015


Society President Michael Strang Steel (far right) and North East England branch committee members join the Chairman for the Jim Taylor Page Trophy presentation to Norman Ball (second left)


Poaching and Rural Crime

The shooting community are often those most affected by, or witness to rural crime. We provide the eyes and ears of the countryside and often suffer the consequences of rural crime. Poaching can lead to a number of animal welfare issues, serious loss of income from illegal taking of game and fish and the damage which many poachers do to crops and land. Poachers are usually involved with many other rural crimes from theft of dogs and livestock to burglary.

BDS is committed to increasing awareness of poaching as a serious wildlife crime and is looking to build better trust and relationships between the police and local communities with a view to improving prevention activity, intelligence and enforcement success.

BDS is an active member of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime UK (PAW UK) which helps statutory and non-government organisations to work together to combat wildlife crime. Its objectives are to reduce wildlife crime through effective and targeted enforcement, better regulation and improved awareness. Wildlife crime includes offences like poaching, killing or disturbing protected species or damaging their breeding and resting places and illegally trading in endangered species. It is one of the pressures that can push animal and plant species closer to extinction.

Read more here…………….

Poaching pic

The British Deer Society welcomes science on shooting accuracy and wounding rates 

An important study on deer welfare during shooting has been published in the prestigious international science journal PLOS ONE. The peer-reviewed report is titled ‘Factors associated with shooting accuracy and wounding rate of four managed wild deer species in the UK, based on anonymous field records from deerstalkers.’  The report found that shooting accuracy and wounding rates varied between deerstalkers and identified some of the key reasons why. The British Deer Society (BDS) who initiated and conducted the study with scientific support from the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, welcomes the results, which confirm many current shooting guidelines as best practice, and identify others that require improvement. 

To maintain high standards of animal welfare when shooting deer, the report's authors recommend shooting from a supported position when the deer is stationary and un-obscured, shooting only without haste and preferably when the target is within 100m. The authors promote the use of a rifle rest and aiming at the heart/lung area rather than the head or neck. They also emphasised the importance of ongoing shooting practice and achieving recognised stalking qualifications, which were found key to accurate shooting. 

BDS Chairman, Mark Nicolson said: “It is encouraging to observe that many current recommended practices are sound and how important this study is for making further improvements to best practice guidance on deer stalking in the pursuance of deer welfare. This of course is the raison d'etre of the Society, and we will be exploring further ways of disseminating the findings of the report into the training and guidance that is already provided by BDS”.

The full report can be found at:


Top areas for reported Deer Vehicle Collisions 

Across the UK it's estimated there could be between 40,000 - 74,000 deer-related motor vehicle accidents, resulting in several hundred human injuries and several human fatalities each year.  Deer Vehicle Collisions (DVCs) are very widespread throughout almost all parts of England as well as increasing parts of Wales.


The Deer Initiative’s (DI) research of reported Deer Vehicle Collisions for England and Wales 2008 ­ 2013 has been released listing the top areas:


Collison site map 

Locations of reported deer road casualties and related DVCs (grey stars). The most prominent clusters across the country where highest localised tolls of deer incidents have been recorded per 5km tetrad are highlighted in red. 

The DI together with the Highways Agency is reminding motorists to be ‘Deer Aware’ as collisions between deer and vehicles increase in England and Wales at this time of year. October through to December is considered a high-risk time as many deer will be on the move to and from rutting grounds during the autumn mating season.   

Dr Jochen Langbein, who has been working with the DI on Deer Vehicle Collisions (DVCs) for the past 10 years, said: “Aside from the surge in activity by our three largest deer species (fallow, sika and red deer) during their autumn rut, as days shorten and the clocks go back, peak traffic times also coincide with dawn and dusk when activity of all deer species is at its daily peak”.

For a fuller list of road names or areas with the highest number of DVC reports please visit the Deer Initiative website www.thedeerinitiative.co.uk

Be Deer Aware: Top tips are:

• Be aware that further deer may well cross after the one you may have noticed, as deer will more often move around in groups than alone.

• After dark, do use full-beams when there is no opposing traffic. The headlight beam will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway and provide greater driver reaction time. BUT, when a deer or other animals is noted on the road, dim your headlights as animals startled by the beam may ‘freeze’ rather than leaving the road.

•  Don’t over-swerve to avoid a deer. If a collision with the animal seems inevitable, then hit it while maintaining full control of your car. The alternative of swerving into oncoming traffic or a ditch could be even worse. An exception here may be motorcyclists, who are at particular risk when in direct collisions with animals.

• Only break sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following traffic. Try to come to stop as far in front of the animal(s) as possible to enable it to leave the roadside without panic.

• Report any deer-vehicle collisions to the police, who will contact the local person who can best help with an injured deer at the roadside. Do not approach an injured deer yourself it may be dangerous.

If you wish to report a Deer Vehicle Collision or to find out more on safety advice please visit www.deeraware.com 


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