ABOUT THE STUDY
Based on Anonymous Field Records from Deer Stalkers
Nicholas J. Aebischer, Christopher J. Wheatley, Hugh R. Rose.
The amount of wounding during routine culling is an important factor in the welfare of wild deer. Little information exists on factors determining shooting accuracy and wounding rates under field conditions in the UK.
In this study, 102 anonymous stalkers collected data on the outcomes and circumstances of 2281 shots. Using hot-deck imputation and generalised linear mixed modelling, we related the probability that a shot hit its target, and the probability that the shot killed the deer if it was hit, to 28 variables describing the circumstances of the shot.
Overall, 96% of deer were hit, of which 93% were killed outright. A reduced probability of hitting the target was associated with an uncomfortable firing position, too little time available, shooting off elbows or freehand, taking the head or upper neck as point of aim, a heavily obscured target, a distant target, shooting at females, lack of shooting practice and a basic (or no) stalker qualification.
An increase in the likelihood of wounding was associated with an uncomfortable firing position, shooting with insufficient time, a distant target (only when time was not sufficient), a bullet weight below 75 grains, a target concealed in thicket or on the move and an area rarely stalked.
To maximise stalking success and deer welfare, we recommend that stalkers ensure a comfortable firing position, use a gun rest, aim at the chest, use bullets heavier than 75 grains, avoid taking a rushed shot, shoot a distant animal only if there is plenty of time, fire only when the target is stationary, avoid shooting at an obscured animal, take care when the ground is unfamiliar, and do shooting practice at least once a month. The high miss rate of basic-level stalkers suggests that training should include additional firing practice under realistic shooting conditions.
This data for this study was collected in 2005 by BDS and forms the basis for ongoing improvements to Best Practice and BDS training. The data was statistically analysed and the paper published in 2014 online by PLOS one
Information has recently been shared relating to changes to DSC1 and DSC2 made by Deer Management Qualifications (DMQ).. These changes come into effect on April the 1st.
Due to the planned relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, the BDS will from March the 8th be resuming delivery of DSC1 and Deer Management Courses. Find out more.
The Farm Advisory Service has produced a great new video detailing How to Complete a Habitat Impact Assessment.
In the video Conservation Consultant, Helen Bibby, and Professor Rory Putman, Chair of the British Deer Society & visiting Professor at the University of Glasgow, take you through all the key steps on how to undertake a Habitat Impact Assessment.