Cervus elaphus a close cousin of the larger American elk or wapiti , Russian maral, and sika stag (Cervus nippon), red deer have been introduced around the world as “exotics” from New Zealand to Texas and Canada; originating in Europe there are other large populations across the globe. The largest native herds with the best trophy quality are found in Hungary, Germany and Romania with Scotland being a close fourth for a smaller antler size but the most fantastic stalking experience. Ancient Romans to the modern day nobility of the United Kingdom such as the Duke of Bedford have kept red stag with them doing well in deer parks, game preserves and Scottish highland estates.
Red deer’s name sake describes their color varying from dark red to light brown.
Adult males are called stags and adult females are called hinds. Body weight can vary from 100-450 pounds (50-225 kg) and can be from 175 to 260 cm (69 to 100 “) at the shoulder in stags and hinds 160 to 210 cm (63 to 83“). Antlers can reach up to 50” or 120 cm tall and weigh 1 kg (2 pounds to 10 plus kg or more than 20 pounds of antlers weight but with an average central European wild length and weight of half that. Although giant 300” plus trophy red stag can be found in non-native lands, in the UK a 6×6 or perfectly symmetrical 12 point stag with full crowns large enough to hold a whiskey glass is called a “Royal” and a very hard to find 14 point is an “Imperial”.
.243 (100 grain minimum in the UK), 6.5mm in Central Europe or 270/280 Win, .308 Win, 30-06 Springfield, 7mm Rem Mag, and .300 Win Mag in North and South American as well as New Zealand. Archery is completely legal in North America, Hungary New Zealand, France and Spain; there are few other countries like Croatia with grey area laws for bow.
Breeding season known as the “Rut” is magical time around September to October depending on weather in the Northern Hemisphere and opposite in the southern hemisphere. Preferred hunting method is in a high seat outside the rut, stalking during breeding cycles.
With few natural predators and healthy stable managed populations, the red stag will be around a long time providing generations of future outdoors man the opportunity to hunt and enjoy this valuable resource.
Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), also known as “roe buck” is a common, diminutive deer from the moderate areas of Eurasia. They are a ton of fun to hunt because in some areas they are as common as rabbits. Usually, you’ll be either still hunting with your gamekeeper, or sitting in a blind. They can also be called in during the rut which makes them perfect for bowhunting. Calling in a rut-crazed roe buck can be super exciting! Driven hunts are also common in some areas during the late season management hunts, sometimes with dogs, and sometimes without.
Roe deer hunting starts early in the summer. Bucks strip their velvet in late May or early June. The best hunting though, is during the rut, between mid-July and mid-September, depending on where you’re hunting. European roe deer rut earlier than Siberian bucks. They start shedding their antlers by October, but you can sometimes pick up an inexpensive cull hunts until late winter.
Hunters recognize three main subspecies of roe buck:
- European roe deer can be hunted from Great Britain and Ireland to Poland and western Russia.
- Siberian roe deer are someone larger than their European cousins. They can be hunted in Kazakhstan, eastern Russia, and some other Asian countries.
- Chinese roe deer are found along the Pacific coast of Asia, south to the Amur.
The Rare Black Roe Buck
The Black Roe deer “Der Schwarze Geist”, which means The Black Ghost have been known since the year 980 AD. According to records of that time the bishop of Minden and Milo every single year he received a number of Black Roe deer for his kitchen.
The current population of Black Roe deer were imported and introduced in Germany by Count Wilhelm Schaumburg-Lippe in the 16th century. Those animals came from either Portugal or Spain. Since a small population of Black Roe deer exists in northwestern Spain; the animals probably came from there.
In Germany the Black Roe deer is found in the northern part of the country. The habitat includes Halle but does not exist east of river Elben and spreads out north to Hamburg. In northwest it extends to the North Sea coast and further into the north eastern part of Holland. Towards the south the Black Roe deer habitat stops at Magdeburg, Dortmund and Hannover. During World War I, Emperor Wilhelm II asked a German soldier where he came from. The soldier answered his homestead was Haste. The emperor gladly replied, “It is where the Black Roe deer exists.”
Forty years ago, Black Roe deer only appeared by coincidence. The biggest number were found in the forest of Haster close to Hannover in 1933 where about 90% of the animals were black as normal colored Roe deer were shot aiming at establishing a pure black population. German sources estimate the number of black animals to be approximately 20% of the German Roe deer population. Our guide does not agree. In his opinion no more than 5% of the Roe deer in Northern Germany are black. During the evolution black colored Roe deer were developed through mutation due to a high concentration of pigment in the coat. This phenomenon is called melanism and is well known among Fallow deer, Green pheasant, panther and squirrel.
From “Black Ghost from the Devil’s Moore” by Henning Korvel
I doubt the 11th Duke of Bedford had any idea how successful the Muntjac deer would thrive in the English countryside after leaving the deer park gate open during WWII. Muntjac were originally residents of Asian deciduous and coniferous woodland where they are now endangered. Now they are a common species when hunting in Europe. They are the smallest of the six species of wild deer in Britain. Accidentally introduced to Woburn abbey in the 19th century which then led to being incorporated into the British Deer Society officially and recognizing them as a UK huntable deer species.
A common name for the Muntjac is “Barking Deer.“ This comes from the loud bark given when alarmed and or as communication between adults. Adult body weight ranges from 10 KG to 18 KG (22-40lb). Bucks (adult male) are slightly larger than Doe’s (adult female) but larger weights have been recorded.
Muntjac are russet brown in their summer and dark brown in their winter. Bucks have long pedicles with short antlers of about 5” or 10 cm long, shedding in May to July and growing new antlers over the summer. They have visible canine tusks about 1” long or 2-3cm, although smaller than Chinese Water Deer (CWD) tusk which can be more than 3-4 times longer and without any antler. Both bucks and does have very large facial glands below the eyes. They have a short wide tail held high like a whitetail when alarmed.
They have proven themselves very successful in establishing themselves in British countryside. As well as private gardens. Populations can reach very high densities and can cause a lot of crop damage. In the wild the life span can be up to 10 years old and captivity 16 years, but this is exceptional.
Muntjac differ from all other species of deer in Britain because there is no defined breeding season or rut time. They are capable of breeding from just 8 months old with a gestation period of only 7 months, normally giving birth to 1 fawn and are able to breed again within days after giving birth. Be careful when culling doe’s as they breed all year and you may not see a young fawn.
Although there is no actual muntjac hunting season, winter stalks in January to March when the grass is short are most productive. Early evening /morning hours tend to be the most productive either as a walk and stalk or from high seats.
If anyone is interested in hunting these small fanged deer or the Chinese Water Deer in a combination hunt, just let us know.