The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is not a big place but it punches well above its weight when it comes to deer hunting.
Unlike almost any other country in the world the British government doesn’t get involved in issuing tags or cull targets for hunters in the UK. In the main it is entirely up to the land owner or the owner of the hunting rights to decide what they are going to shoot. You can kill what you like as long as it is done by a legal method and the species is in season. The only real legal way to kill deer in the UK is with a firearm and during the daytime. Daytime is defined as one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset, it is illegal to use any artificial illumination to hunt deer. Bow hunting and hunting with dogs is forbidden here.
We have six species of wild deer on this small island with roe and red deer being classed as true natives and fallow, sika, muntjac and Chienese water deer all also roaming the land and avaliable to hunt. The hunting of deer is governed by seasons which are different in England and Scotland.
To hunt deer in the UK you don’t need to pass any formal qualifications although they do exist and most hunters do take them voluntarily. The Deer Stalkers Certificate Level 1 is the nationally recognised qualification but as I said it is not a legal requirement. The onus is on the hunter to understand the law and know the seasons before hunting. The only species in the UK that doesn’t have a season is the muntjac because they breed all year around. You do however need a firearms certificate which is not a right. There are very strict checks done by the police and your doctor before you can have a weapon and you are only allowed to buy a calibre that is suitable for the species you wish to hunt. Ammunition is also regulated by certificate and you are not allowed to buy ammo for firearms that are not on your certificate. It is actually quite complicated but we have virtually zero gun crime so the system flawed as it is works. Semi automatic weapons and pistols are also not available in the UK above .22
Hunters from around the globe always find it quite hard to get to grips with how, what on the face of it looks like a free for all with regards to deer hunting in the UK works. Well it does and it works well. The deer population in the UK is at a historic high with all species expanding thier range year on year. The quality of trophies is also seemingly getting larger with roe and muntjac especially following this trend.
Summer hunting in the UK is all about the roe deer. Come late July the bucks will be muscled up and ready for the rut, this is one of the most exciting times in our hunting calendar. Roe are usually territorial and solitary until the rut when the bucks will chase after the does and this is when the big boys come out of hiding. The roe buck season runs from 1st April until 31st October and the does from 1st November until 31st March.
The autumn is the time when our large species have thier rut. The fallow, sika and red all fill the woods and hills with thier groaning, whistling and roaring. What a time to be on this special island with the opportunity that it gives the hunter. The large species have a long season with bucks coming in at the start of August and out on 30th April, the does start on 1st November until the 30th March so there are lots of opportunities to bag a deer from the Highlands of Scotland to the wonderful chalk downs of southern England.
If you are looking to hunt Chienese water deer then both the bucks and does have the same season from 1st November until 31st October with the rut taking place in December. The bucks use thier tusks to fight and they do rip chunks out of each other. It really is something to see.
Hunting in the UK is regulated by private ownership and the eagerness of the stalkers who love to hunt looking after what they have.
If you want to hunt in the UK I would recommend using an estate who have the species you want to shoot. Like with any industry there are some charlatans out there so do your home work.
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