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Monday, 1 February 2016

From the Highseat; Abnormal Antlers

A lovely morning, complete with crimson sunrise, owls and great company, just continued to get better and better. We parked in the dark and waited for the sunrise to illuminate the world, when it got light enough to see, it was evident that we parked in the right spot. A Muntjac buck joined us just 150 yards away and he was a lovely specimen too and he eventually joined us for the ride home.

Muntjac deer at Dumbleton Hall (cropped)
A reeves muntjac buck with fairly typical antlers by
By Nilfanion (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Once he was dealt with, we set off walking on a route of 3 to 4 miles to see if we could find a Chinese Water deer for my colleague today. We saw a few but not as many as we had 6 months ago and it has perplexed us as to why.

Anyway, we spotted another muntjac in the distance, he hadn't seen us but was moving slowly away towards cover and I knew where he was going. When we eventually got close he had vanished into cover and we stood silently scanning with our binoculars. Then I heard it, a crash as the little buck butted the pheasant feeder to see if grain would fall out, I have seen and/or heard this behaviour a few times now and it narrowed down his position a bit, a minute later I glimpsed him leaving cover towards the east and I set up on sticks to intercept him. As he ambled off I squeaked him to a stop and dropped him where he stood. He was a good size buck but with deformed antlers and I was left wondering if he was from the same gene pool as one I shot a few years ago also with deformed antlers.

The recent muntjac buck with deformed antlers

The buck from a few years ago, also with deformed antlers. Maybe the two were related.


Next week we will be publishing an article in the bushscience series all about antlers; how they grow, what they are made of and why deer need them. 

With the buck on my back now we headed off on our circuit but found a dead and headless CWD in just another few yards, sadly confirming our fears that some poaching had been going on. It took the shine off an otherwise perfect morning and left us with a quandary as to what we can do to stop it.

In light of this recent poaching the 'Hunter Gatherer Ethics' post this week will be on the topic of poaching


Go on out in the countryside but please leave it unspoiled for the rising generation!

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