reevess_muntjac_1Of the six free living species of deer in great Britain only the Red Deer and Roe Deer are truly native to this country and even their populations have, over the years, been heavily ‘subsidised’ by introductions from elsewhere. The four other British species are ‘exotic’, with the Fallow Deer almost certainly brought to this country by the Normans, and three Asiatic species, Reeve’s Muntjac, Chinese Water Deer and Sika Deer, escaping or being deliberately released from Deer Parks and private collections.

Laws regarding the killing and taking of deer are not consistent throughout the UK (though a Game Licence is no longer needed to kill or take deer anywhere in the UK). In both Scotland and Northern Ireland the legislation is different from that governing England and Wales (eg see table below for open seasons).

While the Deer Acts and Orders contain exceptions, particularly to allow landowners to protect their crops (though conditions apply) from excessive damage, and to permit mercy killing of an animal to prevent suffering, the following are some of the more important provisions.

It is illegal to:

  • use anything except legal firearms to kill deer (bowhunting, for example, is illegal anywhere in the UK)
  • shoot out of season unless authorised to do so
  • shoot at night (one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise) except under licence
  • shoot from a moving vehicle, or use a vehicle to drive deer (‘vehicle’ includes aircraft)
  • sell venison in Scotland, except to a licensed venison dealer

 

 

Statutory OPEN Seasons for Deer

(the following species may be shot between these dates which are inclusive)

Species/sex

England and Wales

Scotland

Northern Ireland

Red
Stag

Aug 1 – Apr 30

Jul 1 – Oct 20

Aug 1 – Apr 30

Hind

Nov 1 – Mar 31

Oct 21 – Feb 15

Nov 1 – March 31

Fallow
Buck

Aug 1 – Apr 30

Aug 1 – Apr 30

Aug 1 – Apr 30

Doe

Nov 1 – Mar 31

Oct 21 – Feb 15

Nov 1 – March 31

Sika
Stag

Aug 1 – Apr 30

Jul 1 – Oct 20

Aug 1 – Apr 30

Hind

Nov 1 – Mar 31

Oct 21 – Feb 15

Nov 1 –  March 31

Roe
Buck

Apr 1 – Oct 31

Apr 1 – Oct 20

Doe

Nov 1 – Mar 31

Oct 21 – Mar 31

Red/sika hybrids
Stag

Aug 1 – Apr 30

Jul 1 – Oct 20

Aug 1 – Apr 30

Hind

Nov 1 – Mar 31

Oct 21 – Feb 15

Nov 1 –  March 31

Chinese water deer

(only found in England)

Buck

Nov 1 – Mar 31

Doe

Nov 1 – Mar 31

Muntjac

(only found in England)

Muntjac can be shot all year round

 

 

Page updated March 2014.

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