Only Roe and Red deer are native to the UK, but other species have been introduced and therefore it is not unusual to see muntjac, sika, and fallow as well in the wild.
My Mum has always been fascinated by deer. When we discovered this, we did our best to take her to places we knew deer were present in the hope that she would see some of these elusive animals.
On one occasion, we’d heard that a local tourist attraction had recently acquired a small herd of Sika deer so we took Mum on an outing there.
We found the enclosure within the grounds, and as she and I sat quietly on the benches provided, Hubby stood by the gate and waited. It wasn’t long before a small deer came out from the undergrowth, its curiosity gradually getting the better of it as it edged closer to where he was standing. Mum was holding her breath with the excitement of a young child when she realised that he was soon going to be within touching distance. Animal and Man were separated by only a foot or so when 2 women, totally oblivious to the magical moment taking place, walked into the enclosure from the other side, slamming the gate shut behind them as they carried on with their conversation. And like the deer, the moment was gone.
In the woods where we walk every day, there are Muntjac deer. We have seen several, one as it bounded over the fence some 20 feet away, and another as it’s backside disappeared into the thicket when we rounded a corner on one of our ‘off the beaten track’ routes. One ambled across our path one morning and the dog didn’t even notice. We were also driving along one afternoon and a pair of muntjac came out from the woodland and cut across the road in front of us.
They are tiny, not much bigger than a medium sized dog (our dog weighs in at 14 ½ kg) and when we saw one grazing by the hedgerow, I had to look twice.
Roe and Red deer are common in the New Forest. Our previous dog decided to ‘play’ with some and went bounding off after them. Despite our whistles and calls, there was no sign of him. I walked back to the car and Hubby stayed in the vicinity where we’d last seen him. After half an hour, I walked back into the woods (we didn’t have mobile phones then) and saw Hubby with the dog on a lead. Apparently it wasn’t clear who was more pleased to see who when they met up, and it was the last time the dog ran off anywhere on his own.
Our friend had an encounter with a deer on the way back to base after his shift late one night. He and his mate loaded the dead animal into their ambulance and they shared the carcass. Every time we visited for months thereafter, venison in various guises was on the menu (very nice in red wine by the way) .
Roe deerAdult Size. 10 to 25kg, 60 to 75cm at shoulder, bucks being slightly larger than does (data source British Deer Society)
Red deerAdult size. Stags 90-190kg, 107-137cm at shoulder. Hinds 63-120kg, up to 107-122cm at shoulder (data source British Deer Society) .
There is an estate about 10 miles from here that farms fallow deer. Driving by, you can see hundreds of these beautiful animals as they graze in the fields. On the day I had my Mum with me, sadly I couldn’t stop, but she had a good view which made her day. Years ago, an elderly aunt gave me an ornamental set of a doe with 2 young, and they are just like “Bambi”. I still have them.
I had a happy childhood, but some things were never explained because the need never arose. Hubby finds what follows totally charming, though I was embarrassed by my ignorance.
I’m talking about reindeer. You may find it hard to believe, but up until about 12 years ago, I didn’t realise they were real, and believed they were all part of the Christmas Magic I’d experienced as a child.
Until I saw a TV documentary about them, I also hadn’t known that reindeer and caribou were one and the same.
So some four years ago, a part of Magic came into my life when they had 3 reindeer in a stall at the Christmas market in town. Not only could I see them, but I could touch and feed them, and I was mesmerized. I understood now why deer held such fascination for my Mum.