Snow bother for stalking?
Q Snow is in the forecast this week. Will it affect my stalking?
DOM HOLTAM replies: Yes, almost certainly. Hard weather always impacts animal behaviour. They will want shelter and warmth – although deer often deal better with snow than they do with prolonged rain and wind.
The deer will have been gorging on beech mast and acorns this autumn, but they won’t be accessible under a thick blanket of snow. Low-level browsing might also be impacted so think about where they will be looking to find food. Snow might concentrate their attention on feeders (either for deer or for game birds).
The deer will certainly be more visible in the snow, both in the woods and in the open, as the white background renders their natural camouflage useless. However, the same will be the case for the stalker unless you have a snow camo jacket. Or a white sheet. Or even, as my old mate used once, a white decorator’s oversuit. It made him look a bit odd but it put deer on the deck!
Up in Scotland, the ‘white shepherd’ brings the animals down in altitude, which certainly makes them easier to get to. However, you don’t want to be forcing upland reds around in hard weather, expending energy reserves at a time when food is incredibly scarce. For that reason, a lot of estates like to finish their cull early and leave the deer in peace once winter really bites.