Snow bother for stalk­ing?

Sporting Shooter - - Ask The Experts -

Q Snow is in the fore­cast this week. Will it af­fect my stalk­ing?

A

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.

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