Draft Deer Management strategy open for comment

Victoria specific bushwalking discussion.
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Victoria specific bushwalking discussion. Please avoid publishing details of access to sensitive areas with no tracks.

Re: Draft Deer Management strategy open for comment

Postby stry » Thu 18 Apr, 2019 9:20 pm

This was an allegedly domesticated pet. Domestication of any truly wild animal is always problematic.

The deer was reported as being a red deer/wapiti cross.These species typically rut in March/April. Putting oneself behind wire with an antlered stag, used to being fed by humans, during the rut is taking a foolish risk. Those with expertise in handling deer would unanimously advise against such behaviour, particularly if the animal is regarded as a pet.

Two people have paid a high price for either not knowing what they were doing. or for pushing their luck.

I don't see any cause for alarm amongst walkers.
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Re: Draft Deer Management strategy open for comment

Postby sambar358 » Fri 19 Apr, 2019 5:41 pm

peregrinator wrote:I've sometimes thought about asking our resident deer expert, sambar358, about whether these animals could be a potential threat to humans. Especially those of us who don't carry firearms.

I've camped in close proximity to a few. The first experience was genuinely frightening, as I had no idea of what was producing the very loud call, seemingly just beside my tent. On subsequent occasions, even though I now knew it was a Sambar, I've still wondered whether it might cause some intended or unintended damage, to me and/or my tent. I've rationalised this by assuming the deer may be as alarmed at my presence as I am by it's, so I've expected it to keep at a distance. But now I'd like to know more, if possible.


Wild deer tend to be very wary of human presence and with sambar their classic response to encountering something that they are unsure of is their loud alarm bark or "honk". This is usually administered at full volume and at close range and it is intended to startle the potential threat and allow the deer a few seconds to get away. For someone who has not experienced the blast of a close range honk from a sambar it can be quite an experience as the sound is something that sounds more mechanical than something from an animal.....like the air horn of a Mack truck about to run you down. I've been a deer hunter for over 45 years and encountered 1000's of sambar in the bush and never had one exhibit any level of aggression towards me......although I did get flattened by a big sambar hind on one occasion after she bolted down the pad I was standing on and ran right through me....but no harm done apart from a few bruises and she probably got a bigger fright than I did.

The recent incident involving the death of a man and the serious injuring of his wife in NE Vic was caused by an enclosed red/wapiti cross stag......a large animal likely weighing around 300kgs and apparently still with his antlers on which could-well have been long and multi-tined with all points dagger sharp. Of course in the wild a stags antlers are designed for fighting rivals during the rut and asserting superiority over other males that challenge him or seek to steal his harem of females. This time of the year is the rut (mating season) for red and fallow deer and the males in the rut are pumped-full of testosterone, off their feed and have only one thing on their mind....breeding the females. In the wild the males will be constantly on the look-out for rival males willing to challenge them and fight trying to steal their hinds.....in an enclosure the stag still exhibits this sort of behavior making him highly dangerous to any intruders....more-so if he has no hinds in with him as this stag apparently didn't. The victim was an experienced deer hunter and I'm sure he was aware of the dangers of that stag at this time of the year.....likely he just got a bit careless and didn't see the animal as a direct threat when he went in to feed him. But things would have changed in an instant and he would have had no hope of out-running it or fighting it off. It was fortunate that his wife who went to his aid was not killed outright as well.

But.....in the bush I don't think anyone has anything to fear from our wild deer which are naturally very wary of human presence and I'm sure that the vast majority of those who walk in/around the Bogong High Plains have probably never seen a sambar despite there being a strong population of them throughout the ANP. And of any sightings most of these will be of a "south end heading north" as the deer flees rapidly off into the bush. However if you do encounter one that stands its ground, maybe honks at you a few times,raises its tail and fluffs its coat up to look bigger and scarier fear not......it just hasn't worked out what you are yet. A bit of yelling, arm waving or a rock/stick thrown in it's direction should get it dashing off into the bush easy-enough. Cheers

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Re: Draft Deer Management strategy open for comment

Postby Xplora » Sat 20 Apr, 2019 6:17 am

I recall a survival survey which was posted on this forum and one of the questions related to animals which you should be most afraid of because they were dangerous. It was directed to the US but deer were the biggest killers of people. More than bears and mountain lions.
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Re: Draft Deer Management strategy open for comment

Postby sambar358 » Sat 20 Apr, 2019 8:04 am

Xplora wrote:I recall a survival survey which was posted on this forum and one of the questions related to animals which you should be most afraid of because they were dangerous. It was directed to the US but deer were the biggest killers of people. More than bears and mountain lions.


The US deer species......elk, whitetail, mule deer and moose all have a defined rut like the red and fallow deer in Australia......so 2-3 weeks of intense mating activity when all the females are in season at once and all the breeding males are very keen to get part of the action. If we could delve a bit deeper into the US statistics on this I would suspect that the timing of the US deaths due to deer where mostly during the rut and often caused by careless people getting too close to rutting males rather than these males seeking-out people to take their frustration out on. I witnessed this on several occasions in Yellowstone NP on my last US trip when the elk rut was in full swing.....tourists walking up on rutting bull elk to get a nice close picture totally oblivious of the fact that the animal could easily turn on them & kill them in an instant.

Our Australian sambar have no defined rut like the European fallow and red deer and as they are a non-herding species they tend to be encountered singly or in a small family group. Females can come into breeding condition at any time of the year and when one does if there is a breeding age sambar stag in the vicinity he will spend a few days paying her close attention and mate with her. Sambar stags do not hold groups of breeding females like the red and fallow deer do. So for sambar deer the rut is far less intense and less defined but stags in-rut do change a bit physically bulling-up in the neck, the rut and wallow more intently and they are more inclined to fight with a rival stag which might try and move-in on a hind that he is holding. Many mature sambar stags bear quite extensive body scaring from fighting with rival stags and ripped ears, damaged eyes and broken tines on their antlers are quite common. Despite this though sambar are a shy and reclusive deer and very wary of humans and human scent and fleeing from a human encounter is their primary defence response. Deer in areas that are closed to hunting (such as the Bogong High Plains and much of the area around Falls Creek) may be less wary of humans so you may get the odd one that will stand and look rather than instantly flee but for many who encounter sambar while walking the usual view is of a large animal charging off through the scrub....."the south end heading north". Cheers

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Re: Draft Deer Management strategy open for comment

Postby peregrinator » Sat 20 Apr, 2019 9:39 am

Thanks for your detailed observations, sambar. Somewhat reassuring, but maybe I should aim to camp somewhere near sticks and stones, just in case. I can yell very loudly too --tried that on the initial occasion.
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Re: Draft Deer Management strategy open for comment

Postby north-north-west » Wed 24 Apr, 2019 5:54 pm

sambar358 wrote:
Xplora wrote:I recall a survival survey which was posted on this forum and one of the questions related to animals which you should be most afraid of because they were dangerous. It was directed to the US but deer were the biggest killers of people. More than bears and mountain lions.


The US deer species......elk, whitetail, mule deer and moose all have a defined rut like the red and fallow deer in Australia......so 2-3 weeks of intense mating activity when all the females are in season at once and all the breeding males are very keen to get part of the action. If we could delve a bit deeper into the US statistics on this I would suspect that the timing of the US deaths due to deer where mostly during the rut and often caused by careless people getting too close to rutting males rather than these males seeking-out people to take their frustration out on.


Bill Bryson is not neccesarily the best or more reliable reference , but I do recall comments from his AT book about the dangers posed by rutting moose. Right up there with the hanta-virus carrying mouse *&%$#!, apparently.
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Re: Draft Deer Management strategy open for comment

Postby potato » Fri 07 Jun, 2019 2:00 pm

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Re: Draft Deer Management strategy open for comment

Postby potato » Fri 14 Jun, 2019 7:46 pm

And who says aerial culls can't be done:

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/ ... last-week/
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Re: Draft Deer Management strategy open for comment

Postby sambar358 » Sun 16 Jun, 2019 9:19 am

No recreational hunting permitted on public land in the ACT = deer problem.....who would have thought that ! Deer shot were mostly fallow (+ 4 sambar).....fallow are a herding species that prefer open forest and farmland = easier to shoot from an aerial platform. The NSW Parks chopper crews have been getting plenty of target practice this year with several 1000 fallow & red deer shot in the Upper Hunter valley of NSW in the autumn and 135 sambar taken in the Vic ANP Bogong Unit in a recent aerial cull. Still only a drop in the deer-numbers ocean though and nothing close to "control" let-alone eradication.

I also note in that Canberra Times report that they are culling 4000 'roos as well in the ACT......that might make some difference to the numbers and reduce a bit of 'roo/vehicle interaction around the ACT. I drove the Monaro Highway thru the ACT to Sydney a few months ago and the numbers of dead 'roos along the Highway between Bombala and the Hume was staggering......but only one dead fallow deer south of Nimmitabel which puts in all in a bit of perspective I think. Cheers

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Re: Draft Deer Management strategy open for comment

Postby potato » Mon 17 Jun, 2019 12:03 pm

sambar358 wrote:No recreational hunting permitted on public land in the ACT = deer problem.....who would have thought that ! Cheers

s358


I respectively have to disagree with you on that. There is recreation hunting is allowed in Vic and there too is a deer problem. There are deer problems on private land as well.
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