A prominent hunter and wild deer photographer Clyde Graf of Hamilton, has dismissed concerns voiced that a ban on hunting due to the coronavirus “lockdown” will lead to exploding deer numbers.
“The deer populations can’t explode in a single year, and never have. It takes many years for the deer population to build (from a low population) – taking into account natural mortality, hunting pressure, and most of all, 1080 poisoning operations,” he said.
But a deer population would have to be high already, for there to be a big increase.
“Hinds have one fawn per year, like possums have one joey a year. If the deer population was to explode in any particular year, it would already have to be very high the year before.”
As was currently the case in many areas, deer numbers on public land were extremely low, and in many parts, almost non-existent said Clyde Graf.
He rejected suggestions by a Game Council member that stags were “stupid” during the “roar”.
“Without question the autumn roar is the most exciting time of the year for hunters to encounter stags and especially without a rifle and only with a camera. Being vocal is their downfall as they can be located more easily, but they still have their senses about them.”
One glimpse of the wrong movement or the slightest of human smell, and a stag was gone for miles particularly with red deer and would not be back in that area particularly bush country, until after rain.
If they were not shot in the first encounter with a human during the roar, they were often very cagey, and could be difficult to get during the rest of the season in the case of bush hunting.
“They will often still roar though. Stags don’t roar to attract females as has been stated. . That has nothing to do with why they roar. They roam and use their sense of smell to find hinds. They roar more when a hind is cycling and when they want to boast, or challenge another stag, or, as we all know, when responding to another stag.”
When the hinds start cycling, the stags will roar more, but can even roar without the presence of hinds.
“It’s a seasonal thing driven by hormones and the necks of the stags become thicker and swollen in preparation for the fighting season. Once again, it’s a hormonal thing.”
Over the period of the roar a stag can loose over 20 percent of his body weight, as he eat less often, and often wanders across long distances to locate hinds and then spends a lot of his time on his feet, fending off intruders and defending his territory – if he has one.
“We have found that with low deer numbers, stags often don’t have any particular territory, as they might when there are high numbers about.”
They wander a lot more, in search of hinds.”
“After the roar, stags are often found on clearings and river banks and similar places, in search of grass, as grass is their favourite tucker, like the case with possums.”
After the roar the stags try to gain back their weight to get through the winter. But once again, this is instinct, and based on hunger said Clyde Graf.
© The late Lloyd Hanson (right) with a fine trophy in the roar