The Cotswolds Deer Management Group was set up in January 2012 by a small group of farmers, landowners and deer-stalkers with the objective of responsible management of deer using ‘Best Practise’, and cross-boundary cooperation between stalkers and landowners. The ethos is of friendly cooperation and mutual support, and the elimination of secrecy and closed doors, which is still quite rife in the deer stalking world. The group controls deer across the whole of the Cotswolds, across much of Gloucestershire. Many of the group have holdings out side of the area too in Herefordshire and Warwickshire.
The Group currently has no formal or legal structure and membership is free of charge. Some 20+ stalkers are on the mailing list, all with varying levels of experience and qualifications, ranging from total novices to DSC 2 Approved Witnesses. The majority are amateur stalkers but a few professional deer managers and game-keepers are also affiliated to the Group.
The Group is trying to collect data such as acreages of land managed, and the numbers of deer culled, broken down by species and sex. For example, in the year to the 30th. April 2015, 6 Members of the group managed 10,000 Acres between them, and culled some 363 deer. Extrapolating those figures over 60 stalking Members would be statistically unsound so we leave it to the reader to speculate! It is hoped that after a few years collated statistics will become meaningful.
The Group has the tacit support from the Cotswolds Conservation Board AONB, Glos. Police Wildlife & Rural Crime Unit, The Deer Initiative, the conservation charity Plantlife, and other conservation organisations, who all understand the need for conservation, i.e sustainable utilisation of deer on the land.
Due to the wide variety of members with different levels of experience, qualifications,agreements with landowners and personal objectives, the Group does not have any enforceable rules or interferes with relations between individual stalkers and landowners. However wider support and help, in particular when managing challenging roaming herds of Fallow deer, is available for those who require it. A contacts-database is accessible to members so individuals can liaise with neighbouring stalkers or call on members with specific skills and equipment, such as a deer-dog; night-vision equipment for surveys or access to larder-ing and butchering facilities.
Several events are organised each year for members, for example: Specialist marksmanship training; running wild boar/driven deer simulations; visits to estates, or training offered to the Group by third parties. An annual meeting usually involves some guest speakers and a demo by a company, for example one selling and show-casing top-of-the-line optical equipment.
The Group offers a hub for stalkers to widen their network, sharpen their skills, and get invited to stalk on otherwise inaccessible estates. If you are interested please contact us by email on firstname.lastname@example.org