Deer run wild across many parts of the UK, but they are sometimes quite elusive. One way of locating them is by looking for their droppings or "poo." Most naturalists and gamekeepers have their own theories about deer droppings, but investigating the faeces may give the tracker an idea of the size, movement and sometimes the sex of the deer population.
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Look for small, bullet-shaped pellets in piles or clumps. They are usually in piles of about 30 pellets, which are flat on one end and pointed on the other. The piles or clumps measure about 12.5 cm (5 inches) in diameter, depending on the size of the deer. They're very similar to the droppings of the rabbit, except that the rabbit leaves smaller piles, and it's never in clumps as deer faeces sometimes are.
Determine how long the droppings have been in the area. Fresh faeces are moist and shiny, and indicate that deer have been in the area within the last 12 hours. If the deer dropped it within the last 15 minutes, it'll still be warm. When it's fresh, the colour is a dark brown, but as it ages, it lightens in colour.
Study the consistency of the faeces. Hard pellets indicate a diet of twigs, dry leaves and grass or grain. Soft clumps are evident when green grass and leaves or farming crops are available to the deer.
Measure the size of the piles and the size of the pellets. Pellets that are less than 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) are usually from a doe or fawn. A buck may leave a larger clump, with pellets that are 2 cm (3/4 inch) or larger and cylindrically shaped. Larger piles or clumps usually mean larger deer.
Tips and warnings
- You may find the larger clumps of stag droppings in areas where they bed down, on rub routes or around scrape areas.
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