Practical Deer Management by Charles Smith-Jones - review



Deer manager Owen Beardsmore of Cervus UK gives us his take on this fabulous book, Practical Deer Management by Charles Smith-Jones

a roe deer in a field of heather

a roe deer in a field of heather - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I was very happy to receive a copy of this book by Charles Smith-Jones to review as his previous book, Muntjac - Managing an Alien Species, has become an authority on the species and I have given many copies away to visiting clients who have shown an interest in muntjac. It wasn't until I looked at a copy recently that I realised it was written over 15 years ago and, although he has written a few more since, this new title is his piece de resistance! I would imagine it has taken many years to compile.

With deer numbers on the increase and more people turning their hand to the challenge of deer stalking, this up-to-date guide and reference book on practical deer management is a welcome addition to the bookshelf of anyone who is managing wild deer. Smith-Jones has written it in an easily readable format that covers every aspect that may be required from the novice in the process of taking a DSC qualification, right up to the old school pro who may need to update his skill set with regards to modern day-risk assessments and the production of a modern cull plan.

The book sets out its chapters by starting with 'Why Manage Deer', followed by a species-by-species description of their natural history and an up-to-date distribution map. It goes on to tell of the author's approach to the subject based on nearly 40 years of lowland deer management experience. Each chapter is illustrated with informative pictures and no stone is left unturned with regards to census, cull planning, management and effective implementation. There are four separate case studies about the effects of overpopulation, which make an interesting read. Charles's detail is impressive.

Other chapters follow: equipment, infrastructure and health/disease are all fully covered and documented in simple layman's terms, and some of the author's recommendations have even left me inspired to make some changes in practice… every day is a school day eh?!

The book finishes on a very thorough and current chapter on 'The Law and Deer', which anyone who has the responsibility of deer management should read and be reasonably well versed in.

His accurate knowledge of his subject shines throughout the book, and it has been a pleasure to read over the past month. I would suggest that anyone with the slightest interest in current deer management adds it to their collection - gems of knowledge like this cannot always be found via a Google search! I can promise you that you will not be disappointed, and my copy will sit comfortably next to other classic deer books by Richard Prior, Norma Chapman, G.K. Whitehead, Dominic Griffith and the like.

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Printed in Hardback by Quiller Publishing

RRP: £25