Roe Deer

Terminology

Male Roe deer are known as Bucks.

Females are known as Does.

Offspring are known as kids.

Origins and History.

Roe deer are indigenous to Britain, they have been present since before history and seem to have undergone little evolutionary change since records began nearly half a million years ago.

Various factors such as forest clearance and over – hunting led them to being extinct by 1800, with the exception of Scotland. Here small pockets of woodland still harboured the Roe.

Introductions were made during the Victorian times and were aided by new woodlands and forest planting in the 20th Century; these combined factors have helped to re-establish the native Roe.

Weight

The males can weigh between 10 and 26 kilos.

The females can weigh between 10 and 22kilos

Appearance

In summer the coat is reddish brown this changes in winter to a pale brown almost grey and occasionally black. Roe deer have a no visible tail but the does do have an anal tush which is often mistaken as a tail.

Roe deer stand approximately 24" at the shoulder; they have a white rump (target), black nose and white chin. Roe also have a light patch on their throat, this is known as a gorget patch. When alarmed the hair on the target (rump) becomes erect, this signifies danger. The shape of the target differs between Buck and Doe. The Buck has a wider marking whereas the Doe has two smaller kidney shaped areas separated by her anal tush.

Bucks develop antlers but have no canine teeth; the antlers are grown in a protective skin known as velvet. The new antlers are usually cleaned of their velvet in June /July but it can be slightly earlier or later depending on location. The antlers develop three tines, one forward facing one rearward and a tip.

Roe Buck trophy stalking is particularly sought after in areas where good six pointers are known to occur regularly. A six pointer is a Buck with two symmetrical three pointed antlers.

Habitat

Roe are a woodland deer and as such frequent most woods and forests. When their density is high Roe are sometimes seen to occupy open ground, this is due to their territorial nature pushing them out of their home range. Much of Britain holds populations of Roe with the exception of parts of Kent and the Midlands. Wales is slowly being colonised with Roe that are moving across the border as their territories expand.

Behaviour

Roe deer are active through out the 24-hour period; the peak time of activity is at dawn and dusk. As with the other species of deer they retreat to cover after feeding to ruminate. They are predominately browsers that actively select different food types including herbs, ivy, heather, coniferous tree shoots and brambles.

Roe deer are usually solitary creatures but may form groups / pairs in areas where there is a high density. Family groups of Buck, Doe and Kids are often seen in the winter months.

Breeding

Roe deer breed during mid – July to mid August, the gestation period is nine months (4 months of non-embryonic growth followed by 5 months of foetal growth. In May and June up to 3 young (kids) can be born per pregnancy.

Bucks will defend their territories during the rut; severe injuries and even death can result. Unlike the Bucks, Does territories do over lap quite considerably, they seem to be more tolerant of other females. Bucks are often seen chasing does when they are in oestrous (the time when a female is ready to be mated). Bucks will mate with several females and females will mate with several males.

Although the rut occurs in August the fertilized embryo does not implant and grow until late December early January, this is thought to be a safeguard against producing young in the harsh winter months. The term given for this occurrence is delayed implantation.

Vocalisation

When alarmed both sexes will give a short bark, which is often be heard repeatedly. During the rut the does make a high pitched piping call to attract a mate, in turn the Buck will make a rasping noise when courting the female.