The Roe Deer (capreolus capreolus) is the UK’s smallest native deer species. They colonised the UK before its post-glacial separation from continental Europe. Roe can be found in many parts of Scotland but are thought to have died out in Southern England during the middle ages, although the Northern Counties still retained Roe Deer. They were reintroduced to various release sites in southern England during the 18th & 19th Centuries from a number of sources. From these releases the populations have expanded to re-colonise most of their former range in the south and east of England. They were also re-introduced to Ireland and flourished for a time before subsequently dying out.
Roe Deer have long legs and consequently look larger than they really are. Both sexes are very similar in weight and size, the average height at the shoulder being 58cm/23”. Mature live weights vary considerably with habitat, ranging from 32kg/70lb down to 13kg/28lb. The weight of the Deer shot on our grounds is always above 30lb. They have short, blunt faces, large, mobile ears often with a black rim, a black muzzle with two white spots on their upper lip and a white chin. They shed their winter coat during April – June leaving a bright, foxy red summer coat with a pale buff belly. Buck rump patches are kidney shaped while those of does are broader and shaped like the ace of spades, when alarmed both sexes will fluff out their rump patch. Roe’s have no tail but does have a tush of hair emanating just the below the rump patch.
Both sexes “bark” when alarmed, this is often the sound to determine a failed stalk as your quarry bounds off into the distance. Roe bucks usually shed their antlers during November-December, with the older bucks casting first. Unlike other UK deer species, Roe grow their antlers during the winter so antler size and weight can be depressed by poor weather conditions or a shortage of food. A typical mature buck has 3 points on each antler which may reach up to 25cm. However antlers vary widely and multi – point heads or other strange conformations cause great interest amongst enthusiasts.