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  1. #1

    S.E Qld's deer population, lean times.

    Where have all the deer gone?
    This has been a reoccurring question among hunters in the areas I hunt for around 2-3 years now and I get asked all the time.
    Anyone that knows me, knows my passion for red deer, I just had to find out everything about them. I shot my first deer with a bow over a decade ago, a young red spiker, and have been lucky enough to score quite a few more since with both trad and modern gear and have had some of the most unreal adventures and learnt a lot in the process.
    The last few years things have changed, gradual but noticeable, I posted a story on the aus bowhunting forum "the beginning of the end of Qld's Red deer herds?" maybe a year or two ago and it's been a down hill slide since.
    I stopped seeing the large mob's of does in winter (40-60 animals) about 4 years ago and the last time I seen any sort of bachelor mob in numbers was around was 3 January's ago.
    I know things change and red deer in qld travel and move a fair bit, regularly crossing 40km stretches of farm land to move from mountain range to mountain range at certain times of the year.

    -Weird places to see deer.
    I have access to several different properties with the best being those bordering national park or state forest in several different areas with many kilometres in between. I have a very broad interest and have spent hours just recording footage from roadsides (I know it's stalker like, but I'm unarmed bar a camera), the most reliable deer numbers I see these days are on those bits of bush, sporting fields etc in and around Brisbane and Gold Coast, one place is at a mates place with a unit balcony on a high rise style building on the goldie, it over looks a horse paddock and sporting fields and the first time I went there for a late arvo brew I saw all 3-fallow, rusa and reds, wow!! totally unhuntable but still very cool to see. A quick look on google maps shows unreal wildlife corridors, there's not many places they can't get to around the built up areas and can easily head back into the hinterland, there's a spot in Brisbane city where council have been trapping deer that has to be seen, they put upside-down ice cream buckets under the feeder/timer set up to spread the falling grain and the deer are that keen that they chew the icecream bucket to nothing in a few weeks, then destroy the timer etc while trying to get the food.

    -Wild places.
    Ive just came back from a big week long trip, went to several properties spanning over a few hundred kilometres in the Brisbane and Mary valleys, my eyes are sore from glassing endless square kilometres, Ive been up at 3:30am and been getting into camp 8:30-9pm, so gave it a good go.
    First property was quiet and not much about, second is a huge block that's accessible only through state forest tracks, lost contact with this guy and haven't been there in years.
    This one opened my eyes, last time I was here deer were plentiful and was exactly as I remembered it but just untouched, the track that borders the state forest still had the 30+ wallows along the ridge line but untouched with grass and reeds growing out of them, the last rub trees were everywhere but had at least 2 years of re growth, the old scrapes were still there although untouched for years, the boundary fence had countless repairs from poachers and the owners stories of the living in a war zone and run ins with poachers had me on edge the whole time I was there, one of the last times I was here was during the rut maybe 4 years prior and someone shot at us while we were hidden, roaring.
    Nothing was seen here in three days, conditions were great with some downpours but mainly mist and drizzle, I checked every game trail for the tell tale signs of browse lines but nothing had been there for a very long time, I left this place and decided to take the "dry use only" 4wd track from Jimna up to Belthorpe then loop back around into Conondale to the next block, it had been raining for days and I needed some adventure, so I ran the risk on the greasy rutted out tracks and hell or high water I made it through and had an exciting time with dragging fallen trees off the tracks and churning up the red clay all in pouring rain. Here's where it gets interesting.

    -Good old days and now.*
    I grew up as a kid drooling over old black and white bowhunting mags. Fell in love with red deer, truly a majestic creature, I used to read the old stories and as a teenager dreamed of hunting the famous Diaper station, which isn't far from the property I was just on, obviously every Hunter in Aus knows the area for deer too.
    So back to that track from the property to belthorpe, it has been absolutely raped by poachers, I highly suggest anyone close enough with a good 4wd to drive through, take pics and share them if you have access to social media, plus it's a beautiful bit of country to take the family for a day trip.
    EVERY SINGLE SIGN for Nat park is now shot many, many times, a lot are reduced to just shards, I counted 18, yep not a typo 18 restricted Vehicle access gates smashed through by vehicles.
    These gates are located on the main track and off some secondary tracks, its a big eye opener for me it's always been a problem, but this was something else again.

    -Accumulative Pressure.*
    I seen deer twice in 7 days driving between the 3 properties, like the Brisbane thing they were located right near houses.
    *1.Poaching and Facebook hunters.
    Wouldn't think it would make a difference but time tells a different story.
    Anyone on Facebook would have seen the "ringbark and run" style pages, where ppl shoot deer from vehicles anywhere they see them and quickly run over cut of its head and drive off. This is so popular they have stickers, clothing and other merchandise. Absolutely disgusting.
    Also this whole my **** is bigger than yours mentality, that runs rampant on F.B hunting pages encourages more and more people to do stuff they normally wouldn't either, shoot bigger or just shoot more, get the pic and waste the rest.
    *2.Wild dogs.*
    Wild dogs have a big impact on deer herds in s.e qld, a lot more than most realise.
    From what I've heard wild dogs seem to disperse once the deer numbers drop like as described, calf attacks increase.
    *3.Government/council culls.*
    I used to laugh at when I heard the council used deer traps until I get saw the results. They work extremely well.
    Most councils now have contract shooters working year round, gone are the days of spotlights, these guys all have state of the art thermal imaging scopes and operate generally at night.
    Ive heard of 2 government culls in the last few years with over 900 animals taken in each.*
    Nightime thermal imaging is used to count deer by helicopter.*
    *4.Biosecurity QLD.*
    Not getting into this too far but here goes.
    First up a whole new set of hoops to jump through for local outfitters, apparently it's either pay to hunt or its a dedicated cattle property.
    Most Qlders would have seen the red and white signs on most farm gates now. These properties are encouraged to eradicate deer which allows the farmer to move up levels which gives the cattle a higher rating and thus a better price. Money talks.*
    *5.Baiting.*
    I haven't seen it myself so can't confirm, but have heard numerous reports of poison deer baiting going on around our water catchments, apparently there's studies going on to test and measure the efficiency of different methods.*
    OK so going to stop now cos it's getting too long and have left alot out already to keep it brief.*

    Also looking for expressions of interest if anyone has the interest, gear and time to help put some You tube videos together on the subject of suburban deer, there's no bows involved and absolutely nothing illegal going to happen and I have a list as long as my arm of where they are located, (anyone thinking of contacting me to hunt these places, dont) I have years of footage and would like to get more showing houses, trains, early morning joggers etc in the same shot as the deer.*
    Also have another project I could use help with but still looking into the legalities of it all at this stage.*
    The saddest thing for me is seeing the decline, in both numbers and quality, gone are the days when these areas held the best red deer in Australia, Nsw and sth Aus are fast becoming the go to areas for big stags, quality heads are few and far between as are the deer now.
    Pay to hunt properties still hold numbers but are being hit by new legalities and poachers, besides most haven't been managed well regarding genetics either.
    It's pretty sad when 3 blokes pay big bucks to hunt stags in my backyard and go home with weak, underdeveloped heads but weak heads have been the norm for the last few years.
    Talking recently with Clarke McGhee and he said that he had problems in the past with poachers travelling as far away as Tasmania to poach his land, year in year out.
    Cheers for reading, this should concern anyone that likes recreational hunting, regardless of whether it's trad, compound or rifle.
    It's not all doom and gloom as there will always be pockets of deer around that will fluctuate, a smart bowhunter will find property access where the deer are and alter his hunting methods to suit the circumstances, it's a hard road.
    This has been something thats been on my mind for a few years but I was hoping I was wrong but time and accumulative pressure has sealed the deal for Qld's Red deer herds.
    Regards Rhino
    Last edited by Rhino1; 22nd December 2018 at 02:06 PM.
  2. dean-yowie's Avatar
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    #2
    yeah mate will all the fingers pointing at deer being a pest/problem its not looking good. The government doesn't want them here and are finding cunning ways to have them eradicated with out doing too much work, eg the bio security program. and with the recent push to allow hunting in state forests will further the eradication with hunters doing the work if it were to get off the ground.

    I honestly think state forest hunting in QLD will be a bad thing for our herds if not managed correctly with a season, bag limits and inforcment .
  3. #3

    S.E Qld's deer population, lean times.

    Great Post Rhino, very well said. It is sad to see and not just in your area but down here as well. Deer are just not highly regarded by most people, simply because there is no dollar value sadly.
    It is also understandable that farmers want them gone or at least numbers drastically reduced. The drought has made this worse.
    I hope it is a cycle and in a few years numbers increase again.

    Sent from my TRT-LX2 using Tapatalk
    The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.
    Proverbs 12:27
  4. #4
    There has been a few heli culls in the upper Hunter valley recently pushing the deer out of some of the horse studs up in to the gullies and the shooting them all twice, over a few weekends they estimated around 8000 shot...
  5. Brooster's Avatar
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    Jun 2011
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    #5

    S.E Qld's deer population, lean times.

    Thanks Rhino a good post and not that many of them on here these days. I'm surprised my reply even worked I've had to resort to tapatalk to post anything and even then I have a 1 in 3 success rate.

    It's certainly an interesting tension between SEQ Water, Parks and hunting interest groups that have no real lobbying power it would seem up here. Your description of those tracks in Jimna almost sounds like authorities turning a blind eye to poaching to drop deer numbers. I've heard stories of years ago Rangers and the local coppers hitting those tracks and others closer to Maleny and stopping vehicles to catch poachers. They used to have little sting ops up near Imbil as well and often interstate poachers would be caught.

    Makes me think more and more that I need to buy my own hunting property one day or find some like minded people to pool resources and buy something together.

    Thanks for posting.
    Cheers Bruce

    Sent from my SM-G960F using Tapatalk
  6. #6

    S.E Qld's deer population, lean times.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brooster View Post

    Makes me think more and more that I need to buy my own hunting property one day or find some like minded people to pool resources and buy something together.

    Thanks for posting.
    Cheers Bruce

    Sent from my SM-G960F using Tapatalk
    I hear you Bruce. That is becoming more and more common these days because of the status of hunting and the conflict between hunters, farmers, politicians and conservation groups.
    Its a complicated issue for us, no easy answer.

    Sent from my TRT-LX2 using Tapatalk
    The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.
    Proverbs 12:27
  7. #7
    Just to enforce that the deer are flourishing where ever ****'s can't shoot them off the roadsides, this arvo I spotted this 67 bruiser with dirty thick beams just off the M1 in one of the busiest suburbs on the Gold coast, note the houses in the background is full blown suburbia and there's a servo just to the left and a school on the right,yeah I know the pics are crap but just seeing this fella makes my day.
    20190109_174632.jpg
    20190109_174640.jpg
    Last edited by Rhino1; 26th January 2019 at 05:04 PM.
  8. #8

    S.E Qld's deer population, lean times.

    Wow that is cool Rhino.

    Sent from my TRT-LX2 using Tapatalk
    The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.
    Proverbs 12:27
  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Beleg View Post
    Wow that is cool Rhino.

    Sent from my TRT-LX2 using Tapatalk
    Haha yeah it's awesome mate, crossed 3 lanes of traffic and stopped on the motorway to get the pics, funny thing is the whole motorway slowed right down to see what I'm doing and then some sort of 4 car pile up was going on, I was out of there like a boss. At least I had a clear run for a k or 2
  10. #10

    S.E Qld's deer population, lean times.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhino1 View Post
    Haha yeah it's awesome mate, crossed 3 lanes of traffic and stopped on the motorway to get the pics, funny thing is the whole motorway slowed right down to see what I'm doing and then some sort of 4 car pile up was going on, I was out of there like a boss. At least I had a clear run for a k or 2
    Lol, cracked me up.

    By the way, is there a viable population there, or is that stag just a loner?

    Sent from my TRT-LX2 using Tapatalk
    The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.
    Proverbs 12:27
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