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    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.*
    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.

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