The New Forest Deer
Although the New Forest pony is probably the most iconic animal in the New Forest. The less visible deer of the New Forest have been just as important in the history of the forest. Deer are never commoners livestock, like the ponies and cattle but are wildlife.
Today there are six species of deer in the New Forest:
- Red deer
- Roe deer
- Silka deer
- Fallow deer
- Chinese water deer
- Muntjac deer
A Royal hunting ground
The New Forest was designated a Royal forest by William I. A place for William to hunt, and venison has always been a favourite of royalty and commoner alike. Ironically Richard, Duke of Bernay, brother to King William II, was gored to death by a stag in the New Forest. William II was also killed while hunting deer in the New Forest. He was shot by an arrow on 2 August 1100. His death is still shrouded in mystery but legend says that Walter Tyrell shot the king. The Rufus Stone allegedly marks the spot where he was killed.
Deer Picture Gallery
Where to see deer in the New Forest
There is a viewing area in Bolderwood where you can watch deer. Generally in the New Forest, early mornings or at dusk are normally the better times to see deer. They are a lot more elusive than the ponies. You could also take the New Forest Deer Safari in Burley or visit The New Forest Wildlife Park which has several deer.
Did you know?
The phrase “caught red-handed” comes from someone caught with blood on their hands from poaching deer.
I did but tie one fellow, who was taken redhanded and in the fact, to the horns of a wild stag.
~ Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, 1819
Drive slowly in the Forest
Typically between 60-80 deer are killed every year in the New Forest. They can move very fast and be difficult to spot, especially at night.
For sick or injured deer, call the Forestry Commission Tel: 02380 283141