AN article in the paper suggesting that National Trust properties could soon be set to stock more deer to meet a soaring demand for venison, attracted my interest.
We regularly visit friends in Shropshire who, although not on a National Trust property, do have a deer park on their farm.
The park dates back to medieval times and its revival by Joy and Kevan to stock with fallow deer, is proving commercially successful in producing venison from the cull deer.
There have been ups and downs with escapees. The area where they live is very scenic, and although there are no rights of way through their farm, attractive to walkers.
Not all have secured gates behind them. And deer have escaped. Over the last few years, fences, gates and security have increased, and trespassing is proving less of a problem on the farm and escapes have become rarer. The hunt proving the last transgressors.
Our friends are now planning to open up the farm as a luxury camping venue, complete with honesty shop, a shower and toilet block, rent a chicken and stroke a sheep experience, plus home cooked meals and ready made beds in the tents. All at extra cost of course.
They hope the deer park will be an added attraction as well as the lakes in front of their farm house which they keep stocked with trout.
Separating the lakes from the house is a ha-ha, into which the lakes flow.
As the lakes are situated in a field, Joy and Kevan thought it would be scenic and picturesque to have some deer in there.
Whilst the perimeter of the field had the usual mile high deer fence (I exaggerate but it’s high), they assumed the ha-ha would prevent escape by the route directly in front of their house.
As they also presumed that their existing deer might not settle in the new field, three fallow does and a buck were purchased and released into what they hoped was an escape proof home.
This was all in November. Plenty of time for the deer to settle in over winter and be ready to pose in model fashion when the trendy campers arrived.
But then, we can all remember what happened at the end of November, beginning of December can’t we?
The weather grew colder and colder. So Joy and Kevan upped the deer’s hay and slept peacefully.
It grew even colder and the lakes started to freeze. Still Joy and Kevan made sure the new deer had plenty to eat and no complaints. Then one night in mid December it really really froze. Ha-ha as well as the lake.
‘Oh look’ the deer must have thought, ‘We can walk out of here if we want.’ And they did.
Now our friends get regular sightings of the escapees but nothing more than a glimpse.
But perhaps when the campers are there in the summer and sit out in the evenings admiring the deer over the fence, they might see four of them rather closer to home.