Feral Deer Control Kit for Victoria

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Description and Identification of Deer Habitat

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Where do you find deer?

Deer tend to find harbour in the forested areas during the day and move to paddocks to graze overnight potentially in large numbers (Claridge 2016).

Camera trapping in the Buckland Valley in north-eastern Victoria has recorded between 60 to 130 deer regularly accessing a single property from an adjoining national park (Claridge 2016).

Deer prefer moister areas along drainage lines with the following attributes (Claridge 2016):

  • Gullies that provide water and food plants;
  • Sunny open areas, particularly in winter;
  • Forest edges next to farmland which provides greater access to a wider variety and amount of food than bushland alone;
  • Dense forest cover for shelter from wind and extreme hot or cold temperatures;
  • Dense thickets of Blackberries in gullies and along the interface between bushland and farmland; and
  • Non bushland areas that provide grass or other non-forest food sources.

Sambar Deer

Sambar Deer are the most common deer species occupying vast forested areas across Eastern Victoria. They prefer closed woodlands, forests and farmland with high tree cover including a dense understory for shelter. They particularly like dense thickets of Burgan, Blackberries or similar shrubs/small trees which provide dense foliage to ground level to bed down and shelter in by day. They are semi-nocturnal preferring to remain hidden during the day. They need a nearby water source such as streams, lakes or artificial water sources such as dams, and water troughs.

They favour high quality pasture close to their areas of shelter e.g. farmland on the edge of large adjoining areas of dense forests, tall shrublands.

Prime habitat would be densely forested hilly areas with secluded gullies to safely raise young nearby farmland that provides a ready source of grazing areas and water source such as a dam, creek or river.

They also target areas recovering from fire which provide fresh growth to eat and dense regrowth vegetation for cover. This provides ideal conditions for increased breeding and range expansion.

Red Deer

Red Deer prefer grassland, open woodlands and rainforest in steep or flat country. The need a nearby water source such as streams, lakes or artificial water sources such as dams, and water troughs.

Red Deer favour high quality pasture close to their areas of shelter e.g. farmland on the edge of open forests, woodlands shrublands, grasslands and timber plantations.

Fallow Deer

Fallow Deer, prefer open forests, woodlands and grasslands, cleared farmland or farmland with scattered trees in flat or steep country.

They need a nearby water source such as streams, lakes or artificial water sources such as dams, and water troughs.

Hog Deer

Hog deer can inhabit a wide range of habitats, although currently they only occur in Gippsland coastal areas. This can include closed forests, open or closed woodlands, riverine forests, river flats and coastal heath/woodlands.

Habitat identification

Look and listen for the following evidence of deer:

Red Deer, Sambar Deer, Fallow Deer and Hog Deer


Fresh well used game trails, browse lines on the bottom branches of tall shrubs and trees, mud wallows, hedging (where the tops of shrubs are over-browsed), areas cleared by rutting activities and rub trees, deer pellets, prints and pugging. Sambar deer have distinctive honking/ barking calls when alarmed, Red deer a distinctive ‘roaring’ call and Fallow deer have a distinctive loud “ grunt or burp” during rutting.


Look for game trails, deer pellets, deer prints, wallows and pugging across farmland and around dams, waterways and water troughs. Look for signs of grazing or browsing of crops, garden plants, pasture, paddock trees and other planted trees. Check fences for damage and evidence of deer passing under, over or through. Look for deer scats, prints and pugging around dams, water troughs and along waterways.

Further details on deer habitat are available from the websites listed in the Information resources section.

Where to find the deer on your property

Sambar Deer

Search dense thickets of vegetation along waterways, particularly gully heads adjacent to or on farmland with good pasture during the day. Gully heads provide a source of water, a vantage point for stags to watch for other males and dense vegetation for shelter and concealment. Also check cleared farmland at dusk and dawn.

Red Deer and Fallow Deer

Search open areas of vegetation along water sources by day and cleared farmland by day and at dusk and dawn.

Hog Deer

Hog Deer are mainly limited to coastal areas of Gippsland including public land and private reserves such as Blond Bay State Game Reserve, the Boole Poole Peninsula and Snake Island. These areas are prime Hog Deer habitats along with Wilsons Promontory and Lakes National Parks, Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park and Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Reserve. Hog Deer are known to wander onto private properties adjacent to these parks and reserves. While they may be seen in the open, they are rarely found in wide open areas as they prefer to remain close to shelter.