Welcome to Best Practice Guidance on the Management of Wild Deer in Scotland. The guides are developed within Scotland’s deer sector to provide you with the best information available on wild deer management.

Following Best Practice


Best Practice aims to provide guidance on relevant legislation and on how best to reinforce the three central aims of public safety, food safety and deer welfare. The guides seek to support, reassure and educate by setting out where possible general principles rather than tight prescription. In this way the Steering Group recognises that there is often more than one way of doing something and welcomes discussion of alternative approaches that add value to the way that the deer sector can enhance public safety, food safety and deer welfare.

At the heart of the guides is the need for clarity on the law; along with three central aims: safeguarding public safety; ensuring food safety; and taking full account of deer welfare. Public confidence in these three issues is essential if wild deer management in Scotland is to maintain the understanding and respect of a wider audience at home and abroad

In the development of the concept the Steering Group recognised that there will always be situations, when for whatever reasons, things do not go according to plan. Following Best Practice is about understanding what the benchmark is for an activity, aiming to deliver at least to that level and aspiring to go further.

New Guidance released (Nov 23)

New Guidance released (Nov 23)

In response to the November 2023 changes in Secondary Legislation the partners of Wild Deer Best Practice have written and published new guidance on the use of thermal imaging, night vision and digital sights and their use (under authorisation) as well as updating existing best practice guidance relating to minimum bullet weights.

NatureScot has also published an updated Statutory Guide, The Night Shooting Code of Practice.

To view the new guidance please follow these links:

New Guidance – Use of Night Vision and Thermal Imaging

Updated Guidance – Rifles & Ammunition (1)

Updated Statutory Guidance – Night Shooting Code of Practice

Steering Group

The Wild Deer Best Practice guides are produced in partnership by a Steering Group, comprised of ADMG, BASC, BDS, Environment Link, FLS, LANTRA, LDNS, NatureScot, Private Forestry, Scottish Countryside Alliance, Scottish Forestry, SGA, SLE and the land-based Colleges (Borders College, SRUC and UHI).

Practitioners are encouraged to debate and share ideas to help develop future editions. Revisions and updates will also be made in light of new research, changes to policy and new legislation.

There are a parallel set of guides for England and Wales and for Ireland.