Team culling


The effectiveness of a cull operation may be increased by several rifles and support staff working as a team. The purpose of this guide is to describe factors to be considered when planning and implementing a team culling operation, whilst ensuring that safety and deer welfare standards are maintained. For this guide a team is taken to be more than two stalkers operating in either forest or open range environments.


  • Improves efficiency.
  • Particularly useful to assist with large culls.


  • Requires ability to recover and larder large numbers of carcasses.
  • Deer behaviour and movement may change in response to repeated collaborative culling operations.
  • Carcasses may be spread over a wider area.

Most Efficient Where

  • Weather and terrain combine to slow deer movement and increase the ability to predict how the deer will move.
  • Rifles can move into position before the deer are aware of their presence.
  • Rifles are positioned in areas which deer will move into.


Pre-operation planning should take into account the fact that the culling, extraction and processing of large numbers of carcasses is likely to be time consuming and labour intensive.

  • Carry out a risk assessment *.
  • Ensure compliance with relevant HSE Guidance** e.g. working time & manual handling regulations1.
  • Ensure that specialist training has been provided in advance.
  • Ensure that all communications equipment has been checked and is fit for purpose.
  • Ensure that all team members have been equipped with the necessary protective clothing and equipment.
  • Determine/Identify:
    • The number of deer using the area where the cull is required, seasonal or weather variations, and how deer are likely to behave when disturbed or moved from the area.
    • Suitable culling areas.
    • The most effective method of extraction, taking into consideration number of carcasses expected, distance and terrain .
    • Procedures to deal with the number of carcasses expected***.
    • Whether helicopter support would be effective****.
  • Consult with neighbours prior to carrying out a substantial cull.


Communication is an essential component of any deer management activity involving a team and is particularly important in a culling operation.

  • Ensure all team members are equipped with radios operating on a dedicated channel. Hands free radios make communication more efficient.
  • Agree protocols for radio procedures before the start of any operation. Send, receive and acknowledge are essential steps. In addition team members should be clear on:
    • Definition of terms to be used;
    • Commencing and ending the operation;
    • Moving position;
    • Methods of relaying;
    • Emergency procedures;
    • Channel allocation.

Team requirements

  • Establish clear command and control structures, identify who will be responsible for the overall operation, who will co-ordinate operations, and who the rifle-team leaders are.
  • Ensure all team members are briefed on their role and the operational plan.
  • Ensure all team-members understand and are able to follow procedures***** for:
    • Radio communications (see Communications above).
    • Moving during the operation.
    • Dealing with wounded deer.
    • Carcass traceability.
    • Monitoring welfare.
    • Carcass extraction.
    • Contingencies including dealing with emergencies and severe weather.
    • Arrival in area of third parties not involved in the operation.
  • Ensure that the individual with overall responsibility for the operation is satisfied that all those participating are capable of fulfilling their role.
  • Ensure that there is communication between all team members.
  • As an aid to safety, high visibility jackets should be worn by stalkers to help identify stalkers positions, particularly when the team-size exceeds 4 people. The size of teams will be dictated by the nature of the ground but the effectiveness of the team is likely to decrease if the team-size exceeds 12 rifles.
  • It is helpful if team members have knowledge of the ground and local deer movements.



Moving deer to culling area.

Under authorisation from SNH, deer may be legally moved using a vehicle, to areas where they may be culled more efficiently or safely‡.

  • If using a vehicle to move deer, ensure that SNHG Driving Deer With Vehicles: Code of Practice is followed.

Culling Operation

  • Rifles move into position and only commence firing on instruction from the team leader.
  • Stalkers targeting a specific group of deer must be aware of the location of all the members of the team targeting that group and be aware of arcs of fire.
  • Any wounded animals are dealt with as a priority.
  • All culling must stop at the instruction of the stalker in charge; all must acknowledge this instruction.
  • Rifles to alert others when they cease firing.