This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
In the Highlands of Scotland large areas of land, called deer-forests, are devoted to this ruminant, the main object in view being pastime, known as deer-stalking, for the wealthy, who may be the proprietors, or, as more generally is the case, rich commercial magnates, alien millionaires and princely personages. Thus the landlord's chief interest is income - rent for game-shooting privilege and profit from timber production. These pursuits are probably the best that can be followed on much of the vast tracts of land in the Highlands from the owners' point of view - that is, more rent can be obtained for the land as deer-forest in conjunction with timber produce than were it devoted to arboricultural, agricultural, and horticultural crops in accordance with its adaptation in respect of soil and environment. But it is very questionable if such reservation of land for sporting purposes conduces to the welfare of the nation in as full measure as were the land afforested, farmed and gardened. Forest, farm and garden produce needed by the inhabitants of the British Islands is largely imported, and it is a matter of vital interest whether timber, cereals and forage crops could not be grown in place of scrub and pasture (of a sort), supporting only a few semi-wild animals, not contributing anything approaching in utility to the nation as cultivated land crops, giving more home produce, less reliance on importations, much more employment, increased wealth, and, better than all, multiplied sturdy Anglo-Saxons.
Red-deer are great strayers, invading meadows and arable fields, also orchards, at night-time, and inflict great damage on crops: and as these belong to tenant-farmers, alleviation from such incursions is imperative, in order that they may reap the advantage of their efforts in full productive capacity of the soil in place of having to suffer a diminution of each year's harvest through the game preserve. The damage inflicted by red-deer on forest and other crops having been already referred to, it is only necessary in this place to treat of preventatives for restricting their ravages.
Red-deer, and all deer, must be kept within the forest, park, or other portion of land set apart for their conservation. Formerly this was, and still is, effected by walls and oak palings, in the case of old establishments: perhaps quite as much to insure privacy as to restrict the deer. But in recent years wire has supplanted stone and brick walls, oak and other timber barricades, for even where these still exist deer are confined to less extensive areas, giving place to cattle and sheep, and as many (at one time exclusive to the public) enclosures are open at certain times through the condescension of the owners, every well-conducted person is given opportunity of beholding deer without climbing park-walls and opaque fencing, and encountering man-traps and spring-guns, inasmuch as the deer are kept in a compound by iron fencing. This, Fig. 123, unclimbable wrought-iron hurdle or continuous bar-fencing, 6 ft high, 8 bars, proves effective against all large game. Strained wire fencing of 6 ft. height also answers for retaining or excluding deer, and barbed wire makes a fence if not less than 4½ ft. high, that not only protects farms, nurseries and gardens against deer, but practically precludes deer- and fox-hunting, and even pedestrian prowlers.
Fig. 123. - Boulton & Paul's Continuous fencing for Deer.