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Prevalence of ‘head shooting’ and the characteristics of the wounds in culled wild Scottish red deer
  1. K. A. Urquhart, BVMS, MRCVS1 and
  2. I. J. McKendrick, BSc, PhD2
  1. 1 Thistle Veterinary Health Centre, 1 Alcorn Rigg, Edinburgh EH14 3BF
  2. 2 Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland, JCMB, King's Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3JZ


The carcases of 230 wild, culled red deer (Cervus elaphus) were examined for the presence of bullet wounds and permanent wound tracts to determine the prevalence and significance of wounds involving the head, legs or carcase trunk. Head wounds were found in 17 (7·4 per cent) of the carcases and were classified into two groups: nine in which the marksman was considered to have specifically targeted the head, and eight carcases in which the head wound was considered to have resulted from a ‘coup de grace’ shot to dispatch a previously wounded animal. The analysis of the wound data from the carcase trunks, in combination with data collected in a previous study, indicates that the initial wound tracts in all the deer appeared to have lower mean terminal probabilities than subsequent wound tracts, and that this effect is exacerbated during the rut.

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