Challenge Preparation: Deer Fences

Back to the Challenge. Deer fences seem to be on the minds of a few first time Challengers. Just how much of a hazard are they?

Deer fences are quite common in the Highlands. Usually they are erected to stop the deer getting into woodland and there’s a touch of irony about this. Deer are naturally woodland animals and I believe many of the deer in the Highlands are much smaller than they would naturally be, on account of their poor moorland diet!

The fences do tend to crop up frequently although you can walk across the whole of Scotland without encountering one. These are wire fences and are quite high, though not impossibly high. Often there are gates in the fences although the gate may be a long way from where you are. But have a look at the map and sometimes you can see where they might be, otherwise — if visibility allows — just take a few seconds to have a good look along the line of the fence.

If you have to climb them don’t panic as the wire in these fences is usually quite strong. Climb up and over near to a fence post as there’s less sag in the fence. I’m just over six foot and find that I usually just have to climb up one foot hold over and down. I’m also quite hefty and have never had a fence collapse on me! Usually — and especially if walking alone — you have to chuck your pack over the fence first. And this means you have a big incentive to get one yourself!

If you are really likely to come across one of these things your route vetter will have probably warned you by now. But, really, there’s nothing too much to worry about. Just take your time and get your balance and you’ll be over quite quickly.

There are stories of some walkers carrying wire cutters with them to facilitate easy access, but I think that is probably going a little too far!

So, that’s deer fences. As you go East, and loose the high mountains, you are more likely to come across electric fences — please do keep an eye out for these!


  1. Humphrey says:

    I’d just like to add add to Andy’s post and point out that these fences are constructed in the best interests of deer management. A good friend of mine – now retired – was the Forestry Commission Area Manager for the entire north-western Highlands, and had a particular interest in deer control. Whilst these fences may seem adverserial to us walkers and present as an obstacle they serve a very particular purpose.

    Damaging or degrading a fence simply causes additional problems for the workers on the ground. As Andy says, look out for access points – which typically occur within 300m – or, if not possible, ensure that you climb the fence at a main stay to minimise any impact.

    The national deer herd is currently in poor shape and too numerous – a series of mild winters (excepting the last two) – has meant that a number of weaker beasts have survived. Deer in Scotland have no natural predators. This is why the well-reported culls that anger certain folk have occurred. And these animals are not Bambis – they will graze down all vegetation and prevent renewal. A good example of deer management is on the Mar Estate, west of Braemar. Shabby examples are south-west of Ben Alder, where I have come across carcases snared in fences.

  2. Thanks for sharing this article. I’m doing some research for my client DeerBusters. We are trying to put together a large resource for alternatives for “Deer Control” and I found your article useful. Cheers, Ben

  3. If deer fencing is done correctly it will help maintain an environmental balance but only with proper planning from animal control experts.

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