Jason Griffin is our Deer Manager and in this month’s Sussex Life you can read about his work on the Estate.
Duncan Hall’s Rural Life column refers to the first mention of deer at Cowdray more than 800 years ago. And such was their importance that the grand hall of the original Cowdray House (partially destroyed by fire in 1793), was named The Buck Hall and was decorated with 11 life-size wooden animals along the walls. The current Cowdray House maintains this tradition with it’s magnificent vaulted dining room also called Buck Hall.
Jason keeps up this history. He is one of the country’s few full-time deer managers. In summer he is out at first light at 3.30am. Alot of his job is about being out on the ground stalking for the first three hours of light in the morning on the Downs and in the forest.
His main objective is to manage the deer population to reduce damage to the forests and farms on the Estate. Last year our Woods team planted 65,000 trees and all of those trees are at risk for the first five to eight years from being eaten or territorial marking where deer rub their antlers on the bark of a tree. We have to control the population so the forester, farmer and other tenants who invest money in the land are not getting damage to unacceptable levels.
The annual cull is 300 deer a year, last year producing 18,000lb of venison which is sold in our Farm Shop as joints as well as homemade sausages. Locally sourced, sustainably managed and low in fat it is a meat which is growing in popularity.
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