It has been said that over 6,000 of these stately creatures inhabit the woods, hillsides and open spaces on Mull, equating to over two deer per head of the island’s human population (2,700).
Red Deer have roamed theMull landscape for thousands of years and remain an integral part of everyday life for residents and visitors alike. At the end of the last Ice Age (for convenience, ca. 10,000 years ago) and with the arrival of early human ‘communities’ to the West Highlands and Islands, Red Deer would have proven invaluable as a major source of food, skin and bone for Mesolithic settlers. It is, however, unknown whether the Isle of Mull was populated prior to Neolithic times (ca. 3,000 BC).
The human use of Red Deerhas changed considerably over the millennia and has shifted from economic dependency to hunting for sport rather than necessity. The large population of deer that live on the Isle of Mull can present problems and have to be controlled, thus providing employment and a source of income for local estates and landowners.
Red Deer may be a prominent and exciting part of Mull’s wildlife, yet, for some, they can be little more than nuisance value. Local properties have to be fenced to preclude deer from feasting upon trees, shrubs and other flowering plants in gardens, much to the annoyance of homeowners!
Served up in most of the island’s restaurants and popular with tourists,venison is a meat greatly enjoyed by islanders, but by no means a staple of the local diet.