- THE DEER -
The Muntjac Deer
An incredibly successful invasive species which escaped from Woburn Abbey and began an unstoppable journey across most of southern England. A very adaptable little deer the smallest of the 6 species present in the UK. It causes considerable damage to native wild flowers such as oxlip and Bluebells as well as newly coppiced woodland, however it's venison is in my opinion the best of all being mild, close grained, soft and light in colour.
The Chinese Water Deer (CWD)
Another non-native species from the Woburn Abbey collection that's beginning to establish itself in East Anglia, with large numbers particularly in the Waveney Valley & the Norfolk Broads.
This deer is not as successful as the Muntjac due to habitat restrictions namely its preference for wetlands, reed beds and river valleys. The CWD is unusual in that it has no antlers but it has large tusks up to 4'' long. It also has large amounts of body fat and can give birth to multiple young of up to 5 or 6.
The meat of the CWD is similar to that of the Muntjac but is paler in colour and a little milder.
The Roe Deer
Of the 6 species of deer in the UK only the Red and the Roe Deer are indigenous. The Roe aka fairy of the woods is one of the most elusive species most active at 1st and last light often in small groups mainly in the west of Suffolk. The meat of the Roe is highly prized being very soft and close grained with a distinct mellow flavour if not hung for too long. The liver is known as the Kings liver and is rarely found for sale because of that delicacy known as the stalkers breakfast. Fresh liver and kidneys fried lightly on soda bread toast with a free range egg on top and your choice of ketchup. Better than any lambs liver. Ask for Roe venison as a real treat.
The Fallow Deer
Introduced around the Norman era, it has become well established throughout England with large concentrations in East Anglia, causing considerable damage to arable crops both by eating and by laying out on them. A very nomadic deer with large range so therefore is quite difficult to manage. Fallow venison has a more robust flavour than the 3 smaller species with a firm close grained texture which when cut from the haunches holds very well for our pies.
The Red Deer
Our largest and most recognisable deer. Males can grow to 190kg. It is also one of 2 native species to the United Kingdom, the Roe being the other. Large concentrations are found in East Anglia, particularly Thetford & Minsmere as well as Scotland. Red deer venison is dark in colour and robust in flavour. It is, in my opinion, the reason why many people are put off eating venison as they assume it is all strong and gamey. Younger females (hinds) of around 18-24 months of age would be the best eating. The flavour resembles cows liver, it is therefore not my choice for our products.
The Sika Deer
An introduced species from Japan, sitting between the fallow and red in size. The male has the unusual habit of whistling during the rut. It is not present in East Anglia, being limited to southern England and Scotland, where it is known to hybridize with red deer, causing concern about the future purity of the red deer strain. Careful management is required to maintain a healthy red deer population. Sika does not feature in our products, but I believe the venison is of exceptional quality.
All deer species have different tasting meat ranging from dark and strong to light and mild. Be sure to ask for venison by species, know what you're eating and where it's from.