Red deer hunting—commercializing versus availability


Many deer populations in Europe and North America have increased in abundance over the last decades. The increasing populations potentially entail both ecological and economic challenges and opportunities, but in practice we still know little about the extent to which these opportunities are being exploited in different management systems. The Norwegian red deer population has increased in density and expanded rapidly since the 1950s. Traditionally, red deer hunting has been undertaken by the local landowner and his relatives and friends. The present large population raises the question whether attracting other hunters could provide a higher economic return for the landowners and, if so, if they are interested in providing such hunting opportunities. We designed a survey to learn more about the landowners, both with respect to the present level of hunting income as well as economic costs of, for example, forest and agricultural damage; we also sought to understand their interest in increasing their income from red deer hunting and potential obstacles to realizing such an increased economic benefit. The results indicate that landowners on average think that red deer populations on their land result in higher costs than income but are nevertheless satisfied with the way things are. This highlights that increased numbers of deer need not automatically lead to more income for landowners and that the potential for income may be hindered by cultural factors such as reluctance to allow access to non-local hunters.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    See acknowledgment for members of the group

  2. 2.

    The full questionnaire is available online at:

  3. 3.

    1 EUR = 7.8 NOK (Aug. 2011)

  4. 4.

    In Norway, it is permitted to use sporting dogs for the red deer hunt, and it is also required that the hunter has an authorized sporting dog available to search for wounded red deer (see Putman (2011)).

  5. 5.

    Note that if we estimate average figures bases on the mid-point of each reported reply interval, the net loss becomes NOK 11,400 (EUR 1,462).

  6. 6.

    Available online at


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We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their insightful and constructive comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. This study was funded by the Research Council of Norway (“Natur og næring” program; project no. 179370/I10—“HjortAreal”). We are grateful to the group of the HjortAreal project for advice, in particular Vidar Holthe on behalf of Norges Skogeierforbund giving access to member lists in the forestry, and helpful advice from Anders Skonhoft, Vebjørn Veiberg, Erling Meisingset, Arve Aarhus, and Leif Egil Loe.

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Correspondence to Jon Olaf Olaussen.

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Communicated by C. Gortázar

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Olaussen, J.O., Mysterud, A. Red deer hunting—commercializing versus availability. Eur J Wildl Res 58, 597–607 (2012).

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  • Red deer hunting
  • Landowner survey
  • Hunting income
  • Browsing and grazing costs