I found this red deer skull about three months ago. I found it in a poachers pit in Suicides Graves wood.
Poachers are people who shoot deer without permission of the person who owns the land to steal the meat. Sometimes they work during the night so no-one can see them or catch them. Sometimes they shoot the deer with a gun, sometimes they use a crossbow, and sometimes they use big dogs to hunt deer.
After a poacher has killed a deer, they cut off the head and the bottom part of the legs, called the metatarsal. Then they throw these bits away, usually in the same place in the wood. When you find a pit you can find a lot of skulls together without any spine or ribs. I have found three different poachers pits, and found some nice skulls. I found my unicorn red deer skull and the red deer skull with the extra tooth in poachers pits.
This deer skull was different to the ones I usually find. The braincase had been broken open on the left hand side, and a lot of the skull around there was missing. This is what the left hand side looked like closer in.
This is what the crack looked like on the back of the skull.
This is what it looked like from underneath.
I hadn't seen another red deer skull like this but I think I know what happened to the red deer. What I think happened is that it was shot in the head, and the bullet broke all the bone on the left hand side around the braincase. When the head rotted down, the broken bits of bone must have got lost.
The best way to shoot deer is to shoot them in the heart, because they die quickly, don't have much pain and the bullet won't damage the stomach or other organs so the meat isn't spoiled. Here is what the Deer Commission for Scotland say about shooting deer. If you aim for the head and hit, the deer will still die quickly. But the head is harder to hit than the heart. If a deer is eating plants, the bit where its heart is stays in the same place, but its head moves up and down.
This is a stag that I saw near where we found the skull. It isn't the same deer, but it was probably about the same size, but the deer in the picture was probably a bit older.
This deer skull is now on my shed with four others. Dad and I filled the braincase with a special kind of foam to make it strong again so it can be hung.
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