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Dr John Fletcher
Harthill, Reediehill Farm,
Auchtermuchty, Fife, KY14 7HS

A Life for Deer - <i>a deer vet tells his story and theirs</i>.

A Life for Deer - a deer vet tells his story and theirs.

John Fletcher had his first book, A Life for Deer, published by Victor Gollancz in 2000..It is a campaigning autobiography describing the struggle to have deer farming established as a farming enterprise despite being denied the agricultural support that sustains sheep and cattle farming. In addition it describes much of the biology of deer and it combines a gripping story with thought-provoking views on history and its effects on modern life. The book had a series of enthusiastic features and reviews in The Scotsman, Herald, Times, Guardian, Independent, Scots Magazine, Country Life and many others as well as good radio and television coverage. The following are a selection from some of the reviews:

Book Reviews

The Times

‘From Auchtermuchty they set up deer farms worldwide and in 1990 won the Queen’s Award for Export but then had to batten down the hatches. For years they feared an imminent forced sale of the farm. They worked every hour they could…’

The Independent

‘… he has written an autobiography packed with good sense and shot through with imaginative observations. How many vets can quote Hesiod and The Seven Pillars of Wisdom convincingly? How many would retain their sense of humour in the face of the setbacks he suffered?’
‘No hunter himself, the author nevertheless recognizes that the urge to hunt….still exists in many people….He has many stirring experiences to relate, and along the way he explores specialist subjects that fascinate..’
‘Enthusiasm for venison is a key theme all through this book…. It was his desire to produce healthy, lean meat, combined with a determination to provide deer with better living conditions than those of the open mountainsides, that led him to buy Reediehill, a 48-acre hill farm, in 1973.’

The Herald

‘Fletcher has made it his life’s work not only to understand and interpret the story of red deer but to present it to a wider audience.’
‘He is determined to debunk the romantic myths surrounding deer’ 
‘He and his wife Nichola bought Reediehill, a small farm on a windswept hill high above Auchtermuchty and set about farming deer. The story of his exploits both as a deer farmer and as a worldwide consultant on red deer farming makes an exciting read’
‘Fletcher says that a large part of the satisfaction comes from knowing that you can survive on 85 acres. This is no mean feat when you realise deer farmers are not eligible for subsidies, unlike sheep and cattle farmers.’

Press and Journal

‘In this engrossing book, Fletcher explains how his passion for deer grew from an unsentimental, hands-on knowledge of the animals and a rejection of the clichés commonly associated with them.  However this is much more than just a book about one man’s obsession.  Fletcher raises some fundamental questions that affect all of us: our modern attitude towards hunting and how carefully dictated taboos dictate what we eat.   This fascinating book is a must…'

The Scotsman

‘Fletcher has strong views of the ‘compact’ between animals and those who eat them, something which in this age of mass food processing tends to be quietly ignored.’

The Guardian

‘Fletcher’s obsession began early…he was less interested in the bambi image and more in what makes them tick’
‘His evangelical attitude towards deer has led not only to a highly interesting life, but to research that suggests that, if we are going to eat meat, better deer than cows… Fletcher believes that our metabolism is used to lean game meat and thus cannot cope with the fat-rich flesh available in supermarkets throughout the Western world.’
‘He and his wife…. set up a deer farm in Auchtermuchty. One of their first ventures rivalled even TV back-to-nature chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s escapades: they invented the Veniburger.’

The Veterinary Record

‘This is a delightful book: a light read full of information on a variety of subjects…the author provides a considerable amount of fascinating Scottish history….There is much interesting information on native wildlife and a number of hilarious veterinary episodes are recounted….The book is thought-provoking …..This is a cautionary but useful tale for young enthusiasts.  It demonstrates the advantages and disadvantages of following an idea rather than the well-trodden professional path.’

The Scots Magazine

‘John has achieved that very difficult thing, a style and material suitable for a general audience and yet it is also fashioned in a way that is acceptable to a technical readership… the book is rich in curio detail….One of the most pleasant things … is that the text is besprinkled with historical nuggets..’
‘It is a moving story of a struggle against constant odds…  In establishing his deer farm…John and others were probably creating the first, new, domesticated animal for five thousand years’

Deer

‘A splendid mixture which gels together to make an entertaining, yet serious and thought provoking book. This is quite simply one of the best deer books I have come across and one, moreover, which will appeal to a wide spectrum of readers.’

Deer Farming

‘A Life for Deer is a remarkable book by a remarkable man, for it is as much about life as about deer; indeed, John Fletcher’s perceptive philosophy may fascinate deer farmers as much, or more than, his fundamental thinking about deer... It is impossible to give more than a flavour of this well written and deeply thoughtful book in a short review but, once started, it is difficult to put down...’

Derek Cooper of the BBC Radio Four Food Programme

‘John Fletcher is that rare animal, a passionate enthusiast who never bores. Few people know more about red deer or write with such authority. His research on the Isle of Rum led him to create with his wife Nichola a pioneering deer farm in Fife. He tells the story with wit and style and I greatly enjoyed the book.’

The Daily Telegraph

‘If you want to discover more about deer, try the fascinating ‘A Life for Deer’……’

Country Life

‘Proving the viability of farming deer has tested Dr Fletcher’s enthusiasm and dedication to the limit, and the triumphs and disasters make gripping reading.’

The Courier

Mr Fletcher who set up Scotland’s first deer farm near Auchtermuchty writes: ‘The regeneration of the antler is one of the mysteries of biology and if we could fully understand it it might open the door to enable amputees to regenerate limbs.’

Animal Welfare

‘All in all a thoroughly entertaining read, whether you are a deer farmer, a scientist, or a person who enjoys an account of rural life interspersed with acute observation of changes in the way humans relate to one another and to the animals around them….it should be a standard text.’

The North American Deer Farmer

‘his wisdom from years of research and experience are cloaked in humor and comfortable language. This composition is a must-have for all deer farmers as it chronicles the establishment of a new livestock industry in the face of resistance.’

The Highland Review

‘The book describes how John and his wife, Nichola, developed Reediehill but also raises and answers many serious and fascinating questions about deer and their management..’

The Shooting Gazette

‘This may not be a hardened stalker’s perspective but for those who are passionate about deer it will provide fascinating reading material. This autobiography has received rave reviews from practically all of Britain’s serious national newspapers.’

Farming Online

'This book is such a good read: it will go straight to the heart of many farmers and their families'.

The Countryman

‘Underlying the tale is a real depth of feeling for the psyche of deer, and for their welfare in both the physical and mental sense of the word – the book is a delightful read. If you finish the book without at least thinking of signing up to Fletcher’s religion of deer farming I would be surprised.’

The Scottish Farmer

‘Mr Fletcher has been recognised as one of the world’s foremost authorities on deer behaviour and physiology. ‘A Life for Deer’ is both a cracking piece of entertainment and a heartfelt argument for a fresh look at Scotland’s production and consumption of red meat.’

 Fletcher’s Game

Fletcher’s Game

Life for Deer was revised with the addition of a chapter on the author's experiences in the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak and was re-published in paperback by Mercat as Fletcher's Game. (Mercat Press, Edinburgh, ISBN 184183 0585)

Some press comments about  Fletcher’s Game:

Book Reviews

The Guardian

‘He demonstrates seriousness of purpose, not least in his convincing advocacy of the nutritional value of venison and its potential role in countering obesity. 
He is a man of ambition writing of his pioneering commitment to deer farming. No-one can fail to sympathise with the massive setback endured when his breeding herd had to be slaughtered because of a threatened epidemic of tuberculosis. Not only was there no government compensation at that time but it also turned out that not one of his deer had been infected.’

The Veterinary Record

‘This is a delightful book: a light read full of information on a variety of subjects…the author provides a considerable amount of fascinating Scottish history…. The book is thought-provoking  . It should be read not only by those with an interest in wild and farmed deer, but also by those concerned with the economic, social and political aspects of food production… a fascinating book’

Country Life

‘Proving the viability of farming deer has tested Dr Fletcher’s enthusiasm and dedication to the limit, and the triumphs and disasters make gripping reading.’

Country House and Home

'Fletcher's Game is a compulsive read…a must for deer lovers and food fanatics alike'.

Small Business Review

'….extraordinarily moving…. Fletcher's Game should be compulsory reading for all civil servants and ministers…..'

Scot’s Magazine

‘A compelling and humorous autobiography’

Gardens of Earthly Delight: <i>The History of Deer Parks</i>

Gardens of Earthly Delight: The History of Deer Parks

Always fascinated by the deer parks in which he worked Fletcher wrote Gardens of Earthly Delight:  The History of Deer Parks. It was published by Windgather Press in 2011 (ISBN 978 1 905119 36 3) and received excellent reviews in the national press including favourable attention from gardening historians. 
Book Reviews

Niall Manning of Garden History Society

I have read and reread your manuscript and find it brilliant. It has been a fascinating and enjoyable read. I certainly feel that I have learnt an awful lot and have a much clearer picture of the complex subject. 

All the chapters present an amazing amount of detailed research in an accessible, engaging style. Throughout, you have brought your wide practical experience of deer management and these pithy comments add unique authority to the text. Your central theses in Chapters1 - IV are clear and convincing. The subsequent Chapters are a joy to read. It is difficult to choose one out of the rest- but Chapter 11 is wonderful and brought me back, among other things, to the Pisanello frescos in Mantua. The new ideas about the "trenches" in Falkland and Tarbolton will be of great interest. Your comments about the origins of the English Landscape Garden build on Williamson's suggestions and should shake up the endlessly rehashed received wisdom on the subject

Congratulations on an amazing book which will be a milestone in the field. It certainly deserves early publication. The scope for illustrations is really exciting.

Professor Chris Smout, Historiographer Royal

What you write promises a book of extraordinary insight and interest, which I very much look forward to reading after publication. I can’t think of anything quite like it for its promised mixture of approaches So at least I can wish you every success with it. If the world is just and you have got a good publisher who sees that it deserves not only publishing but selling (such publishers are rare!) I think you ought to have a best-seller.

Oliver Rackham

Dear Dr Fletcher, I am sorry to have taken so long to appreciate the wonderful book that you sent me. It is a masterpiece of scholarship and attention to detail and a wide range of learning. I very much enjoyed reading it. I hope the attached comments will prove useful.
     I don't know whether it had a review in the TLS: it should have, but that journal commissions its own reviewers and is not very good at picking up this sort of book.
     Yours in gratitude,
          Oliver Rackham.

The Financial Times – Robin Lane Fox

Buck the Trend -
Deer enrich the landscape with ancient cultural symbolism but should gardeners wish to see  more of them? By Robin Lane Fox (Financial Times July9/10th 2011)
Under ancient oak trees herds of deer are grazing on the finest park turf in Britain.They set off the landscapes of historic country houses and project an image of long continuity. Three hundred British deer parks still have resident bucks with antlers. No other country can match this reservoir of free-range venison on the hoof. Why are they such an evocative symbol? Are they as ancient an institution as their setting implies? Do we want more of them and if so, where? They certainly draw on a rich symbolism in art, religion and literature. In the Psalms they pant, admittedly while being hunted in the pre-Blair era. Buddhists still revere the Buddha's first Deer Park Sermon, made in a deer park near Varanasi in India. In Christian carols deer are "running" and in English poetry they are "stricken". In the early 1900s James Joyce associated himself with the imagery of a stag as a hunted creature. He then fantasised that his wife, Nora, had been unfaithful to him. As Shakespeare reminds us, the husbands of adulterous wives are said to grow horns, like stags. Female deer are thought to be sexually promiscuous, so straying wives are treating their husbands as mere beasts. My personal stag award goes to poor St Eustace. One evening, while hunting, he saw a sight which strikes a chill into any apostle of the chase. A stag trotted out from the woods with a Christian cruciflx shining between its horns. Eustace gave up hunting for life. In Rome, just behind the Pantheon, a fine little church in his honour shows cross-bearing stags sculpted on its pillars. Opposite, the unsurpassed Cafe Sant' Eustachio sells Italy's best chocolate coated coffee beans in individualised little envelopes each with an image of the cross
bearing stag on the front. My Oxford pupils keep me supplied with packs of Sant' Eustachio coffee beans, sending them back as a pleasure and a warning to their tutor during their Roman holidays. Deer parks now have an excellent new book which is full of yet more fascinating information. John Fletcher is a specialist deer vet whose PhD from Cambridge studied the mating behaviour of deer. He shows what a long history it has. At the Roman villa of Fishbourne in Sussex archaeologists now claim that they have found bones of fallow deer which date back to the Roman era. Nonetheless the fallow's rise over roe and red deer had to wait till major imports by the Normans in the llth century. It was supported by habits of grazing and behaviour which Fletcher explains masterfully from his practical work with the species. Deer are flashpoints of cultural difference between human societies. In China game parks go back to the Han dynasty and deer are attested in their successors. In the Imperial Hunting Park in Beijing the French Jesuit missionary David saw a type of deer unknown to the west as late as 1865. It was named after him and sent to Paris, Berlin and eventually Woburn Abbey in England, where it bred freely. Meanwhile it died out in China, killed by hungry peasants and gun-happy European soldiers. It has been reintroduced into reserves in its Chinese homeland thanks to the 14th Duke of Bedford, its patron at Woburn. Nowadays Chinese cultures have a passion for antlers. They believe that the "velvet" coating has medicinal properties and will even combat ageing and fading sex lives. There is not a shred of scientific evidence that it does so, verified by randomised trials. Meanwhile Chinese alternative medicine causes antlers to be cut off living stags and the velvet to be eaten, because it is the one tissue that can regenerate itself and so a dose of it is thought to help the elderly. Fletcher reminds us that "the removal of growing antlers is illegal in Europe on humanitarian grounds". What about the antlers of dead stags? Here too there are some intriguing cultural variations. Rows of trophy-antlers are associated above all with German-speaking cultures. They run from floor to roof in ex-baronial schloss-halls and disfigure the facades of Bavarian wood-painted houses. The combination of shooting-towers and antler collections is particularly German, reaching extreme proportions with the Third Reich's Master of the Hunt, Hermann Goring. I suspect it was from this cultural core that the fashion for antler breeding in special parks was taken up by Tito in Yugoslavia, the Politburo in Soviet Russia and the Ceausescus in Romania. Fascinatingly, the competitive counting of "points" on antlers did not take off in Britain until the late 19th century. Fletcher suggests it was an import from German culture. It was promptly linked to an imagery of power, heads with 12 points being "royals" and heads, very rare, with more points being "imperials". What Fletcher does not know is that I hold the world record as a stalker. Aged 16, in expert company, I fired my one and only rifle shot at a distant herd of deer on a Scottish hillside. I killed the stag, to my prompt revulsion, so I vowed never to go stalking again. My vow was reinforced when I found that I had shot an "imperial". I received its amazing antlers and as I had no need to eat their velvet, I had them stripped and mounted. They still hang above my piano, on which I sometimes play Tom Lehrer's immortal hunting song and its tale of a huntsman's illegal trophies on a "morning bright and clear". Unlike Lehrer's protagonist I have not gone on to shoot game wardens and a cow. I have retired after one shot but remain at the top of the world's rankings. Nowadays the centre of the deer-farming trade is New Zealand. Fletcher estimates the country has "two million breeding females", I presume in the deer population, and dominates the British supermarket supply. Whatever is Scotland doing? Surely Scots ought to be deer-farming all over their iconic landscape and wiping out this long-distance trade in venison. I wish we could wipe the meat out altogether. Venison has spread from German and Scottish baronial menus and now turns up as a smelly main course at commemorative dinners. I have enjoyed it only once. In Oxford the famous deer park belongs to Magdalen College, where the tale was that each tutor in the college had a deer in the park identified with them. If they left or died the deer was shot and eaten by their colleagues at a High Table dinner. We did indeed have venison for dinner during my time there and it was such fun to imagine which colleague we were eating. Later the controversial historian AJP Taylor was a candidate but in his honour I ate vegetables only. Do we gardeners want more deer? Fletcher observes that Germany has no fewer than 6,000 small deer-gardens of up to l0 hectares in which deer are being "farmed". In Britain deer are a gardener's nightmare. Landowners are now held liable for road accidents caused by deer from woods adjoining roadways. Sadly, the edges of once-handsome woodlands are being felled and cleared to avoid claims if deer jump into traffic. In America, deer are a horticultural menace. Fletcher concludes fondly that "deer are the natural denizens of our paradises and they are part of our earthly delights." Try telling that to gardeners in New Jersey. Park the herd in deer-parks, but never let these "earthly delights" near shrubs with tempting bark and shoots.

The Literary Review

‘Here is a thrillingly polymathic gambol …… a singularly enjoyable book’

Country Life - Tim Richardson

Tim Richardson applauds an always enjoyable and sometimes controversial history of a country-house essential
The deer park is one of those visions of medieval England that seem almost impossibly romantic as survivals nowadays. Whose heart does not leap at the-always somehow unexpected-sight of a herd of deer grazing in a park? Red deer are more 'authentic' as the native species, but, since the Norman Conquest, fallow have been considered more beautiful-'they love to form great aggregations, and a dense sea of exquisitely spotted deer murmuring and piping quietly amongst themselves can still dazzle us with sheer beauty'. This is an accessible, wideranging and immensely enjoyable history by a deer veterinarian who gained a PhD in the subject at Cambridge and can convincingly quote from Italo Calvino, Gaston Bachelard and William Wordsworth. It is billed and presented as an international history, and there are short chapters on deer parks in China and Mughal India. Its bulk and real value, however, is as a chronicle of the English deer park, with side-roads into Scotland and Continental Europe. Who, for example, knew about the widespread practice from the late 17th century of 'water hunts', when deer would be driven into rivers, lakes and pools so they could be killed by huntsmen in boats? This was often combined with the erection of elaborate mock castle facades or triumphal arches, through the gateways of which the hunted animals were driven into the water for the entertainment of spectators. 
The author notes that. In recent years, historians have begun dropping the 'deer' from deer parks, to acknowledge the wide range of other activities that occurred within the pale: grazing of other livestock, timber production, pheasant coverts and so on, as well as less decorative estate industries such as quarrying, smelting, tanning, milling and charcoal burning. But Dr Fletcher makes the point that deer, as status symbols (their main role, he says), were always unquestionably considered the most important asset in any park, and persuasively argues that calling a deer park merely a park isn't good enough. He also reminds us that the straight radial avenues of large formal landscape parks, emanating from a central patte d'oie, or'goose foot', are derived from the need for spectators and participants in deer hunts to be able to view the quarry and the hunting party from one central point, as they crossed the alldes from one parcel of woodland to the next. More controversial is his contention that the ancient wooded landscape of Britain in actuality resembled a kind of savannah, or open wood-pasture, because of the grazing habits of deer and other animals, which result in groves of trees. The New Forest represents the largest single survival of this habitat in Western Europe. It may prove difficult, however, to dislodge the average person's vision of pre-enclosure Britain as a kind of Robin Hood sylvan paradise. Mention must also be made of the author's brand-new theory regarding the derivation of the term ha-ha, a perimeter ditch in an English park. It is usually said to be a phonetic rendering of the A-ha!'exclamation (as in: A-ha! A hidden ditch!'). No, says Dr Fletcher, citing his Dutch colleague Frans Vera, who tells him that the Flemish word for deer park, haga-as echoed in the names of The Hague in the Netherlands, Haga in Sweden and possibly Hagley in this country-is pronounced something like our ha-ha.
Country Life, July 6, 2011

British Archaeology - Paul Stamper

Recent books (notably by Liddiard, Creighton and Mileson) have markedly advanced understanding of Britain’s medieval deer parks– their chronology, form and function, and
possible incorporation in wider lordly designed landscapes. Fletcher’s study is broader in scope, including material from ancient China and Persia, and early modern Germany, for instance– all informative, and like the rest of the book well illustrated in colour. But what sets this book apart, and makes it so stimulating for anyone interested in historic deer management, is the fact that Fletcher is a deer vet (and understands hunting). Here are accessible discussions of deer management, habitats and the characters of the different breeds (fallow deer are easily managed and can be carried on a man’s back or even caught in mid-air as they leap), with some tolerant rebuttals of landscape historians’ much repeated inherited truisms.
 

Deer, Journal of the British Deer Society

‘scholarly but thoroughly accessible book….. man’s relationship with deer is central to this book. The author considers the significance of deer to humans from the dawn of history…there could be nobody better qualified to produce this authoritative guide to the deer park, his knowledge of and interest in the subject is impressive..’

Veterinary Record

 ‘provides a delightful and thoroughly researched analysis of man’s interaction with deer through the centuries. It provides a fascinating insight into the domestication of farmed animals and attitudes to hunting and man’s treatment of animals. To all those wishing to understand the complexity of the relationship between humans and animals and how this has impacted on our landscape and culture, this book is most strongly recommended.’

The Times - Marcus Binney

The ‘absorbing Gardens of Earthly Delight looks into the more ancient origins of country house parks many of which began as enclosed deer parks dating back to the Middle Ages.’

Historic House – Tom Williamson

‘….an important scholarly work. Clearly and engagingly written, packed with new insights, attractively produced and very reasonably priced, this is one of the most important books on landscape history to appear in recent years. It deserves to be widely read, by professional historians as much as by the wider interested public.’

Archive of Natural History – Brent Elliott

This book is not simply a chronological account of deer parks. It is organized to argue a thesis: the historical and cultural importance of hunting as a determinant of landscape form. It encompasses a surprisingly wide range of subjects and cultural references: there are chapters on the development of forest law, the changing duties of park keepers, the custom of mounting deer heads on walls, the taste for venison; and of course the discussion of the reproductive biology and behaviour, introduction dates, and status of roe, red and fallow deer will be of interest to zoologically minded readers. But the book keeps returning to the question of the impact of hunting on the landscape. The opening chapters address the antiquity of hunting generally, and with it the question of the sort of landscape in which mankind ?rst developed. The determination of our aesthetic response to landscape by the savannah in which mankind is alleged to have developed, an idea most closely associated with Gordon Orians, is hinted at without being made explicit. More important is the treatment of the evidence brought forward in recent decades by Oliver Rackham (1980 Ancient woodland) and F. W. M. Vera (2000 Grazing ecology and forest history), which has built up a picture of an ancient and mediaeval Britain characterised largely by open wood-pasture. Fletcher draws heavily on their work, and pursues additional in?uences: he claims that tree-lined avenues and patte d’oie patterns of radiating avenues are derived from continental arrangements for viewing hunts in progress, and that the ha-ha originated as a barrier to keep deer from grazing coppices and seedlings. Portions of the author’s autobiography are scattered throughout the text, and an intermittent effect of immediacy is created by phrases like “A park keeper was telling me only this week ...”.

Native Woodlands History Discussion Group newsletter - Coralie Mills

As a deer vet by profession and an internationally respected expert on deer behaviour and management, John Fletcher is uniquely placed to explore the history of deer parks and man’s long relationship with deer from an informed and practical perspective. John takes the long view delving back into deep pre-history and archaeology for origins, and assuming a global scale for his impressive examination of the historic evidence for the evolution of deer hunting and deer parks. Underpinning all is the concept of the parks and their produce – venison especially – as an ultimate expression of high status.
This book makes you think – well, it made me think in any case – not just about the history of deer parks but about the evolution of the human psyche and our relationship with the natural world. It reveals why many of us carry within us a notion of paradise which is very like a medieval deer park. If you have a regard for evolutionary biology as well as history you will probably like the author’s approach.
What then does this have to do with trees and woodlands? Well, a good deal really, because of the wooded nature of many of the surviving historic deer parks. Indeed the author introduces his account from aloft in the branches of an ancient oak tree where he waits undetected by the deer underneath to deploy his vet’s tranquilliser gun. The book is as much about landscape history as it is about deer, and the evidence is presented convincingly regarding the degree to which medieval deer parks were artefacts – man made cultural landscapes – rather than relicts of the wildwood – and thus may be seen as a stage on the continuum towards the more formal designed landscapes of the 17th and 18th centuries. It is no accident then that our oldest known living oak trees in Scotland of late medieval date are in deer parks at Cadzow, (Chatelherault) near Hamilton and Dalkeith near Edinburgh and were very probably planted, as the underlying rig and furrow attests at Cadzow. Of particular interest to NWDG readers will be the exploration of ancient woodland management techniques used in deer parks showing how grazing and productive woodland can co-exist. The author also examines how  deer parks evolved to encompass both ornament and utility and were managed to produce many other useful products besides venison.
This book is not just an account of Scottish deer parks, it is much broader than that. But fortunately for NWDG readers the author is from Scotland and does include a good number of Scottish examples and illustrations. Britain has many more surviving deer parks than anywhere else. However compared to England deer parks in Scotland have been relatively little studied; there is much more research to be done, even just to establish a baseline of the surviving deer parks in Scotland, let alone to unravel their histories. The holistic multidisciplinary approach embodied in this very wide ranging and well illustrated book will hopefully inspire those future studies.

Deer

Deer

In 2014 Reaktion Books published John Fletcher’s Deer in their animal series.

Book Reviews

Country Life

‘An attractive and wide-ranging summary of an animal that is perhaps more central to human culture than any other. John Fletcher’s lively text is illustrated with artefacts, memorabilia and paintings covering the different species all over their global domain . . . [this] small but packed book has a tasty morsel on every page.’

The Field

‘This is another title in Reaktion’s remarkable animal series, offering a tantalising mix of science and the arts. Nothing helps us to understand an animal more fully than knowing its history, biology and mythology . . . Fletcher offers a comprehensive overview of deer, from their biological classification to their role in venery . . . well-written, informative and enlightening.’

The Herald

‘a handy pocket-sized primer . . . Fletcher records the persistent association of deer with privilege, renewal (particularly significant among royalty), the role of the poacher in folklore and much more. Make sure you’ve secured a copy before your next Highland holiday.’

Scots Magazine

‘John Fletcher examines the cultural and natural history of these magnificent creatures. Evolution, habitats, behaviour and diet are covered, plus the animal’s role in art and influence on popular myth and song. What Fletcher doesn’t know about deer isn’t worth knowing.’

Scottish Field

‘This is a well illustrated and thoughful little guide taking the reader through the evolution of deer as well as the important place that they have held in mythology and art.’

Veterinary Practice

‘a carefully structured, beautifully illustrated book . . . will appeal to those of a scientific bent and/or with an interest in the arts.’

Canadian Field-Naturalist

‘An interesting and well-written book that details the symbolism and the close association that humans and deer have had over centuries. Anywhere that people have lived, humans have made use of some of the 40 species of deer found worldwide. There are definitely things in this book that everyone will learn for the first time and that alone makes the book worthy of reading. And there are also many wonderful images that really bring the chapters to life.’

North Star

‘As for the book on deer, there could only be one author who could give such an in-depth study of the various species. John Fletcher has done so much for deer, from his famous deer farm ventures to his work as a veterinarian . . . It is against this background that this book deals so comprehensively with deer, including all the British species . . . Refreshingly, the book does not avoid contentious issues.’

Deer, Norma Chapman

‘Deer is a splendid addition to a series which presents biological information alongside cultural connections’