Deer-spotting in Zeeland

Written by: Glenn Lakeman, Zeeland nature lover

This blog explains how you can improve your chances of seeing wild deer in Zeeland. There are two types of deer that can commonly be found in Zeeland’s countryside: the roe deer and the fallow deer. How do you distinguish between the two? Quite simple really: the roe deer has a white patch on its rump and the fallow deer has a dark stripe on its tail. That’s all there is to it. All you need to do now is pull on you hiking boots and go looking for deer in the Zeeland countryside!

1. Oranjezon nature reserve

One of the best places to spot deer is in the Oranjezon nature reserve. Take one of the five waymarked trails and keep your eyes peeled. With a little bit of luck you may catch sight of a fallow deer crossing your path as well as the more timid roe deer. There’s a good chance of seeing them in the field between the car park and the start of the trails.

In addition, you can regularly spot them in the bushes and on the grassland clearings in the dunes. Donors to Het Zeeuwse Landschap can visit Oranjezon free of charge. Others pay a small charge of 1 euro per person.


2. Haringvreter

If you’d like to combine a boat trip with watching a herd of fallow deer, you can do this on the island of Haringvreter, situated in the lagoon of the Veerse Meer. There’s an excellent chance you’ll see them here. Until recently, around 700 fallow deer lived here. Because numbers were getting out of hand, the population is now being reduced to around 150 deer. Nevertheless, this is still one of the best places to spot them. Because of large visitor numbers, most of the deer have got accustomed to the presence of humans here and are less shy than in other areas. However, please keep them at a distance of 25 metres. After all, they are wild animals.

3. Kop van Schouwen

The Kop van Schouwen is a diversified nature reserve at the westernmost point of Schouwen-Duiveland. The dunes of Zeepeduinen can be found in this expansive landscape to the west of Burgh-Haamstede. In the middle of this beautiful dunescape is a lake. Large herds of roe deer and fallow deer roam here, alongside some impressive-looking Highland cattle. You can spot these animals throughout the whole of the area. Why not combine your visit to this nature reserve with the hiking trail from Slot Haamstede in Burgh-Haamstede? Tip: the months of September and October are the rutting season. At this time of year in the Zeepeduinen it is not uncommon to hear deer bugling: this is the mating call of the stags.

4. De Manteling near Domburg

A fantastic mix of woodland trails, dunes, deciduous trees and … deer! This is what you can find at De Manteling. This is a relatively small nature reserve located between the villages of Domburg and Oostkapelle. In contrast to the 3 previous nature reserves mentioned, it’s trickier to spot deer here. The best place to see them is along the woodland edges. If you like a challenge, this is the perfect place! Most of all, enjoy its natural beauty and winding paths during the walk.

5. Rammekenshoek

To the east of the village of Ritthem is Rammekenshoek, known chiefly for the fort that is situated here. These are the oldest coastal fortifications in north-western Europe. As well as pastures, creeks and a beach, you will find the woodland of Rammekenshoek here. You might catch sight of deer along the edge of the woods and in the grassland. It might not be easy, but the diversity of the landscape, in combination with its fauna, make it a delightful excursion. With a bit of luck, a glimpse of a deer will make your day complete.

6. Braakman Noord and Zuid

Deer can be also spotted in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. For example, at Braakman, near Terneuzen. It can be quite an experience trying to spot deer from one of the cycle paths, footpaths, bridleways and the wheelchair path. The deer may keep off the beaten track here, so you’re welcome to go off route. For example, follow the trail of cattle and horses and there’s a good chance you could come face-to-face with a deer. Braakman is not the only place in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen where you might stumble on roe deer. Visit Groot Eiland, surrounded by creeks near Hulst, or the Smittschorre woodland area in Axel.

Tips

Now you have a good idea where to spot these deer. You can increase your chances of meeting one of them by following these tips:

  1. Go looking for them early in the morning or late in the evening, towards dusk.
  2. Look for traces in the sand.
  3. Wear inconspicuous clothing and make as little sound as possible.
  4. Take binoculars with you to spot deer at a distance.
  5. The biggest chance of seeing them is in clearings or along the forest edge.
  6. Finally, the most important tip: don’t forget, these are wild animals. Never feed or disturb deer and keep at a safe distance (at least 25 metres).