Deer stalking in Scotland

Scotland is a prime destinations for deer stalkers from around the world. From trophy hunters shooting gold medal roebucks on East Coast, to stalkers looking for traditional hill deer stalking experience in Scottish Highlands, sika deer hunting on West Coast or unique Soay sheep or goat hunting and wild boar in Dumfries and Galloway. Deer Stalking in Scotland is one of the things a deer stalker should have on their “to do list”.

Red deer stalking in Scotland.

Every deer stalker should at least once in their life try traditional hill deer stalking for red deer in Scotland. It is unforgettable experience. In contrast to deer stalking on continent where you go out at first light or evening, when deer stalking in Scotland you go out after breakfast at stalk in daylight. You will be accompanied by estate stalker or ghillie. Whether using own gun or borrowed estate rifle, firstly you will be asked to shoot a few rounds to check zero. Bear in mind you will be often shooting deer up to 200-250m, and most likely prone, practice this kind of shots. Also high bipod is a good idea as heather can be high in some places.

Some highland estates still use garron ponies for carcass extraction, I recommend them. However, nowadays more often ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles)and Argocats are used.

Stag season starts very early on 1st July when most of the stags are still in velvet, so make sure this is what you want (not my cup of tea…). Also midges are nightmare in some areas, so be prepared to suffer from midges in July and August as well as early September.

The rut starts later than on continent, usually in late September and is often on till mid October when stags season closes (20th October). Shooting stags is quite expensive. Prices vary for stags starting at £350 per animal (for young cull stags) but usually £500+ and hinds £150 per day. It is a good idea to shop around as there are often good deals in less known estates. Also bear in mind you are paying for experience not trophy heads. What is here known as a royal stag (12-pointer) would be a poor to average trophy on continent, so ask yourself a question if you want to pay extra for it. I think biggest Scottish trophy is a woodland stag from Galloway, but as mentioned earlier, Scotland is not for red stag trophy hunters. In my opinion a good day on hinds is much better option.

Be prepared for bad constantly changing weather and dress up accordingly. On average East Coast is drier and nicer, than constantly wet West Coast.

Red deer can be found in Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland and pretty much everywhere  north of the line between Glasgow and Stirling, excluding some western isles.

Red deer seasons in Scotland.

Stags Hinds
1st July – 20th October 21st October – 15th February

 

Sika deer stalking in Scotland.

In some areas even more popular than red deer. In places where both red and sika deer live hybridisation is quite common. Sika can be found on open hill, but probably more common is woodland stalking. Sika rut can be a great experience, especially if you are accompanied by someone who can call stags in.

They are quite challenging to be stalked and can travel quite a long distance after a good shot, so good dog is a must. Prices are quite similar to red deer stalking or sometimes even higher.

Sika deer can be found in Western Highlands and Argyle. There is also a good population of Sika in Peebleshire in borders.

Sika deer seasons in Scotland.

Stags Hinds
1st July – 20th October 21st October – 15th February

Roe deer stalking in Scotland.

Southern England is well known for medal class roebucks, but not many people know Scottish roe deer from East Coast are equally good as English bucks, and possibly at more affordable prices.

East Lothian and Fife are farmland areas where best roebucks can be found. Big gold medal trophies and interesting malformed heads are not uncommon. As season starts quite early, best time of year for roebucks in Scotland is end of April and beginning of May, when older roebucks are clean but vegetation is still low. Rut starts here rather in early August than end of July.

Prices start at £60 per doe or outing. Roebucks are usually more expensive, starting from £150 per buck and more for medal heads. However, it is still less expensive than Southern England. Medal heads start at £400-500 for Bronze, £500-600 Silver and £750 for Gold medal trophy.

If you are not looking for medal heads, there is plenty of opportunities for woodland roe stalking.

Roe can be found everywhere in Scotland, excluding some Western Isles.
Roe deer seasons in Scotland.

Bucks Does
1st April – 20th October 21st October – 31st March

Fallow deer stalking in Scotland.

Whereas fallow are most popular deer in some areas in England, there is not that many in here and they are not best quality. So possibly most interesting and “cost effective” is fallow doe stalking in Scotland.

There is not many fallow, so prices are quite high, but a day on hinds could be arranged at sensible cost if you look around.

There is a population of fallow in Dumfries and Galloway as well as Perthshire in Central Scotland. They have also been seen in Loch Lomond area.
Fallow deer seasons in Scotland.

Bucks Does
1st August – 30th April 21st October – 15th February

 

Wild boar, soay sheep, goats.

There are also other species available for someone looking for something different. There are wild boar in Dumfries and Galloway, but it can be quite expensive experience. Locals use lamps and night vision, so experience might not be to everyone’s taste… Also Soay sheep and goats on Western Isles and Dumfries and Galloway.

Scotland has many things to offer and is prime holiday destination for many, but for sporting enthusiasts it is a country really worth visiting. So if you have already shot Swedish moose, enjoyed driven boar hunt on continent, deer stalking in Scotland should be on your list as well.

One comment

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