Many people when think of deer stalking in Scotland think of traditional open hill stalking. A day starting with a breakfast on an estate, a stalker picking up a client and leading to the hill, stalking to the beast, shooting the beast selected by a stalker, job done. Ghillie would take a beast on a garron pony and to the larder. This is all very nice, but at £500 a stag it is not something that can be done too often…
More people have access to leases run by forestry companies. There are more lucky ones that have access to mixed woodland with regeneration areas, clear fells and young plantations that all make interesting stalking, but usually these areas are quite vulnerable and forestry companies prefer to control deer on these areas themselves. So majority of leases offered to an average stalker consists on mature conifer forests. Some are better that the other, but stalking of these leases is usually limited to rides, any tracks going through a forest and boundaries. I have access to one of these leases and it makes stalking very challenging and success rate is quite low. Stalking only makes sense in certain areas and when it is windy to cover any noise one makes. Several high seats dotted over the area often offer better chance to connect with deer, especially reds.
A buck from the high seat
This was one of this mornings when it made more sense to go on to the high seat than to walk. I went to a new high seat we put up on one of the cleared rides. This should be a good place for red deer and being not too far from the track would make extraction easier. I wanted to spend one morning on this new high seat and a young red stag would make good eating this time of year. I slowly stalked around the boundary and along the moorland watched by couple of dozens of sheep. Thankfully they stayed on the hill and did not run away.
I jumped the fence and slowly got to the high seat. I made myself ready and watched along the ride. I had been sitting for 10 minutes only when a buck popped out of the forest. He was steadily walking across the ride and I barked to stop him. He paused and I quickly took a shot. I saw the bullet strike and it was not good… I saw the shot was too far back and the buck kicked his hind legs which is never a good sign…
I gave him some time and went down the high seat and followed to the place I thought he was when I pulled the trigger. As I thought no blood anywhere… I left all my gear and took the rifle and looked between the trees for any signs of the buck. Thankfully he did not go far. He made only 20-30m between the trees and bedded down. His head was still up and when I moved he looked my direction so he was still quite conscious and could run further on if I moved any closer. I had a clear line of sight so put the cross hairs on his neck and shot again. His head dropped and he expired instantly.
He was a nice 6-pointer with one of the tines broken off. Good bodyweight for the area and I dragged him to the ride to perform gralloch. However, I could not find my knife anywhere… I dragged the buck to the road and went to the car and searched my backpack… no knife… I quickly loaded the buck to the car and went home and gralloched him in my back garden .
This is one of this stupid laws you cant have a knife with you unless you have a good reason… So I take my knife out of my car every time I finish stalking and this time I never put it back into my backpack…
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