After having a go at wild boar and taking a nice yearling male, me and my father-in-law decided to have a look and find a decent roebuck. We went to another area, which was mainly mature forestry. Not the best environment for roe deer and we wanted to hunt wild boar later on at moonlight, but it was still early and worth having a walk. This was mainly mature pine forest, but unlike Scottish forestry it was a pleasure to stalk. Well maintained tracks, no wind damage, trees spaced out to let a lot of light that there was nice undergrowth giving food and shelter to deer and other animals. Also there were hardly anywhere large mono-cultures in the area. It was all mixed forest, pine trees mostly but also beech, oak and many more. This forestry was populated be red deer mostly, with some roe and small group of fallow. Wild boar were present as well as wolves…
Roe deer hunting in Poland
I often get questions or annoying comments (especially on YouTube…) why I shot this and not other buck, so here goes. Poland and many other continental European countries follow idea of selective shooting (may agree with it or not…). Deer are owned by the state, but hunting rights and venison generally are the property of the lease holder – a hunting club.
All hunting in Poland is done under one organization and all hunters are grouped and hunt as a part of their local hunting clubs. A club can be anything between 15-200 members, but usually 40-90 is the norm. It does not mean all the people are active members or go out shooting at the same time. Clubs also hold large pieces of forestry/farmland (if compared to the UK). One area could be anything between 3,000-10,000 ha (7,500-30,000 acres) and a club can have more than one. So we are talking about 50-100 people (probably not all actively hunting) managing on average 50,000 acres. Each member receives individual permit stating what can they shoot eg. 5 wild boar, 2 roebuck, etc. The venison is sold to game dealer and money goes to the club and are used to pay for any damage deer/wild boar do to the farmland, as a club is responsible for the damage… The cull plan for the area is set by state owned forestry company and will be adjusted annually according to spring census, deer damage, etc.
Because the whole country is following selective shooting paradigm, a set of rules and guidelines for all male deer species exist and all boiled out heads had to be presented and scored after the season. It also means that a permit states what kind of roebuck can be shot (I (yearlings – only spikers and 4-pointers up to 10cm allowed, 2yo – up to 5-pointer(1cm point))), II (3yo+ all bucks below regular 6-pointer (3cm point) up to certain weight of 300-350gr depending on area), medal class (only strong 6-pointers 6yo+ over certain weight) for roe) and this would be verified later. A hunter can be penalised for shooting wrong animal, so it is vital to age live roebucks accurately. For shooting a young strong 6-pointer one could be banned from shooting for 2 years… So, if you are wondering why I never shot a buck that I would normally take in Scotland, this is because it did not fit the set of rules I have to follow here, or I never got that class of animal on my permit.
Because hunting is also more formalised than in most countries, inviting someone hunting in Poland is not at all straightforward… Over the years I was invited stalking with a few people in the UK and I made a few friends and would love to invite them back on driven hunt or red rut, but unfortunately, all foreign hunters have to deal with hunting agencies, not clubs directly or individual members… This complicates things and adds significant cost… Lets hope it changes at some point in the future…
We went to area where my father-in-law saw a good buck couple of times. It was a wet grassland in the middle of the forestry. There was a stream and some water in the middle of it, so it was impossible to cross it in boots or even wellies, but there was better view from one side of the forestry, even though most of the roe usually fed on the other side of the stream. Elevated position gave much better view and wind was better from this side of the field.
We left the car on the side of the forestry track and stalked along the side of the fenced plantation to the edge of the grass field. I could clearly see a doe 2-300m away, but when we got a bit further, there was a buck about 150-180m away from us feeding in a long grass. There was not much point in going closer, as we would have to get down lower to the buck’s level and he was already half covered in grass… So we waited for it to move out a bit. Now, I don’t think it was a good idea, as I waited with the rifle on sticks all this time and got a bit tired. A bit of grass just before the target usually is not a problem for .30-06, but I was a bit lower than the camera (see video below) and was not exactly sure when the buck was ideally boardside. So when the buck eventually came out a bit, I pulled the trigger… and missed…
I never saw the bullet strike and the buck never noticed the shot! I am guessing it went above him. I don’t know how it happened, but this things happen
The buck was still feeding and appeared to be calm, but started moving away from us. I decided to move a bit closer and rest my back on fence and shoot again off sticks, as I find it much more stable with my back resting on something solid. This time I could clearly see the buck, but he was quartering away. I tried concentrate a bit more on the shot this time… He was about to disappear between the trees, when he twisted his body a bit more and gave me one more chance to take the shot. The buck was not broadside and still quartering away, but good enough to try the shot. I squeezed the trigger and down he went..
We went back to the car and drove around to get to the buck from the other side of the field. We went down the path on the other side, and there he was. A six pointer, but with quite short tines. From the teeth wear it looked like he was 4 years old, so good to take and as on permit.
The bullet went behind the shoulder and exit wound was low on the neck, which seemed a bit strange as I thought he was more broadside, but not much damage suprisingly. He went to game dealer and weight 16kg.
If you have YouTube account, please subscribe to my channel and click on “thumb up” button if you like the video. It is a bit shaky as my father-in-law filmed it free hand on max zoom.
Winter deer stalking
I had been out a couple of times recently with not much luck. In late November and early December we had really bad weather with lots of rain and strong wind. Then we had a few days of snow. It soon become really crunchy underfoot that made any stalking nearly impossible.
My strategy for this kind of weather is to go to the places where I can sit and wait for the deer moving. I also like to see at least 200-300 yards, but we do not have many places like that in the forestry. So I usually go to one of my favourite spots. I have one or two I often visit. There are also nice ambush places further up the hill, but I do not go there too often. Mainly because anything else than a single roe that can fit the roe-sack and can be dragged is a nightmare and a few hours of extraction…
I had been to this spot a few times, but did not get anything. I saw a doe with a single kid, but they winded me before I could get a shot. I also saw different roe, but too far away for me. I also had three red stags on the hill, but they never came closer to the forestry.
We had some snow again. I left home early to make sure I had enough time to get to the forestry. I had to leave the car far away near the farm, as the road was to icy for my car to get any near the forestry. It meant an hour’s walk to get to the place I wanted.
When I got to the spot, I thought I was too late, but after a few minutes I spotted a hind on the hill, so deer were still on the hill. After a few minutes I also spotted two roe, and soon after that more red deer appeared on the moor.
It was after sunrise when all red deer kept feeding on the moor 300-400 yards away from me. I counted 10 hinds with calves and a nice 8-pointer stag. There were also two spikers laying up closer. In the meantime roe deer disappeared somewhere and I was getting cold.
After next hour all red deer were laying up in the same spot on the moor ruminating. They had no intention going anywhere… Well, could not do anything about it. I thought I would stay for a few minutes more as the sun started shining from behind the hill and I hoped to get a bit warmer, and decided to go back to the car in a quarter.
I started to pack the camera back to my roe-sack, when I caught a movement on the moor. Some roe deer where coming from the moor to the forestry. I put my newly acquired Tikka M595 in .223 Rem on the sticks and waited for them to stop. I had to be so when the last roe stopped I pulled the trigger. I saw the bullet strike, so reloaded and got another in the rifle scope. Unfortunately, when I was exhaling I did that exactly on the riflescope’s ocular… doh!
I struggled to clean the ocular and when I could eventually see one of the kids broadside through the missed scope I squeezed the trigger… and missed. Tried to clean the scope again and the kid was still there, so now more carefully I squeezed the trigger again. This time I saw the bullet strike and the kid dropped after a few steps.
I could still see the other kid and the doe standing, but it was enough for one day.
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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
This year I missed Polish red deer rut. I decided to visit my father-in-law in October instead. Last year we saw many stags, however all but one were not shootable. All were young medal class animals 14, 16, 18, 20-pointers, not cull stags. We saw one old 10-pointer and spent most of the holiday trying to catch up with him, and when we finally did, he never offered a safe shot. .. So idea for this year was to skip the rut and come in October when both hinds and stags were in season.
My father-in-law had a nice 6-pointer for me to take, he had been seeing him frequently over the last couple of months. He was a nice animal, 4-5 years old, but still a 6-pointer, well bellow expectations. He suppose to be 10 or 12-pointer at that age…
Any typically we could not find the stag. We again saw quite a lot of deer, various stags, a lot of hinds, but not the 6-pointer we wanted to take.
Eventually we agreed to take a hind as I had only one day left. We went for a morning stalk in the area where we saw deer previously. It was very quiet and misty. We slowly followed the track when suddenly my father-in-low stopped and we could see a group of deer between the trees.
There was plenty of hinds with calves, but we still hoped to find a suitable stag, but no, there was 10-12 animals, but all were hinds and calves. It was not easy to select the hind without a calf, but we finally agreed one of the young hinds looked like she was without a follower. They were coming towards us and I had to be quick as the wind was swirling around. I put the cross hairs on her shoulder as she was quartering towards me and squeezed the trigger. .30-06 bullet hit and the hind dropped on the spot.
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We have a good population of red deer on our lease, but I have not been really successful so far. I do see them quite often in Spring and throughout Summer, I also saw a few stags during the rut last year, but when it comes to shooting, I see them in such places I do not even take the rifle off my shoulder… They also tend to disappear for Autumn and Winter months, but are still there as I do see many tracks, just not where I usually go.
Red deer tend to stay in one part of the forestry and it is not easily accessible. We only have one main track going through the block and it follows one side of the land, but reds prefer to stay on the other side. This usually means at least half a mile of dragging through a boggy ride. Not really for me, so I stick to roe deer if I am further away from the track.
It was early September but in Scotland it is still early for any action, and previous year the rut was not in full swing till about mid October. However, it looked like older stags already left male groups and younger staggies were wandering around. Two stags had been already shot this season and the last one was clean, so I decided to have a walk around one morning just to see what was moving.
Weather was not great and I did not see a thing. I was going along the fence and turned to one of the rides that would take me to the track and back to the car. It was the ride where I got a buck earlier and really last chance to see anything that day. I was rather walking back to the car than carefully stalking when I suddenly froze as spotted something further down the ride. I looked through the binos and could see the tips of the antlers. There was a stag behind the trees looking at my direction. I slowly put up the rifle on the sticks and watched him through the riflescope.
All I could see were the tips of his antlers and part of his head obscured by the branches. He was looking directly at me, but could not figure out what I was. I felt wind on my back and thought that was it. However, he was still there and looking at me, but he could not see me through the branches.
I watched him through the scope when spotted a movement behind the stag. Another set of antlers, so he was not alone. When the second stag went out of the trees further on the ride, the one I was watching took a few steps forward to see what I was. With his neck stretched he looked directly at me and I felt wind again on my back so decided to take a shot. The only place to put the bullet was the neck, so I steadied the rifle and squeezed the trigger.
The stag dropped on the spot and I could see another 6-8 pointer behind him running to the woods.
I waited a few minutes and approached the stag. He was a nice 2 years old 6-pointer. Nothing really special, but a good one to take. The Hornady SST bullet expanded well and never exit the neck.
Now the fun began. Gralloch took me a few minutes and I was ready to drag it to the track. Not further than 300m, but I was wet after first 10m… I dragged him on for another 10-20m and waited to rest a bit and have another go.. It took me an hour to drag him to the track, then a few attempts to load him.
He was 68kg (150lbs) at the dealer so not a big deal, I saw stags more than twice his size, but I was really knackered… Maybe I should be doing it more often to work on my fitness…
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