Dramatic mountains, scenic lowlands and great swathes of arable and forestry land have drawn the avid sportsman to Scotland to hunt deer for centuries.
This skilful and solitary tradition is as old as the hills themselves and attracts visitors back year after year, often to stalk over the same ground they have become so familiar with over time. The skill is in reading the wind direction, keeping out of sight, knowing how to locate and make an approach without being detected and knowing how to be a skilled shot with a rifle to ensure a successful and swift kill.
From the iconic Red Stag, immortalised in Landseer’s infamous masterpiece “Monarch of the Glen” painted in 1851, to the elusive and secretive Roe deer, much sought after as a trophy, Scotland has the capacity to rival any other destination on Earth.
Although much of the tradition and ceremony of the hunt remains unchanged over the centuries, underpinning the entire experience are the latest and most modern management practises designed to ensure the health and continued survival of the Scottish deer population, whilst minimising impact on necessary human endeavours such as forestry and farming. Hunting Scotland is proud to be associated with estates and stalkers for whom proper management takes precedent over trophies.
Season 1st July – 20th October
Red Deer are the largest mammal in the UK, and one of our true native species. The majority are found in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, although now their range has spread over much of mainland Scotland.
The shooting of red deer in Scotland is undertaken on the open hill and in woodland. Close encounters are commonplace in the woods where the use of high seats can be a very successful method, along with being a great way to see some of Scotland’s more cautious wildlife at close quarters. Hunting on hill ground is however where Scotland’s red deer stalking traditions lie. Walking in Scotland’s high ground; a highly skilled strategic approach to a suitable shooting range; the selection of a suitable cull animal within the herd management plan; being unseen and in close proximity to Scotland’s largest mammal; placing an accurate shot for a fast kill and transporting the quarry home by Garron (hill pony) or All Terrain Vehicle in the company of your stalker, all go to provide an experience that will create memories for a lifetime.
Season 21st October – 15th February
The stalking of female Red Deer (Hinds) is, as with most mammal species, the true key to managing the herd.
The hunting of the frail, old and poor quality animals ensures that numbers are kept to a pre-defined level. Hind stalking takes place in the winter months which means short daylight hours, hinds in large groups and potentially adverse weather, together making for a challenging hunt for the sportsman. In fact, most seasoned stalkers will admit to hind stalking being the true test of a hunter’s abilities! The Scottish Highlands in winter can provide some of the most dramatic scenery on a bright crisp frosty day, although conditions such as this are not conducive to good hunting! On a typical Scottish winter day the correct clothing is an absolute must, and it is imperative that the guest listen very closely to their stalker and follow his advice to the letter. A short season, allied with an all too brief period of daylight hours and pressure to reach a pre-determined cull figure, invariably give rise to the opportunity for guests to stalk and potentially harvest more than one animal in the day’s outing.
Season 1st April – 20th October
Elusive, secretive and massively sought after as a trophy stalking a Roe Buck is, although a very different experience from traditional hill-stalking, a true art in itself. Taking place in the first few and last few hours of daylight the prime time for stalking Roe Bucks is considered to be May, and late July / early August.
In April some very old bucks may be in hard horn and considered to be ‘shootable’ whilst most prime bucks’ antlers still growing and velvet covered. During this month the cover is low from the previous winter and there is good opportunity to shoot poor quality young bucks according to the management plan. May is the month where mature bucks’ antlers are clean of velvet and the cover in the woodland is still low enough to give the hunter a visual advantage. The most exciting time for roe buck stalking is however July/August, when the unpredictable reactions of roe bucks during their rut can provide the hunter with close encounters at any time of the day. The use of roe calls can add to the anticipation and excitement particularly when a buck is in view and begins to approach. For a month or so after the middle of August bucks tend to rest up and recover from their rutting activity and begin to show themselves again in September.
Season 21st October – 31st March
Although during the Spring, Summer and early Autumn Roe Does tend to be solitary, territorial creatures, usually with followers at heel, during the winter stalking season they will oftentimes be seen in groups congregating around the best sources of food in their area.
Although early mornings and evenings are still prime time for stalking roe does, with the necessity to feed more frequently, daytime stalking can also be successful, particularly where roe are found on open hill ground. On heavily worked agricultural land the hunter’s window of opportunity tends to be short, with an hour or so after dawn and before dusk being best. One of the most productive methods of hunting during the Roe Doe season is from highseats, or Doe Boxes, situated in an area that they are known to frequent.
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