Deer hunting in Scotland
Hunting experiences in the Scottish Highlands
Rough scenery, unpredictable weather, whiskey, pristine nature and myths like Loch Ness is what Scotland stands for and makes this part of the UK a sought after destination for tourists from all over the world. In addition to these qualities, Scotland has a lot more to offer, especially for us hunters. In particular, the Highland hunts for deer, red deer and sika deer are known. In addition, Scotland also offers interesting hunts for roebuck and small game such as pheasants, ducks, grouse or rabbits.
For my first trip to Scotland, I opted for the classic highland hunt for red deer with stalker. The chances of success here are very large as the stalkers know their territories inside out and it is enough for 3-4 days normally for a launch.
Preparation is everything
A hunt in the Highlands also means a lot of running work because you have to approach the game over long distances and in hilly terrain. In order not to be completely unprepared, I had started to prepare the body a few weeks before with light running training like jogging. In addition to fitness, the weather also plays a crucial role, and as there are three different seasons in Scotland on one day, the hunter should be prepared accordingly. I have chosen the Deerhunter Almati jacket and pants, this has already served me well during the hunt in England, as it is both waterproof and breathable thanks to the Deertex membrane. In addition, there are extra pockets for the trousers in the knee area Highlands are very beneficial.
After the preparations were completed and also the weapons permit of the Scottish police was available, it went by air to Edingburgh from where the drive followed 3 hours north to Kingussie in the Highlands. Arrived in a nice little hotel in the evening I enjoyed the rich dinner which was included in the full board and was looking forward to the next morning when it starts at 8:45.
First day first success
The next morning we drove to 8:45 to the hunting area, in which gestalked on the first day. After the welcome by the Duncan, my guide and Mathew the pony guide, in this estate, the shot deer are traditionally transported to the valley with the Highland pony, it went straight to the trial shot. Two shots from the 8x68s in the 9 were enough to convince the guide that the gun and the shooter work. 10 more minutes and we parked our Land Rover at the foot of a valley on whose sides each towered the mountains. From now on it was time to continue on foot and stalk up the mountain. Hangparall, it went along the stream in the valley, accompanied by steady exhalation of the slopes. Already after 5 minutes we could discover a first pack with deer, however, these were 500 meters above us on the opposite slope and the wind was exactly on them, so that a stalking would have been pointless. Encouraged by the first sighting, we walked along the stream for a few miles until we came to a slightly higher level. From this we were able to see an average group of red deer, about 50-70, on an estimated 3-4 kilometers. The observation with the spotting scope showed that shootable deer were there and we want to tackle this group.
Since there was no higher vegetation we had to rely on the natural soil conditions such as hills and valley cuts and tried to get closer to the group. The best way was to descend back to the valley and then come to the stream below the group and then turn it along the ridge. Arrived below the ridge, the ascent began. First in the normal gait, then on my knees until we finally crawled flat on the ground in the direction of the deer. When we finally got to them and set up the rifle to fire, the deer suddenly noticed something and slowly made their way over the ridge.
As nice as it is to see such a large number of devotees at once, it is so hard to shoot one, as there is almost always a second behind it. However, as the deer did not flee, but slowly withdrew, we still had hope that we could approach them once more behind the ridge. And indeed, after we had ducked some 100 meters and covered the seals we were back to the deer. And this time everything went well, we were able to align ourselves slowly, my guide select a suitable matching deer and when he was free couldichich shoot him with a targeted shot from the 8x68s.
When hunting here in the Highlands, especially my mounted on the R93 bipod felt positive as almost all shots from the lying position done. My first Scottish stag was an old odd ice splitter. True to the Scottish tradition of the first deer, I got sweat of the killed deer on both cheeks. While we were feeding the stag, Mathew was already on the way with the Highland Ponnys to load the deer and transport it back to the Landi.
After a lunch break and the loading of the ponies we went in unusually nice weather with blue sky comfortably downhill back to our car to deliver the deer on the farm.
The same procedure in the morning the next day, 8:45 am after the English breakfast we went back to the farm, where Duncan and Mathew were already waiting for me. Plan was again in the same place to start, but this time the effort should be a lot higher and our patience put to the test. The first ascent was the day before. We walked parallel to the slope along the stream and glazed the mountains to the right and left of us. On the left of us, we saw a group of 30 deer up on the degree, but Duncan said it would be too easy to tackle this right now and we could still do it if we could not find any more in the mountains.
The valley continued to pull as we marched and marched incessantly. As I was already thinking back to the first deer group and wondering why we had not simply stalked them, Duncan stopped suddenly and gives me hand signals that we should duck. Again, Duncan has discovered a group of deer, about 18-20 and this time he wanted to stalk them. They stood well protected in a small depression, which was in the mountain. Since the wind today blew much rougher than it had the day before and kept turning, we had to cautiously stalk the group without getting in the wind. As if the wind was not enough now started the real Scottish weather with alternating duration and drizzle, as well as short sunny sections. Meter by meter, we crawled on our knees through heaths, mud holes and small streams that came down from the mountain, moving farther and farther towards the spot where the group was last seen.
After exhausting ascent, we finally reached a small ledge, from which we actually wanted to shoot at the deer. However, when we looked carefully over the ledge we had to disappointed to find that the group had already moved on and now grazed about 300-400m further up. However, since there was no cover in between, a new plan was needed; and that meant to descend all the way back, turn the mountain over, and tackle the wind from the other side.
When we had already covered half the distance to our new point and looked at the back of the mountain, we could discover the next problem that could ruin a successful outcome of our hunt. Beside the small group, on which we stalked suddenly appeared on the mountain back two huge Hirschrudel on, Duncan estimated it on approx.200 pieces, which brawn in the upper third of the mountain. If these would discover us and flee, our little deer group would leave with. Our only hope was that they would notice us from afar and pull off slowly over the ridge. So we stalked on, first upright, later the closer we got to the dip with our group, the lower one on our knees until we got on the belly meter by meter.
Our plan worked. Through our slow but widely visible stalking action, the two large packs set in motion and they slowly moved over the ridge. Thanks to their position in the valley, our target group was unable to follow the movement of the pack and stayed behind. Since the depression was relatively deep we could only sometimes see the antlers of the deer, but as a young deer had already moved out of the valley towards the mountain, we could only crawl extremely slowly towards the depression. After we were still 80m away there was no further because no cover was available. So we had to wait and hope that the deer set in motion and pull on the mountain, so that we would get a good shooting position.
After over an hour lying in the drizzle finally movement in the group and luckily we went uphill. Since we were already aligned we could now address the passing group well and Duncan selected the deer which I should kill. No sooner had he described me the deer is already the reticle 20 at the finish and the deer breaks down in a bang. Again for Scottish conditions very good Eissprossenzehner with hint to the twelve. The group flew across the mountain after the shot.
Exhausted from the long stalking and the tense lying over an hour in the rain, we first made a short lunch break to strengthen, before we then hid the deer and turn with the pony on the long hike back to the car. Meanwhile, the rain had stopped and a strong wind let my Almatikombi dry in no time. Arriving at the car my pants and jacket were already dry from the outside, but by the effort of long running over the mountains my underwear was wet. Like the day before, we brought the deer to Duncan’s farm, where he was taken care of and the trophy was cut off.
For me, two exhausting but very successful hunting days came to an end. Since I had actually booked 4 days and could not expect to have killed both deer on the second day, I used the remaining two days to relax and to visit various sights around Kingussie. Thanks to the many possibilities in the vicinity of Kingussie, for example Loch Ness, Wildlife Park, Highland Museum, Reindeer Park, … the stay is not only for the hunter but also for the whole family.