We had intended to go out for a full day’s stalking yesterday, though were alarmed by the prospect of disruption from Hurricane Katia. In practice we saw no hurricane but a lot of rain in the morning. So we planted trees until lunchtime and then went out in the afternoon.
After a few weeks in which the hill has been very quiet until late afternoon, there were signs everywhere of activity mobilising for the rut. The odd roar could be heard, mostly from the woods, but there were groups of hinds, single stags and groups of stags stretched out on the hill in a way you only really see in the rut. You could sense the gradual build of the continual restless movement and hormonal electricity you feel across the whole estate when the rut is in full swing.
Visibility continued to be very poor though so it was hard to see what was what from a distance. We headed up to the flats in front of Carn Gorm where we could see groups of deer and very quickly spied a group of mature stags that merited closer investigation. Indeed, there were several cullable stags in the group but they had not settled and kept moving so we had to look else elsewhere.
We had spotted a large stag at the top of Glaschoill Wood so we headed in that direction. We call it Glaschoill Wood; it is actually several hundred hectares of twenty year old native caledonian plantings forming lots of small woods with large open areas in between. It is moorland with trees rather than a wood or forest. Deer love it.
It took us a little while to reach the top of the wood and confirm that we had a mature, cullable stag, albeit a good one. It was moving slowly into range and so we got into position and waited. We shot it at just after 7.00pm and it was just after 9.00pm before we had retrieved it from the hill and brought it back to the larder. There is always an added frisson of excitement coming down the hill in the Argo after dark!
I shot it with my favourite rifle, a Blaser .270 magnum. I had bad experiences with .270’s when I first stalked because I found them a very jarring shot which almost inevitably caused me to twitch. But the switch to the magnum, together with the use of a sound moderator, gives a flatter trajectory, great punch and a very smooth shot with no discernible recoil. The straight pull of the Blaser for reloading takes a little getting used to it but the action is very strong and very safe. I like it a lot. I also have a Blaser .270 which can take more bullets in the magazine and is good for hinds.
A friend visited us during the summer and admired some of the heads on our wall. He was incautious enough to request something similar for a house he is restoring in France. He wants something to engage the attention of the local ‘Chasse’, and I think this should do the trick. I hope so; anyway, as you can see below the head is now ready to go to the taxidermist.