/ Deer Stalking in the Scottish Highlands

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halfaseesaw - on 10 Oct 2013
I despair. This coming weekend will be my 3rd hillwalking trip during the height of the deer stalking season and yet, even with the information super higheway, finding out when and where stalking is taking place is remarkably difficult.

I'm trying currently trying to find a phone number for the Affric Estate. They've got a nice glossy web site but a phone number is nowhere to be found.

Anyone got any inside info?
Xeroph on 10 Oct 2013
Douglas Griffin - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to halfaseesaw:

It's a good point.

Years ago the Scottish Landowners' Association produced a book called "Heading for the Scottish Hills?" which had all the relevant estate maps and contact details in it. I still have a copy but it's 20+ years old.

Is there a modern equivalent?
ring ouzel on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to halfaseesaw: Hillphones should know. http://www.snh.org.uk/hillphones/
In reply to Douglas Griffin: 'Heading ...' is now online: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/news/item.php?id=68259

It's a bit convoluted to use; zoom in on the map to your relevant estate (a knowledge of how the hills fit onto the map is handy, as it's not very clear on this map!) and click on it for contact info.

Nb.Only participating estates are covered, and that's just a proportion of the total. I think that was always the case with the booklet too.
ring ouzel on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to ring ouzel: Then again, maybe not. Sorry.
halfaseesaw - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com: It's not on thehillphones ar heading for the hills.

I've written a nice email. I've emiled astates before and have been deafened by the silence.
Andy Nisbet - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to halfaseesaw:

Sunday will be OK. As for Saturday, the Affric estate have a reputaion for not being helpful, although my info is old.
TOS on 10 Oct 2013 - 94.31.41.130 [461ob.scansafe.net]
In reply to halfaseesaw:
>
> I've emiled astates before and have been deafened by the silence.

it's a shame some of these estates can't set up a dedicated email address;

eg. stalking-info@bigshootingestate.co.uk

with one of those no-reply style auto-replies, with details of where the stalking is due.

It would be a modern version of a pre-recorded phone message, easy to put in place too.
halfaseesaw - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Andy Nisbet: was planning to leave the car about lunch time on Monday morning, wild cam up in one of the corries and then do 5 munros on the way back to the car. Should be sticking to ridges so not concerned about that. It's more the wild camp that I have concerns about.
Douglas Griffin - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:

Thanks, Dan!
Andy Nisbet - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to halfaseesaw:

Personally, I wouldnīt go until after the stalking season.
halfaseesaw - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to TOS: That could take literally minutes to set up. Easier than leaving messages on anser phones.
halfaseesaw - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Andy Nisbet: school holidays don't coincide with the end of the season...
Andy Nisbet - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to halfaseesaw:

I meant it literally, "I wouldnīt go until after the stalking season." Itīs up to you if you want to chance it.
halfaseesaw - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Andy Nisbet: We'll go and I'll keep some alternatives. We don't have to camp up in the corrie but it'd be nice. We could time it to arrive at the site late afternoon.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to halfaseesaw:
> (In reply to TOS) That could take literally minutes to set up. Easier than leaving messages on anser phones.

It's called 'functional uncertainty'. The uncertainty about whether walking is allowed benefits the landowner by deterring walkers every day. If they made it easy to find out walkers would only be deterred on the days they were actually stalking.

TOS on 10 Oct 2013 - 94.31.41.130 [461ob.scansafe.net]
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

It works both ways though; not giving out stalking info could leave you with walkers showing up at the wrong place at the wrong time, spoiling your shoot.

By giving the information out, both parties win.

Personally, I think giving the information out is a better idea.

Most walkers I know would just adopt a suck it and see attitude if no info was available.
So that's quite a few people that 'functional uncertainty' idea won't work with....
Dave Perry - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to halfaseesaw:
I rather think that if the estates make it difficult for folk to contact them, or, simply do not provide the information then they can hardly blame the average person for inadvertently wandering into a stag hunting party - can they?
halfaseesaw - on 11 Oct 2013
In reply to halfaseesaw: Well, I recieved an email last night from the stalker. He tells me that there will be stalking north side of Affric river on Monday and Tuesday but south of the river Affric is fine.

ads.ukclimbing.com
StuMsg - on 11 Oct 2013
In reply to halfaseesaw:

Didn't realise anybody actually cared enough to bother contacting estates.

Just don't dress as a dear.
Fat Bumbly2 - on 11 Oct 2013
In reply to StuMsg: Especially in Edinburgh - you may get skittled like nine pins.

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=565779
halfaseesaw - on 11 Oct 2013
In reply to StuMsg: Surprising isn't it. I've only had 2 face to face dealings with stalkers in 20 something years of walking and climbing. They were civil and helpful. I would like that to continue.
Milesy - on 11 Oct 2013
In reply to StuMsg:
> Just don't dress as a dear.

An Old Dear? I though the blue rinse would make you stick out.
Douglas Griffin - on 11 Oct 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:

> 'Heading ...' is now online: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/news/item.php?id=68259
> Nb.Only participating estates are covered, and that's just a proportion of the total. I think that was always the case with the booklet too.

Dan, you (and the OP!) may be interested in a response that I got to a post on Andy Wightman's blog, from Anne Gray:
http://www.andywightman.com/?p=3175
The intention is that the "Heading for the Scottish Hills" webpages on the outdoor access website will provide stalking info and estate contact details for access-takers. The current service is a pilot one that has been gradually expanding since 2010. There’s a fairly major re-engineering of the software planned for next year which should make the site more user-friendly and enable fuller coverage.

alan wilson on 11 Oct 2013
In reply to halfaseesaw: Perhaps the stalkers dont wish to announce their plans beforehand, in case conditions such as deer location, wind direction etc change, then they can adapt as needed, if they had put up some announcement then they may not feel they can change things.
Dave Kerr - on 12 Oct 2013
In reply to halfaseesaw:

Even with the recently updated phone message I found it difficult to work out whether my chosen route up Beinn a' Ghlo would be viable on Tuesday.

I erred on the side of caution and went elsewhere.

BnB - on 12 Oct 2013
Isn't it obvious? They don't want the deer to find out where they'll be stalking.
Flinticus - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:
Just looked at this: massive gaps. Nearly no use for most of the NW Scotland!
In reply to Flinticus: Indeed!
In reply to Douglas Griffin: Thanks for that Douglas, I'll look out for it.
Flinticus - on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to halfaseesaw:
Contacted Beinn Damph estate by email (though prob not going there now) however, the response was detailed, friendly and informative.
the abmmc on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to halfaseesaw:

Speaking as someone who has been deerstalking many times, leading a pony at a distance behind, keepers can't give detailed information as where they will stalk depends on where they think the deer will be. This is dependent on wind and weather conditions and recent hill activity, other stalkers and hill walkers will send the deer on the move to the deer's other favourite sheltered spots. The keepers I know with popular hills on their ground, i.e. Munros, will never stalk on the main paths to and from the summits, as they will have too many wasted stalks and days for the paying customers. They also know that their rifles will kill at a very extended range so unless they are firing into ground behind their target, they just don't fire. These guys aren't idiots and they don't want their livelihood and home life and mental health jeopardised by shooting someone out hillwalking. I've known of stalkers shooting themselves but never heard of a stalking accidental shooting. I do know of beaters being shot by shotgun by overexcited lines of guns.

Most keepers I know would also welcome some contact by email to their factors office stating your intentions and on what days you will be there, that allows them to plan for alternatives. As someone up in the thread stated, actual meetings whilst a stalk is active between walkers and stalkers are rare; and I hope that this continues.

Tom
Cuthbert on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to the abmmc:

Thanks for your post. I wonder if I could ask you to have a look at my last post in the ledgowan thread? I mean the one on deer numbers etc. Your thoughts are of interest.
the abmmc on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to Saor Alba:

Yup, no problem, I've had a look at it and read through the thread. You've asked me a short question with only a long answer and even that will be incomplete.

My history is that I spent 4 years at Mar Lodge Estate as a ghillie, and spent four long summers there and two winters at the hinds. It was a great time, where my love for the hills deepened and I saw them in a different way from that I had before. While every time I go there, I feel like I am at home; I also had to face troubling thoughts and situations that led me to think of land ownership in different ways.

At Mar Lodge in my time, the 1980s to 1990's, we shot 300 stags and 500 hinds and calves each year. The deer population grew steadily and herds of 500 stags in summer and early autumn were commonly seen. This is a fantastic sight to behold when they are still, but to see them running took the breath away. However, there was no new tree growth and as we've known since Frank Fraser Darling's time the hill environment was almost sterile, so denuded was it. We did winter feed our deer at that time and this helped to keep the deer population healthier. I was lucky to work with stalkers who appreciated that selective culling was proper, and I never worked in a place where any stag was shot, despite inducements of huge financial reward from guests who wanted to take a "trophy" home. My diaries of that time reveal that on the day of the sale from Kluge to the National Trust, I walked over Creag Bhalg and saw golden eagles, buzzards, hen harriers, red and black grouse and a plethora of other birds. I saw huge herds of deer, we used to call the flat top of Creag Bhalg the rose garden, so many antlers did we see on the stages. I saw no new tree growth except in little fenced off areas.

Now the National Trust owns the estate and the deer numbers have been hammered. the head keeper at Mar Lodge resigned in protest at the drastic culling of the deer, and this was reported in the Shooting Times and the Scottish press. I was in Glen Lui at the weekend, walked up Glen Derry and into the upper reaches of Glen Luibeg. I saw no deer whatsoever, and one buzzard. I did see plenty of new tree growth, Scots Pines, and marvelled at one little island in the Lui that was festooned with new Scots Pines. I don't know how to include the link to my flickr site to show a picture of that little island.

I really like that in 50 years or so, the environment of those glens will be transformed. I get the feeling that the empty acres of heather and stones of the last fifty, hundred years will be changed to healthy, new forest of trees. But, I worry about the access to the Cairngorms and the freedom of people to go where and when they like. I wonder what the people who do there will see. The National Trust has clearly decided that deer numbers had to be dramatically reduced. I wonder how long before they decide that the numbers of human visitors also has to be dramatically reduced. This leads to the age old debate about a community's access to land belonging to someone else which is part of all ours community. I wonder how long before we need to buy tickets to go to the southern Cairngorms, dressed up as protection of the land.

Where I lived, a large portion of that population was employed by the estates. Most were involved in forestry and only a few in deerstalking. The rest of the population depended on tourism for their income. My worry is that owners like the NTS will create better environments, with fewer people living there and fewer amenities so that the areas truly become parks with dependent facilities only during the tourist season.

So a long answer to a short question. It is clear from my experience that significantly reducing the number of deer allows real regeneration of the environment. The question of what happens next needs considered now too. My preference is for local communities to own their land and decide how they want to go forward with this precious resource that they will ever only hold in trust for their children and grandchildren.
Eric9Points - on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to the abmmc:

Thanks for taking the time to write a very considered post.

Yes, I do rather wonder how far conservation might be taken in some areas. I'd really like to avoid the situation where access to the hills was restricted as it is in some parts of the US and sometimes reflect that the restrictions in place on Rhum now are no less onerous than those in place when the previous owners were in charge.

I also wonder about the economics of it all. It's no use simply saying that "there must be an alternative to stalking" when all the alternatives I can think of are as destructive as keeping artificially high numbers of deer on an estate.

Can you think of any ways of keeping people working on the land that are more environmentally friendly than having them work on shooting estates?
Cuthbert on 17 Oct 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

Rum is totally different now Eric. The Community own the Kinloch and have the ability to shape their future. I know one of their trustees and they have been successful in getting funding for the new hostel and providing other community facilities. The person I know actually wants the deer numbers reduced.

I don't think shooting is the problem, it has to be done but to whose advantage? Tom makes some great points and I was worried that my post in the other thread would seen to be anti-stalking/deer control/ghillies etc. The opposite is true but activity in these areas should be, in my view, controlled by local communities there and for their benefit. Not some absentee landlord.

Apart from the Tories, I think there is broad agreement on this in political Scotland.

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