Saturday, 30 October 2010

Why they call it a 'break'

After what has felt like a long season with guests, we've had a bit of a break from the stalking. Here's what we did on our break...

On Monday, two of us shovelled about 40 tonnes of gravel into potholes in our main track.

On Tuesday, I managed to get to my traps. I pushed on with them as I don't see myself having too much time for them over the next wee while (ie the whole hind season.) I finished with them when the light got so poor that my digits were in danger.

On Wednesday I cut replacement poles for our larder porch. Then cut firewood for the rest of the day.

On Thursday, said firewood got chopped.

On Friday and Saturday we were driving grouse. Saturday was cold and blustery but Friday was a hell of a day of gales and 'power showers'.

So, if there are any guests out there reading this; PLEASE COME BACK!!

And in case you were in any doubt, I've included a pic or two which go to tell you that winter is just around the corner.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Plus La Change...

Yesterday was the last day of our stag season. Normally I'm sorry to see it end but this year has been no normal season.

It has really felt like a struggle this year. For weeks there were no shootable stags on the ground. The weather has been profoundly mediocre. And when the rut eventually broke, the shootable stags I did see were always on the far side of 100 other beasts.

So I'm happy to see the back of them. Except I haven't.

Today is the start of the hind season and I've no shortage of them. As there are guests in the lodge for the whole week, we're now stalking hinds with them. And what do you suppose happened?

That's right! Every time we tried to get to hinds, there were stags in the way. And shootable ones too. Oh, how I laughed at the irony of it.

Anyway, I managed to open my account with 4 beasts for the day. And over the next 4 months I'll be needing a barrowload of deposit slips.....if those damn stags get out of the way.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

We Didnae Expect A Spectre

I thought I'd share these pics with you. I had this couple out after a stag and, although we didn't get one, we had a day of great views.

As you can see it was a day when the glens were full of mist and just the tops were clear. A very light and variable wind ruined our first two stalks and a shot from the neighbouring estate spoilt the third.

On the plus side, we were lucky enough to witness a "Brochan Spectre". This rare phenomenon occurs when the sun casts your shadow onto a bank of mist. When you look at your shadow you can see a rainbow-hued halo around its head. Encompassing this is a second, wider concentric ring of light. The photo doesn't really do it justice.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Stuck into a rut

I was really looking forward to getting going this morning. Indications were that the rut was -at last- starting on my beat last Friday. So you can imagine my dismay when I looked out by the first light of day and could see nothing for thick mist.

The mist persisted all morning. I kept my allotted guest amused by taking him fishing. We covered a good stretch of river using my favoured 'hit-and-run' tactics and saw plenty of salmon jumping but, alas, it was not to be.

At midday we could see the mist starting to rise so we hurried back to the lodge. There we met another guest who HAD met with some luck. He'd caught a salmon in the pool at the bottom of the lodge drive. Less 'hit-and-run', more "och, this-will-do-me-here". Maybe I need to review my methods.

Anyway, I collected my ponyman and walking ghillie and headed off to the hill. It was still misty when we left the rover at the top of a ridge but before we'd had the chance to drop out of it I could hear roaring. Hallelujah!

I had to investigate 4 or 5 groups of deer before I eventually found a stag I considered mature enough yet poor enough for shooting. Thereafter followed a soggy 40 minutes as we crawled to within range. It was going to be a tricky shot off the top of a rock (to get the rifle clear of the bracken) made slightly easier when the stag decided to come back along the slope towards us. He eventually stopped 120 yards below us to return a roar that I'd given him.

The guest and his rather tasty Rigby rifle both made a good job of the shot. Upon investigation the stag turned out to be the mature switch-topped eight pointer I thought he was. And back at the larder he turned out to be 16 stone forbye. That's a good stag for these parts.

We made our way home at the end of what turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. That's been a rare thing of late, and it makes you appreciate it all the more. The sun wasn't the only one beaming.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Driven to Tears

We've had a massive day today.

We were driving grouse but went to drives on the far margins of the ground. The day started with an hours walk (and a 1,000ft climb) before we started lining out! Thereafter we walked....and walked.... and walked.

We've seen a shedload of grouse today. Some of them even went the right way but when they go through the butts in packs of 50++ with a strong tail wind behind them, even the best of shots can't make much of them.

So we ended up with 76 brace of grouse and 20 brace of tired legs.

It's been a great day 'oot the hill' and my only gripe is that, after all this activity today, finding a stag tomorrow could be a serious challenge.

Now, where's the radox.....?

Saturday, 2 October 2010

A Change of Luck

Today was a good day. After what seems like a long time of poor weather and poorer prospects (no stags on the ground yet) I had a change of fortunes today.

After a stalk that revealed nothing but young, unsuitable stags my guest and I were about to abandon our position. Just before we did another 3 came walking over from the next hill. Almost right to us. And amongst that 3 was one that would do. Almost certainly the only shootable stag on the beat- a 16st 6lb, eight pointer.

And after our day was done, I was back home with an hour of daylight left. I grabbed the fishing rod and headed down to the river. I was just about at the point of calling it a day when a fish took. Nearly 20 minutes later I landed this beautifully proportioned salmon of about 15lbs.