Saturday, 26 February 2011
OK! So that is us finished with our hind cull. And not a moment too soon.
The closing stages were particularly difficult with lots of mist, rain and broken spying. If you've ever tried looking for deer when the ground is a mosaic of black ground and snow, you'll know what I mean. I reckon it would be easier looking for Lord Lucan.
My last day of stalking was a humdinger. There was a huge amount of meltwater coming down the river. So much so that it redefined the term 'footbridge'. Mine (the only one in my whole wee side-glen) was a foot under water.
I had a friend with me helping me out for the day. He suggested that we forget crossing the river and just work the ground on our side. I didn't need much persuading.
So we worked our way out the North side of the glen- and never saw a venison sausage! Then, in a moment of weakness I spied the other side of the glen- and saw a crippled hind high up in the rocks opposite.
This poor beast had managed to give me the slip twice before. I was determined that we should go for her.
After a lot of walking up and down we found the only point on the river that a crossing was remotely practical. It was where there was an island mid-river. I jumped onto the island and was hugely releived to be able to glimpse the bottom in the farther part of the second channel. I jumped for all I was worth and ended up splashing to shore through water up past my knees.
Ken made the jump to the island ok but his attempt on the second jump was a little less Johnathon Edwards and a little more Tom Daley. Just to make sure of doing a proper job, he fell over, plunging both arms in up to the armpits.
And I didn't have my camera!!!!
We went on and managed to get our hind. We dragged her down to the waterside and Eric pulled her across the torrent using drag ropes tied together. Then Ken and I had to get back across.
I resigned myself to cross just where we were and got away with being soaked to mid-thigh. Ken thought better of it and went to look for a better crossing place.
It was as I helped Eric load the hind onto Fergus (the pony) that I caught a sudden movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked up just in time to see a huge splash. Ken surfaced a fraction of a second later and scrambled out onto the bank with astounding speed. He was soaked.
When we joined him he had his jacket off and was pouring the water out of his pockets. I looked into his very pink countenance and, somehow, managed to keep a straight face.
I reckon I should make it onto the New Years Honours List for that.
Monday, 14 February 2011
Last week continued as it started. It was a particularily hard week. Friday was the 'piece de resistance' with lots of walking, lots of stalking and ever-worsening weather.
It was during one especially arduous stalk that my waterproof leggings threw in the towel. They tore from here to breakfast time. Were I a shakespearean character I would have cried "Alas, I am undone!"
As it was, I just cried. And I continued to cry throughout the weekend as the rain and sleet battered down.
My week started with me squelching round to the workshop and forcing my old leggings out of retirement. However, this was done with some misgivings- when I'd last used them they were on their last legs. So to speak.
I'm sure you can guess what sort of day it turned out to be. Drat! (That's short for drowned rat.) The pics say it all.
By the way, tomorrow should be the last day of the hind season. And very welcome it would have been too. Don't get me wrong; I love my stalking but this feels as though it has been an especially long and difficult season.
However, we have applied for a special licence for an extension to our season. This is because we are so far behind with our cull due to the weather. So, my friends, the tales of deering-do will continue for a little longer.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some pressing internet shopping to do.
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Here in Scotland we call the estate manager a 'factor'. Among other things.
Yesterday I had our factor out for a days stalking. And for the 3rd stalking day in a row, weather conditions were adverse. Or 'cac' as we call it in Scotland. Among other things.
On the plus side the snow that had fallen in the night, and the driving sleet that was continuing to fall, had pushed the deer onto lower, more accessible ground. On the minus side, many of them were in full sight of where we started our day. We donned our whites and crawled...and crawled...and crawled...
When our knees were reaching the opposite of meltdown, the wind swirled and the group of deer we were after ran away. Nyarghh!
Fortunately the dreich weather covered their rapid departure, leaving another larger group less than a km away. So we crawled...and crawled...
For our mornings work, we ended up with 3 hinds. In the afternoon the weather turned clearer and colder. We ended up trying to stalk a herd of about 150 deer on a terribly rounded slope. They were highly spooky and kept shifting. Every time they moved, we had to locate them again. And every time we located them, all we could see were ears.
After much faffing about, the deer eventually moved off the slope and into our sights. By this time we could hardly see for our watering eyes and a pair of chimps would have had more dexterity. We were happy enough to get the hind that we did.
Just as a by-the-way, I was stalking out the floor of the glen today. The deer weren't far away but kept grazing away from me all the time. I crawled...and crawled...and crawled.....