Tuesday, 22 November 2011

I've Seen The Light

Finally, after about 3 weeks of mirk and gloom, the sun came out today.

The morning started off as per usual; thick mist to halfway down the hills, dark and with a heavy drizzle thrown in for good measure. As usual, I donned my waterproofs on departure from the landrover. And proceeded to walk the hill in my own personal sauna.

As I started stalking, the mist started to break up. I watched the scraps intently as they drifted this way and that. There was no discernable wind and it was so quiet I could hear the blood thrumming in my ears. (Not the best of times to be in full waterproofs.)

I managed a successful stalk in the morning and another in the afternoon. Just as Eric arrived with Fergus to pick up the second beast, the sun broke through. I swear I could hear a choir somewhere.

"I'm blind, I tell you! Blind!!" I yelled, falling to my knees. Then I thought I'd better get a snap quickly before it went away again.

I offered this rare pic to the Daily Record for £10,000 but they weren't up for it. They did suggest I contact another of the tabloids but I'm damned if I can remember the name of it.....

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Roamin' in the gloamin'

Extract from a phone call 20 minutes ago:-

"What was it like out the hill today?"
"Och, just another really dreich day. That's six stalking days out of the last seven been nothing but thick mist."
"And have you been getting any hinds?"
"Aye. I got a couple yesterday and three today. After a lot of trying."
"Has anybody else been getting any?"
"Not these last two days."
"So how do you do it?"
"Och, I just go oot the hill and fire off a wheen of shots into the mirk. Then I have a rake aboot and see what I've got. I found 3 braw rucsacks today and all!"

I was joking of course, but if conditions go on like this for much longer, David Attenborough will be doing a special programme about us. We'll be like those fish that live in pools deep inside caves that have evolved without eyes.

By last Friday I think I was starting to suffer from SAD (Seasonally Affected Disorder) but now I'm definitely AHOLED (Absolutely Hacked Off from Light Emission Deficiency).

As I write this, I've just caught the forecast for tomorrow:- Mild, with South-East winds. It's going to bring in low cloud off the North Sea that might be slow to clear in some areas....for a change.

On a brighter note, the accompanying picture is of a young lady who shot her first hind with me yesterday. I'm hoping to bring you her account of the experience. Once she's recovered.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

4 Eds Are Better Than One

Would you believe it? I had 3 guys out stalking today and they were all called Ed. This morning, when they asked me the name of my dog and I answered "Ed", they wouldn't believe me!

So I include a picture of the 4 Eds. While you're looking at it, please note the crappy day in the background. We spent a highly frustrating day working the steep walls of the glen in the background. Visibility varied from bloody murky to blotted out. We stalked hinds only to have them obscured by the mist at the crucial time. We winded hinds when the light wind eddied and spun the mist in circles. We stalked shapes only to find they were all stags when we eventually got to our shooting position. We found hinds in a great position at the end of the day when there wasn't enough light left to stalk them and Fergus (the horse) was already on his way home.

I once managed to go an entire hind season without having a blank day. 198 hinds on the trot- as it were. I was hoping I might have managed it again this season.

Looks like it'll have to wait until next year now.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


You may have read on my blog of the 13th October that a TV production company had been in touch. Well there's more.....

They are doing a series for National Geographic channel called Wild Case Files. In this series they investigate unexplained natural phenomena. One such phenomenon is this strange jelly-like substance that can be found in the countryside at this time of year.

A couple of years back I left a comment on the BBC 'Out of Doors' website claiming that I knew what this was- stag semen! (After all, that's what I'd been told when I asked my colleagues about it 20 years ago.)

Anyway, these TV folk just wanted me to voice my theory for the camera.

Before doing this I thought it prudent to ask around and see if I was, in fact, about to make a monumental Horses Arse of myself.

Amongst the people I asked, I heard theories ranging from 'ectoplasm' to ' frogspawn squeezed from the frog by a predator' to 'slime mould'.

When the TV crew eventually appeared I told them I'd changed my mind and wanted to say it was a 'polysacchirate mucus exuded by a fungus belonging to the trellus genus'. They told me to stick to the script.

So, after waiting 48 years for my big break, I've spent my Golden Opportunity spouting the biggest load of hogwash since the last election. I guess I'm going to be losing the deposit I made on that tasteful mock-Roman Villa in Beverly Hills then....

It's just as well I didn't give up my day job. However that's not what Angel (our Spanish ghillie) was thinking when he had to drag a calf 2 miles back to the landrover today.

I'd already shot a horseful (3) but wasn't going to let that stop me taking the chance when it presented. I know from bitter experience how hard you can work for just a single beast some days. Anyway, it was just a wee calf....honest.

So that's 11 in the bag now. Just another 139+ to go. I try not to think about it too much.