A lot has been going on since my last post.
We've had some beautiful weather with light winds, blue skies and hard frosts (for this time of year; -5). More importantly, the rut has finally come to my beat....with a vengeance!
It's a fantastic time to be 'oot the hill' when the corries and glens are reverberating with the roars of the stags. Strangely, the intensity (and the timing) of the rut seems to vary from year to year.
It's quite unusual to find a stag that has been killed while fighting. I haven't found any in the last two years. Yet three years ago there was a strong rut and I found 3 stags that had been gored to death. From what I'm seeing, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find one or two this year.
On the stalking side, things are a little frustrating. This estate is trying to establish a resident stag herd. To this end we have about 70 stags that stay all winter and are fed. This gives them a big advantage. And a big body. And a big set of antlers.
Unfortunately for me, a lot of these animals find their way onto my patch. And there they hold the hinds against all comers (as it were, ahem). This means that every time I take a guest out stalking I have to make my excuses as we pass these stags over.
So each 'feeder' becomes an obstacle that has to be circumvented in the quest to find a 'shootable' stag. Furthermore, they are also such stiff (ahem, again) competition that the wild stags take one look, get a serious dose of cold...er...hooves, and disappear off from whence they came.
Fortunately nearly all the guests we have are regulars or experienced stalkers. And- all credit to them- they understand our policies and agree with our selective culling. Which is just as well really, seeing as I've just blanked for the second day in a row. Ouch.