Part Two: what to expect when booking your first red deer stalking trip.
Following on from our blog post in May, here is the second part to the article. If you would like to refresh yourself with that article, click here.
This second part is about what you will encounter when you have arrived at Kingairloch, we hope you enjoy reading about what to expect on your first red deer stalking trip.
So, you have now arrived at Kingairloch and you are settling in. You are taking in your surroundings and thinking, “I’ve got to walk up THOSE hills!” Well, you can breathe a sigh of relief as you’ve been working on that fitness!! If you are in one of our self-catering properties we usually pop by in the evening to make plans for the following day.
Many self catering stalking parties choose to stay in The Steadings.
In most instances we opt for a 9am rendezvous, you should be ready to go to the hill by this point. Boots on, packed lunch sorted and any urgent phone calls finished. We will take you to the rifle range where you will either familiarise yourself with the estate rifle or re-check the zero of your own. Once everyone is happy with the rifle, the stalker will have made a plane for the day. He will have checked the weather and most importantly the wind direction and will have a rough idea of where the deer will be located.
Checking zero at the target
Setting off in 4x4s you will head to a suitable place where the vehicle will be left and from then on you will be on foot. We usually take no more than four people in one group (not including the stalker) as the fewer the people, the easier it is to remain un-seen by the deer. You must follow in single file and keep noise levels to a minimum, only speaking in whispers. Your stalker will dictate the pace, stopping every now and again to spy the hill ahead and to check the wind direction. Do not step out from behind the stalker, you want to keep as hidden as possible. If the stalker suddenly drops, you must do the same. If he goes through a river or starts to crawl, again you must do the same. There may be a lot of zig zagging to either get around groups of deer or to simply work around the wind- it is amazing how the wind will eddy in the corries.
Taking time to spy the hills
There is no formula of when a suitable stag/hind will be identified. We operate a selective cull and if there is not an animal that fits within our parameters, we carry on until we find a suitable one. You may find yourself in a shootable position in the morning or it could be into the late afternoon when you think there isn’t a chance of finding something suitable, that you are suddenly lying down looking through the scope.
At this point, the most important thing is that you settle your breathing and keep as calm as possible. You may have to move the rifle. The ideal position for a clean and safe shot is to have the animal standing broadside, so be patient. We try to get you as close as possible; in most cases shots are between 80m-120m.
After the shot has been taken, don’t rush to stand. If the deer was in a group, the remaining herd are often are not aware of what has happened, so we try and let them move off in their own time.
The deer is then gralloched (stomach removed) and as it is your first kill, you will of course be blooded. In most instances the deer is then dragged to a suitable location from which the ArgoCat can then collect. You may be asked to carry kit or help drag, so just be prepared. Going down hill is often the time when we go over our ankles, so just be a little bit more cautious.
Guests are often asked to help drag
Once the deer is in the larder, it is weighed and prepared for collection by the game dealer or for us to process further into venison packs. By this point, you are most likely in the bath having a dram! You are of course more than welcome to visit the larder.
Stalking red deer on the hills on the West Coast of Scotland is quite often at the top of bucket lists for the keen sportsman or sportswoman. I hope this post has helped you prepare for your adventure of a lifetime. Quite simply, it is the scenery, the silence, the challenge of pitting human whit against the truly wild red deer and of course reaping the rewards of hard day out in the elements that keep bringing people into this sport.
The hills of Kingairloch; a stalker’s paradise.
If by reading this post you would like to book a trip, get in touch by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org