This year due to my work commitments I never managed to take my family away for holiday; so we decided to go for a week on Skye during the first week of the hinds. My oldest lad has been out with me for foxes and a couple of roe and is showing himself to enjoy stalking and shooting.
So as not to put him off I thought that a few hours on the hill above a wood that I have stalked a few times would be a rare experience for his first exposure to red deer. He is pretty tough and I have had him crawl through rank heather on the roe for a couple of hundred yards so thought he would be ok.
The weather was perfect all week and on the day that we chose to go out the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. On the way to meet the keeper we spotted a lone hind above the wood so I made a good mark of where she was then went to make a plan with the keeper. He lets me out on my own so I knew it would be good father and son time.
After the rules were laid out we went to the hill, we climbed 500 feet and covered about 3/4 of a mile in about an hour; stopping to take in the views and not put his youth and keenness off.
We worked our way above the wood where we seen the hind earlier, we sat and looked over the lower ground for 20 minutes but it was so cold that it was decided to keep moving for warmth. She had moved on and we went to the area that I last seen her, in the cut above the wood there were fresh droppings going out to the open hill. I gave him the decision stating that it was possible that she came out and went towards the open ground. He wanted to find her, so we decided to go out a bit further on the hill.
We done a circuit and could see no deer on the open ground other than about 2 miles away so it was back to the original plan of getting to the top of the woods. We got back and low and behold I seen a small movement in the trees in a clearing where the sun was hitting. This was a deer paradise where the prevailing wind was blocked by the mass of trees; yet there was a window to offer a burst of heat in the late afternoon. I told my son what I could see, so we lay down and crawled 30 yds to the edge of the cliff to get into a shooting position around 120 yds away. The wind was raw now and I got my lad against me to block the coldness from him. We had seen the hind move but didn't want to shoot her without getting a chance at the calf. We waited for about 20 minutes and I could have shot the hind at least 3 times but still we waited. Finally the calf looked like she was going to get up. I warned my son and as soon as the calf put weight on her feet; she collapsed to the .308. We waited as the hind as out of sight; but within 15 seconds or so, the hind ran out of the woods and towards me offering a broadside shot as she looked back. She ran on 40 yds and into the woods. We got down the slope safely and I asked my lad to look after the equipment (unloaded) beside the calf whilst I retrieved the hind. As you can see, he is pretty happy.
I dragged the animals up hill slightly to the point of the wood where we would drop down through a glade and out of the bottom to make an easier retrieval. As it was down hill I thought I would offer him the chance to do his bit and get used to a bit of hard work. I set up the calf with a drag rope and let him pull the calf on a flat piece of ground for about 50 yds, then followed by a 150 yd drag down a steep hill. I took a video of this and the disappointing thing was when I switched it off. Within 3 seconds of hitting the off button, 2 hinds a calf and a nice stag rose out of the foliage below my lad. I don't know who got the biggest fright but he loved it.
One of the outstanding things was him noticing the other wildlife around and especially the noises that the ravens were making.
A very proud day out with my lad on his first exposure of highland reds. He climbed over 500 feet and done about 2.5 miles for his 3.5 hours