Over the last six months I have tendered for four different stalking leases ranging from 1900 acres to a small stand of sitka of just 450 acre.
I have been offered none of them . . . This isn't a thread of sour grapes, as I am lucky in the respect that I have quite a bit of ground anyway. What it is though is an indication of the over inflated worth of ground and the detrimental effect that has on the management of the deer upon it.
Now to many that know me, I supose I could be described as one of the new generation of stalkers, however I am well aware of how much a bit of land is worth and the economics surounding it, and to that end can only conclude that the sums currently being offered by prospective tenents, and expected by land agents for unproductive ground must be astronomincal. . . . who on earth is paying this and what on earth do they expect in return for their money?
For example; one of the bits I tendered for has a historic cull of four deer per year.
The guide price was into four figures ex VAT . . .you do the maths . . .thats right, four figure guide price for four deer . . .
To my mind the ground was well situated and had potential to hold more deer and provide a decent bit of stalking in a few years time . . nevertheless, any small syndicate going onto the ground would need to show restraint for a couple of years before much of a harvest could be taken.
And here lies a problem, as a syndicate member paying through the nose for a bit of ground, are you going to show any restraint for the overall medium to long term health of the ground or the deer?
I would hazzard a guess and say no, and who could bloody blame them, if your paying a fortune every 12 months you want some venison on your platter, the last thing on your mind is the population of deer next year or the year after . .. . because after all, there's always another syndicate, or another bit of ground if you throw enough cash at it !!!.
Now the crux of it is this - I put in a realistic offer for a promising bit of ground which held few deer, it wasn't accepted . . I have all the qualifications, all the bells and whistles and still didn't get offered the ground . . . upon requesting feedback it was made quite clear that my offer wasn't nearly high enough. . . . who on earth is paying these prices, and is this the reason some ground is changing hand on such a regular basis?
To my mind, on a lot of leases there is no management taking place . . . the ground is viewed, a hugely inflated price is paid, the syndicate takes their pound of flesh, the deer are shot to bits, the lease given up, the next syndicate pays a hugely inflated price, want their pound of flesh, and so on and so on.
Syndicate stalking is now in danger of being a victim of its own sucess, yes stalking is the fasted growing field sport, but give it another few years and I fear unless prices are checked, and land agents stop seeing deer as an endless cash cow we shall all be shooting targets, as this conglomeration of greed and mismanagement can't go on for much longer.