Another stag season all but over, and while the rut will struggle on for a couple of weeks yet,some of the big boys are already finished and every day now you can see them heading back to their wintering ground.
i have always felt that Mother Nature was a bit unfair to stags, with them loosing as much as twenty percent of their body weight during the rut ,they could not be in a worse position to face the fast approaching winter.
A Highland winter can be a long drawn out affair, and it's not without good reason that March is known as the hungry month it will be late May or even June before there is any new growth in these parts.
Like many other stalkers I fed the stags through this lean time the purpose of this was twofold
apart from providing them with some nourishment when they were at their most vulnerable it also helped prevent them wandering down to the low ground in search of food, where they were likely to be shot as marauders.
Cattle cobs and turnips fed each day an hour or so before darkness, a couple of shouts would bring the best part of sixty stags at the gallop from the
surrounding hills, where they would jostle you
and give you a prod with an antler if they thought you were taking to long to dispense the goodies make no mistake these were big beasts that could have done you a serious injury if they had a mind to, though I never encountered any malice, nor could they be described as tame these were the same stags that only a short time before that would be on the move if they should catch a glimpse of you or caught a whiff of your scent.
The same beasts would turn up each year along with some new recruits, certain characters would
stand out from the crowd, and. there was always a little sadness when one of these regulars failed to turn up.
Conjecture of what happen had he been shot by some crofter, or killed by a vehicle while crossing a road in the dark tempted by a green bite.
Or Did he slip quietly away in some winter corrie with nothing but the Ravens to mark his passing.