Well after a very kind invite to go and sample red stags in the rut for the very first time I packed my car up and set off on the 300 mile drive north on Friday at 5 after work for what promised to be a long but very worth while trip well into the highlands north of Inverness.
After a good run and one stop just over 5 hours later I arrived and when up to the hotel to meet the stalker at the hotel bar where you could hear the stags roaring out on the hill. As my anticipation increased we had a few drinks and discussion of the plan of action for the next day. They told me getting a stag should be no bother as the rut was in full swing and stags where everywhere.
I went to bed ready to go out in the morning and was rudely awoken at 6 in the morning by a stag getting very vocal near to the lodge. And after a couple more hours of broken sleep I was up for a bacon roll and a quick shot at the target as I'd left my rifle at home so I could get on the roads in good time on Friday. It was a unpleasent moring with heavy rain and mist on the hills. After a few shots right on target we went and dropped the other stalker and his guests on their beat with the Argo we went to the road to spy the hill for potential stags to work in on.
We spied 3 stags each holding hinds and a few younger stags milling about trying to get a piece of the action.
We headed to the hill above where the stags should have been, parked up and started to stalk down to see if they were still there and by this point the rain had stopped and the mist was starting to clear. The roaring made finding the stags easier but having never heard a stag roar before it was a very strange noise to hear but really built the excitement as it got louder and closer. As the ground levelled off and we reached the edge we spied the stag we were after and his hinds as he was the one we could get into with out the easterly wind send out scent their way.
We dropped down to a crawl to get in a bit closer for a better look to make sure he was a shootable stag and luckily he was. He was a good 300 plus yards away we'd have to slip down further to get to a shootable distance and with the grass and heather being so high this proved to be far from easy. All the time the stag had been roaring away at his competition out on the hill and they were roaring back.
The next part of the stalk was not so much a crawl as a slide down the slope where you didn't use your arms to move but to stop sliding too far down. After about 75 or 100 yards of this we got to a potentially shootable spot as one of the young condensers decided he'd try and sneak in on the hinds. The big stag holding the hinds was having none of this and ran straight at the young stag and I was hoping we were going to see a fight but the young stag new what was good for him and turned tail and disappears as fast as he could. As the big boy was walking back to his hinds he came into a clear spot where the tall grass would not be an issue but he didn't want to stop and carried on into an area where the grass obscured a clear shot. But we waited 10mins to see if he'd work back into the clear area but he didn't so we moved In closer to get a clear shot.
This involved sliding down further still and after 2 or 3 more goes we finally got to a place where we could see the stag clearly but he'd couched down. This wasn't for long as the next stag started to roar and he could straight up to vocalise his displeasure to this and once he turned broadside and I'd lined the cross hairs on his shoulder I sent a round his way from around 160 yards away and a good thwack came back and he ran about 10 yards stopped and ready to put a second shot in just in case he buckled and fell over, a few kicks and he was down. We waited for the hinds to clear over the hill and few the stag to breath his last breath an then headed down garrolched him and headed back to the truck to go back to the yard, get the quad and trailer and go back for the stag. Driving along the front of the loch it was amazing to see how many stags there were out there and roaring away holding there hinds.
He was a 7 point stag and weighed in at around 85kgs and was still in good condition this far into the rut.
We got the head on the boil and headed up to the hotel for a few well earned drinks and a bite to eat.
With the head cleaned up I hit the roads to face the A9 an the hoards of lorries and caravans doing 45 but was happy to have experienced the rut in full swing and had had a great few days.
The Monarch of the Glen
Clean up head