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Thread: Scotland - a tale of persistence in the face of bad luck

  1. #1

    Scotland - a tale of persistence in the face of bad luck

    Malcolm came to an abrupt stop, slowly raising his index finger to point ahead into the fog. My eyes followed his line, and came to rest on the black shape of sika stag, just as it began to bound off. I muttered several unprintable words and felt that the black cloud of doom would never leave.
    This was my 6th morning in Scotland, and my 5th day stalking. Over this period of time my normal state of optimism had been slowly crushed. Not only that, but my mood was infectious – Ebola infectious. Just yesterday Malcolm had made the generous offer of a return trip at a significant discount, to offset for my complete and utter lack of success. His reputation was being savaged by my horrific luck.
    I had started the week extremely “chuffed” as you would say. The trip from Glasgow to the north was beautiful. The stop at the Birnam hotel in Dunkeld for a proper Scottish Fry Up was well worth it. The greeting at the cottage was warm and welcoming. The lovely Sandra was at the top of her game, producing magnificent meals daily. The first evening my brother and I walked to the top of the hill behind the cottage and were stunned with the panoramic view – a mixture of green glen, Old Caledonian forest, and highland heather.
    At the end of day 1, the Finnish contingent (Juho, Matti, and Tiina) had put a respectable 6 point sika on the floor. Things were looking good. Brother and I had no shots, but we saw deer and some beautiful scenery and had no complaints.
    From this point on, my personal luck rapidly went downhill, including breaking off a front tooth. By Wednesday, the Finnish contingent had scored again. Baby brother, with the guidance of FallowStalker (Mark) had made a climb up the Craig (aka Heartbreak Ridge) and after a 3 wait in the chill wind took a nice stag.
    I however was well into a record – a record number of stags running away, glimpses of stag arses disappearing into the trees. I had became magnetic – in a repulsive sort of way. Trying to change the plan we thought maybe we could climb the Craig – but bad luck also controls the weather – locking the tops into a fog
    Instead we opted to head north to Lairg and hunt a forestry block for the second time. Here I was able to take the full brunt of bad luck. After a difficult start we were able to stalk within 120 yards of a magnificent stag. The only problem was that this was “The Duke’s Deer” as long as he remained on the other side of the fence. As the rain picked up we stalked back to the truck – dejected. The bad luck was too heavy to be washed off even by the pouring rain. As the final straw for the day – just as we were leaving a spiker red showed himself, offering me a 40 yard neck shot. With 3 witnesses I managed to completely miss the shot – and not by a small margin. The stag pranced away, while I slunk into the truck. That evening at the cottage was miserable for – I was convinced that I had traveled 6000 Km for nothing.
    Which brings us back to my opening paragraph. Par for the course, it was Friday and with few stalks remaining it seemed that the bad luck would never leave. After the foggy stag bolted away we continued to stalk on. After about a mile we stopped again to glass a small glen from a ridge about 100 yards above.
    Within 15 minutes I saw movement and pointed it out to Malcolm. He confirmed it was a sika – a hind. Had there been any desire to even consider a shot, that was completely quashed. She walked directly behind a tree and remained there. After a few minutes she bedded down – ensuring that if we tried to continue stalking she would bolt and alarm the entire area. We had no choice but to sit and wait her out.
    Within another 10 minutes there was movement again. Thorough glassing showed nothing, suggesting it was one of the ubiquitous red squirrels. Five minutes later, another glimpse, more glassing, more nothing.
    And then – just like that – the clouds of bad luck parted and the sun came out. Swaggering into the clearing was a large black stag. He walked with a deliberate and dominant gate. I had the crosshairs on him immediately when Malcolm whispered wait till I stop him. A whistle paused him and I sent 130 grains of nosler into the near shoulder – planting him on the spot. A short wait to make sure he would stay down and then we worked our way to him.
    As we neared, I was Super-chuffed (if that is even a word) – and so was Malcolm. He pointed out that this was “The Big One” that had been seen only in glimpses. My luck had changed, and his reputation had been salvaged. All in all – quite a great animal for my first trip to Scotland.

    Should anyone want a fuller and much more depressing version of this story and I will go on ad naseum about the first 5 days.
    Last edited by Cootmeurer; 31-10-2014 at 16:55.

  2. #2
    Good write up and nice stag!

    Think about it this way... it's the unsuccessful days which make us appreciate the good days!


  3. #3
    Good write up, glad you finally had some good luck, suppose the real question is was it enough for you to consider a return trip at some point? or enough to put you off the Highlands for life.

  4. #4
    Well it was worth the wait for that Stag Curtis. The weather again this year has been super warm, and even as I write this at home the temperature has topped 21'F and has broken the highest record in the UK.
    The same weather caused issues again with the rut in Scotland. We had Sika stags running in batchelor herds and without hinds for most of October, and the temperature was again in the high teens. In 4 weeks we had one frost, which for that far north at that time of the year is unsual.

    The following week after your visit the temperature dropped and deer moved. In all we took 18 deer in four and a half days on the SD week!!

    Despite all of this we got there and you will remember that black cloud being lifted when that big black Sika stag walked into the opening in the old Caledonian forest.

    Regards to Scott and keep well.

    Best wishes

    Malc and Sandra
    All grades of deer stalkers/hunters in the UK and overseas catered for. Level 2 DMQ signing off available. Over 30 years experience in the stalking/hunting industry. For friendly and professional help go to


  5. #5
    Tenacity pays off, that is a nice looking stag.

  6. #6
    Most certainly I will return. It may take a couple years to save up the money, but both my brother and I will return. I saw a large number of red stag arses - they have to be attached to antlers

    The countryside is magnficent (although I will probably fly direct to Inverness next time) and needs more time to see. The area around Loch Leven was some of the most beautiful ground I have ever seen.

    On top of that - I have hunted/stalked for over 40 years, and I understand that luck is part of the game. That being said - it still does not make it easy to bear when bad luck is pizzing a stream directly on your head each day. It does start to wear you down.

  7. #7
    That's a good Sika and an even better write up, great photos too, thanks for that
    I thought I could see light at the end of the tunnel, but it was only some fecker with a torch bringing me more work

  8. #8
    Nice meeting you Curtis and that is a cracking stag well done.

  9. #9
    well done curtis ,ive had a similar year never seen so many does out of season .nice trophy u got to remember you trip by

  10. #10
    Great write up and a nice looking stag!

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