Deep valleys, sharp ascents, high mountains, clear lakes and wild streams: The Scottish Highlands are one of the most exciting and challenging hunting regions of the world. ‘My heart is in the Highlands chasing the deer’ is the chorus of an old traditional Scottish folk song by Robert Burns. He knew way back then that hunting in the Highlands is a matter for the heart. Not only because of its beautiful nature and various types of terrain, but also because of the warm Scottish hospitality and the whole atmosphere, the Highlands attract passionate hunters from all over the world.
Scotland and the Highlands
Scotland is the northernmost part of the United Kingdom. It is divided into three different regions: The Southern Uplands, the Central Lowlands and the Highlands. The Highlands are located in the north and have a mountainous character. The nature is characterised by lots of treeless moor. The Great Glen is a tectonic fracture, separating the Highlands into the Northwest Highlands and the Grampian Mountains. Ben Nevis and Ben Mcdhui, the highest mountains of the United Kingdom, are located in the Grampian Mountains and a large number of Lochs (the Scottish word for lake) such as Loch Lomond or Loch Ness provide the varied landscape. Due to the ‘Highland Clearances’ around the 19th century, the Highlands only have a small population, but a high number of wild animals.
Scottish hunting tradition
There is a long tradition of hunting game in Scotland and it has not changed for centuries and continues to this day. Fairness towards the wild game has priority in every situation. There is a high standard of hunting, because there are strict laws on entering the territory in the Highlands. Whether on ‘Deer Stalking’, ‘Driven Shooting’ or ‘Walked up Shooting’, a good atmosphere is always vital. The hunts are extremely challenging and sporty. All hoofed game is hunted by stalking and there are only very few high seats in the region. The commonly bad weather conditions and the hilly and muddy ground make the hunts more demanding. Only some areas can be accessed by ATV. The local hunting guides, called “stalkers”, accompany hunting tourists. The stalkers know particular districts like the back of their own hand.
Scotland has a major deer population that is spread across the country. The Highlands represent the perfect setting for deer stalking in Scotland, because of its variety of different terrain types. One of the most popular hunting styles of Scotland is ‘Red Deer Stalking’. It also counts as one of the most interesting stag hunts in the world. The Red Deer is the largest mammal within Great Britain. It has no natural predators so the population has to be regulated to self-sustainable levels. The game of the Red Deer is between 80 and 100 kilograms. Red Deer Stalking can be very exhausting. The hunters need cover about 30 kilometres. The hunting season for Red Deer Stag is between July 1 and October 20.
Roe Deer Stalking used to be an insider’s tip, but today it is well known that the Highlands are an outstanding place for Roe Deer Stalking. The animal prefers more sheltered woodlands of the lower ground. This kind of stalking exclusively takes place during morning and evening hours. It can be very challenging, because it often takes some time to find the prey. The stag hunting season already starts at the beginning of April and ends at a similar time as the Red Deer hunting season on October 20.
Sika and Fallow Deer
Sika and Fallow Deer live in wooded regions, which include the valleys in the central and eastern parts of the Highlands. This stalking is less demanding than other kinds, but it is still a great adventure. The hunting season for Sika Deer is from the start of July to October 20 (Sika does October 20 to February 15) and for the Fallow Deer it starts at August first and ends April 30 (Fallow does October 20 to February 25)
The wild goat is an exotic animal along the Scottish runway. The domestic animals were held as provision on board of ships. As some ships wrecked on the Scottish coast, Wild Goats spread over parts of the Highlands. They prefer mountainous areas, which makes the stalking very exciting. Hunting focuses on the billy goat is and there is no closed hunting season. But one should be warned of the smell of a Wild Goat in rut, it is horrible.
Scotland is a paradise for small game, especially for winged game. This is due to the favourable location of the habitats. There are organised driven hunts and also walked up hunts. One can hunt grouse, English pheasant, dug, goose, snipes, French partridge, hare and so on. Most of the small game hunts take place between October and January. The most popular wing shooting is called the ‘Driven Grouse’. Upon season beginning on August 12, (‘The Glorious Twelfth’) the international hunting high society gathers in the Highlands to participate in this social event. A Scottish delicacy is also the driven northern hare. Falconry is also a common way to hunt hare in the Highlands.
Hunting in the Scottish Highlands is ideal for hunters who are looking for new, exciting challenges within one of the most beautiful nature settings in the world. The sportive hunt is a once in lifetime adventure.