Thu. Jul 7th, 2022

Field Sports Scotland

Hunting and Field Sports in Scotland


It’s the 27th of September, “It’s ALMOST OCTOBER” as one seasoned stalker said to me and in places there is little sign of a rut happening. Whats Going on ? Well I was out in the woods and hills in North Sutherland yesterday with guests and the wood I was in is usually a hive of activity at this time of year. the sound of the “Stags” roaring echoes through the glens and across the moors. hundred of beasts competing to be the loudest, the biggest and the best, BUT yesterday there was nothing. The day started out to some welcomed good news, the temperature was very low during the night at around 3°C and at first light it had only risen to 5°C showing a little sign of frost and there was a good wind. Once first light came it was a different story, although the temperature was still low, spying out over our hill and the neighbouring hill ground told me everything I needed to know about what our day was going to be like. Stags were still grouped up feeding? Spying around I can see groups of stags still feeding side by side with no interest on breaking up and groups of hinds on different feeding plots not even being bothered by the stags, granted there was a few early mature beasts hanging around the girls that tends to be normal behaviour for the older beasts preempting the rut, this is definitely not normal behaviour for this late in September. Is it going to be late again this year? For the last couple of years the ruts on all species have been a bit messed up, Roe being reported, in some areas by stalkers, of not happening at all, Sika not whistling , again in some areas and the Reds just not getting under way until October and like last year still roaring well after the season close in places. A lot of people are blaming climate change, accusing the wet Summers and warm Autumns for the change in beast behaviour, this could be the case. The change in the earths axis within the last 10 years has definitely changed a few things weather-wise in regions. Genuinely though, with the help of social media, reports of the rut being normal in some parts of the country has determined that these issues are solely regional and in some cases by not many miles apart, for example – South Sutherland and Inverness-shire have had some major signs that the rut is on, with Whistling Sika being reported now (and heard by my own ears on my own grounds near Inverness)   for the last couple of weeks and clear signs of some “Roaring” activity from the reds on the more southern Highland Estates. Scotland and the UK as a whole is one of the most bio-diverse regions on the planet, the weather and growth rate of plant life (feeding) can be very different even within a mile of each other which all affects the wildlife that need it to survive, there is no doubt – in some places – feeding for deer has came on a lot later due to wetter and warmer winters and late springs, this delaying good natural feeding for the stags. All of this affects the rut severely as the deer are not being able to get to a good condition before the next rut. I know a lot of stalkers will be worried about it all, as every year the rut is the most important time for their calender’s. Many of them adjusting their life/work schedules to suit but I think that is the habit of the stalker not so much the habit of the deer. We can spend our lives in dilemma on what is happening or we can just go with the flow and change our scheduling but there is one thing for sure and that is things are changing and it may take another couple of years to settle down, Unfortunately though I don’t believe that  SNH and the othe bodies will push for a change in season dates to suit what is actually happening.   By David Tulloch Pic. Alan C.