Early dawn on a spring morning in May, around 4.00am, and we are out in the fields and forests looking at the roe deer. The sky is pale, the air is fresh, no one else is there, no cars or tractors interrupt the silence … and we have an extraordinary and exhilarating sense of having the world to ourselves.
The woods and forests are alive with birdsong and animal activity is at its peak. Roe deer come and go from the shadows, unaware and almost uncaring about any danger as they feel this time of day is still theirs and they have little to fear. Fox cubs can be observed playing outside their dens, badgers forage along hedgerows and woodpeckers can be heard burrring away in the trees.
📷 Visit Scotland
These are uniquely special, precious and magical times shared by all deer stalkers. Our day is about to begin as we scan the landscape for signs of movement, looking for roe deer on the move, the bob of a white tail, a grazing group or perhaps a pair careering round the fields as a mature buck chases a young one from its territory. We are looking for deer to select on the basis of maturity in terms of their body shape and size for venison, or their antler quality in terms of volume and height, or those that are in a poorer state of health or may struggle to find food and are suitable for culling.
We try to get as close as we can, using the wind and contours of the land to remain hidden and not disturb the animals. Being so close we can observe the deer in detail, the way they move, their interactions with each other, their constant alertness and sensitivity, and pause to consider the job we have to do. Respect for the animal is utterly paramount and our absolute priority is to ensure that our shot will be clean and humane.
And so the outing is complete and we return home to catch a couple of hours sleep. There is a sense of peace and achievement, knowing that we have played a part in the necessary control of the deer population, in turn providing fresh wild venison for people to enjoy and for ourselves, the most wonderful experience in nature.