View Full Version : Roe Stalking in Scotland
November 11, 2001, 04:49 AM
Threads I have going elsewhere hopefully paint a picture of life with firearms in the UK. In general, response Stateside has been horror.
However, as in all things, there are positives.
In the UK we can shoot deer on everyday of the year - should we wish. The limits are self imposed by good management practises and your available cash. If you can afford it, you could book stalking 365 days per year ( Christmas could be difficult ).
I am tendering for 4500 acres of forestry/ open hill gound. There are six of us in the syndicate. Forest Enterprise have stipulated minimum cull requirements - to fit their area plan etc. These are 36 Roe and 20 Red - per year.
Stalking can be a once a year special trip, but the true addicts may be going out twice a month across the year - or if they have their own ground to manage, several times a week or even daily at times.
Often there is a mixture of the two.
I propose to describe an annual trip that I make with my buddy ( getting into US speak! ) Bob. I am lucky to have a cottage up in Morayshire - actually near a small village called Dallas - VERY different from your version in Texas! Each year we go out for two days to take Roe Does - as part of the management plan for that ground.
The shooting rights are owned by a professional stalker and we pay a daily rate to go out. With bookings down and vairiable weather, this is often an exercise to cull as many beasts as possible in order to achieve the targets for good husbandry of the deer population. The cost varies - a. on the mood of the stalker! b. whether we go out alone or accompanied by a stalker/ ghillie and c. whether we wish to purchase any of the beasts shot.
Roe open seasons are -
Bucks - 1st April to 20th October
Does - 21st October - 31st March
So in theory can be shot year round. In reality, the area weather pattern and habits of the deer dictate suitable days. Often, most people will wait at least one month into the season. In the case of Bucks, you are working hard to effectively stalk them after the August Rut.
November 11, 2001, 06:09 PM
"The cost varies - a. on the mood of the stalker! b. whether we go out alone or accompanied by a stalker/ ghillie and c. whether we wish to purchase any of the beasts shot. "
Does the landowner own the animal? How much would it cost to keep it?
November 11, 2001, 09:24 PM
What are the typical costs to a hunter for a day's hunt, guided and unguided?
Dunno if you use acres or hectares (one hectare = 2.5 acres), but anyway, what sort of population density do you have?
How large is the area which is commonly hunted?
I live in a desert area in southwest Texas. The population density of mule deer in this area (and realize we're in a long-term drouth) is roughly one deer for some 250 acres (100 hectares). Contrariwise, in central Texas, there are areas where it seems like more than one deer per acre! (They're regarded by many as rats with hooves.)
November 12, 2001, 03:53 AM
Costs really do vary enormously. Stalking is perceived as an upper class/ rich sport - but as in all things, those interested will find a way.
There are six species available in the UK, but I'll keep this to Red and Roe.
I expect to pay about £75 ( per person ) for each of the two days - if accompanied. If we go solo - the price drops circa £30. It is great to go solo - and something that is earned over here. However, I am always learning and £30 is cheap education. To go out with a professional Highland stalker is to learn.
Cheaper stalking is available and more expensive. The cheapest, reasonable stalking I have seen was £250 for five days. Other Estates can charge that for the day.
Red deer - the classic Scottish stalk - varies as well. Stags command the higher price. Schemes vary, some places charge a basic fee plus a charge for each animal plus a trophy fee, others charge purely for what you shoot. On average a Stag will cost you between £350 and £1500.
Hinds are cheaper, but as the Estates have to contend with cull targets in poor weather, guest stalkers can be more of a burden than help. I go out regularly each winter and pay £100 for a day - split between two of us - ie £50 each. Taking beasts as directed - no further cost. Some days it will be one animal, others four or five.
All venison is the property of the estate. Sometimes one beast is included in the price, mostly you can buy the animal at cost. Prices fluctuate, but the present market is flat. Previous average pricing was 50 pence per pound Red and 90 pence Roe.
Density - again varies. Richard Prior quotes -
Thin Woodland/ disturbed - 1 roe : 25 Acres
Good Woodland - 1 roe: 10 Acres
Ideal/ Healthy - 1 roe: 5 acres.
Land area varies. THe Roe shoot I will describe in coming weeks is over 4500 acres of commercial forestry - Larch, Lodgepole and Scots Pine about twenty years old, bordered by open hill & moor. In January I will go out on Red Hinds on circa 26,000 acres on the North of the Isle of Arran.
The other way to obtain stalking is to take a lease direct. Here parcels vary from circa 500 acres up to thousands. These leases usually specify cull levels and the leaseholder owns the venison - so overall price tends to be lower.
November 12, 2001, 08:43 AM
ROE SHOOT PART TWO
Decided to take along Tikka 695 in 6.5x55. Topped with Tikka Mounts ( Sako Opti-lock ) and a Schimdt & Bender 6x42.
Want to see how a factory load performs - PMC Silver Line, loaded with 140grn GameKing. Groups circa 3/4" and zeroed to go 1 1/2" high at 100yds.
Will take along usual load as back-up - 129grn Hornady reload using R19 - shoots to same point of aim.
Zeroed rifle at the weekend and checked a batch of the reloads.
Thoroughly cleaned the rifle and scope, it will get another three shot sighting session once we arrive at the cottage, but will only get a patch through in the evening on each days shooting.
Binoculars are Eschenbach 7x42 - again checked and cleaned.
Knives ( three ) sharpened and stored.
Ventile jacket washed and reproofed. Advantage suit and Snow Camo unpacked to hung up to air.
Boots treated with Neet Foot Oil and laces replaced.
Bits and bobs packed in my day pack - will be rechecked a dozen times before we go.
November 12, 2001, 10:08 AM
Hmmm. Prices sound reasonable.
Texas is mostly private-land leasing, commonly by a group of friends. Pricing for a season can run in the $5/acre range, depending on size. Some of the larger ranches charge "per gun", at maybe $1,500 and up for the season. This commonly includes bird hunting and pond-fishing as well as the deer and javelina. And, if you see a mountain lion, well, we have too many of them for the habitat.
(Quail alert. I have a covey of blues running back and forth on my porch, waiting for the clock feeder to spray out grain.)
As a rule in the U.S., the animal belongs to the shooter, horns, hide, meat and all.
November 12, 2001, 11:19 AM
I was unable to take up an offer of Red Stag stalking on the Sannox Estate, Arran recently.
The week was taken by a guy from Waco - Floyd Hightower. We have spoken briefly by phone and a little on E mail.
I think he is a fairly active shooter over there - so may be known to some of you - he'll be able to give a first hand account etc.
What are the open seasons like for you?
November 12, 2001, 04:37 PM
In Texas, whitetail deer season runs from November 3rd through New Year's weekend. (There are some variations in some counties, but that's the main time frame.)
In the Panhandle of Texas, mule deer season runs Nov. 17th-Dec 2nd; in southwestern Texas, Nov 24th-Dec 9th.
They also have reserved periods for archery-only, or youth-only...You really need a program to keep track.
On national public lands in western states, it's state-controlled as to season and licenses, but anybody with a license can pretty much hunt anywhere he likes for mule deer and elk.
November 15, 2001, 05:06 PM
In Illinois (that would be the midwestern U.S., flat prairies and farm country) the key is to know a farmer and treat him right. Businessmen from Chicago can and will pay so much for a weekend's hunting first season that I couldn't compete--but they don't fix fences, report straying cattle, come back for turkey, etc. We do, so we hunt free. Deer and turkey are practically varmints in Illinois. If it weren't for the law, the landowner would like to have each of us (four hunters) take 3-5 turkeys apiece. Of course, that would depend on your ability to get one or more turkeys in the first place.
November 16, 2001, 03:35 AM
With it becoming mandatory to be a deer stalker to possess expanding ammo, many more people have sought to obtain stalking - apparently on a purely 'must have expanding ammo' basis.
Many professional stalkers recognise these types and they don't get accepted a second time.
Consequently we have a lot of people with money looking to buy shooting rights. We call them Deer Shooters. Cash strapped land owners who are not really interested in animal welfare understably go for the highest bidder. This pushes prices up all over and squeezes out locals and many of those genuinely interested.
What then happens is that the shooters come up for a couple of days/ weeks in the year, shoot everything they can and depart. Once they stop seeing stuff, they buy another piece of ground.
With Roe deer for instance, unless the age range is carefully managed, an absence of mature bucks actually causes more juveniles to come in - which are the prime culprits in damaging trees.
Landowners are learning - but slowly.
Organisations like Forest Enterprise are putting in a points system for applicants for leases. They still charge high, but put a greater weight upon candidates proving they are Deer Managers first and foremost.
Unsurprisingly, the usual result of the sporting tenant appearing once in a blue moon and living hundreds of miles away is a free-for-all by the poachers.
November 24, 2001, 12:55 PM
Been a heavy week at work - and ( thankfully ) on the stalking front.
Will depart with Bob this coming Wednesday, about a three hour drive North to the cottage.
We have been going there for close on five years and for this annual event have never yet made it in day light. Everything fully planned this time round - when I get news this morning of an unavoidable business meeting - will run into the afternoon. Will be dark again.
Why does that matter?
Despite carefully zeroing, we always try to check zero on arrival - it is amazing the number of times that otherwise dependable kit will mysteriously drift ( once on a live target is too often ). Hence every year we trog up the small hill behind the house to check zero - by lamp light!
Still not too bad?
I haven't mentioned the other tradition - as soon as we set foot out the door an otherwise clear sky clouds and the rain starts - every time - apart from when it snows or hails.
I will readily accept any comment to the effect that having zeroed within the last few days our recheck may not be essential and the drenching may do more harm than good. HEY ... this is a hunt we are talking about, what would it be without traditions!
It a little like honouring the blitz spirit. We sit there in the dark, in the rain, in the middle of a forest - Bob always has a mug of tea to hand. The shooter takes position and says lamp on. The other hits the switch on a half mil CP hand lamp, the shot is fired and it is switched off. So it goes for three shots each.
We are on the flight path to RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Kinloss. Nimrod flights ( I swear! ) used to divert over us to work out what the heck was going on!
I have factory PMC with 140 grain Gamekings to hand, but will first try my 129 grain reloads. Strangely they shoot to same point of aim and long range shots where the trajectory difference would matter are not on the cards. I have loaded 25 to take, randomly selected 5 this morning and test fired for group and velocity. Four rounds honestly formed a slightly elongated hole and the fifth was called half an inch left. Totally unneccessary accuracy for the job in hand - but a great confidence builder.
Rifle, scope, binoculars, spotting scope etc etc fully cleaned and protected. Clothing laid out to air.
My mind is not going to be on work Monday to Wednesday!
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