Getting a Beast off the Hill – Stalking at Glen Shiel
When it comes to red deer stalking on traditional deer forests, the method of transportation used to extract your quarry off the hill can depend on a number of things. The geography and topography of the area are probably the most determining factor but it might also be down to how traditional the management style of an estate is or possibly whether your host wants to help you out with your waistline management!
At Glen Shiel, (www.glenshielestate.com), they are blessed, (or not depending on your fitness levels), with very steep terrain and a high concentration of Munros and Corbetts. As a result (and in particular during the stag season when the deer are high up) they have little choice other than to use manpower and then horse (pony) power. Due to many areas being inaccessible due to modern modes of transport, their only option is to drag the beast to a spot where the stalking ponies can be loaded. This is the traditional way and many guests choose Glen Shiel for this experience….indeed some insist on it. When a pony has been loaded with the stag and is picking its way down the hill being led by the pony boy it could be a picture from 100 years ago….little has changed.
In the winter months during the hind season, when the deer are lower down and they might be extracting more than one beast at a time they tend to use a mixture of manpower dragging the hinds to either a 4-wheel motorbike or an argocat. The Argocat can get into more difficult areas including across rivers and small lochs. There are of course many other means used on other estates. In some instances deer may have to be dragged to the shore (sea or loch) and are then be loaded onto a boat. Various neighbours of Glen Shiel have been known to use a helicopter to transport deer off the hill. Whilst “aero-extraction” may have a place in some parts Glen Shiel feel that the traditions are all part of the stalking experience whether that be the stalking pony, the blooding for a first kill or the dram with the stalker in the larder afterwards!