After the last ice age 10-12000 years ago Red deer and Roe deer remained in Scotland. Evidence of their presence is shown by the antler tools found in the early settlements. Today there is a wild population of around 325,000 red deer on the mountains of Scotland. All land in Scotland is owned by some one so one has to buy from the owner the right to stalk deer or shoot all game species. Each year a cull of deer is carried out to keep the population stable. Commercial stalking of red deer is normally carried out between August and the end of the season on the 20th October, as the stags have hard antlers at this time of year. On the hill you will spy the deer at some distance and the skill of the Deerstalker will present the animal to you at around 150 yards. As hills are so open in many cases part of the stalk will involve crawling so the deer do not see you. In the tradition of the Highland Deerstalker he will carry the rifle in a soft canvas case and will hand the rifle to the guest when the firing point has been reached. The deer is taken off the hill by a Highland Garron pony or a hill vehicle. The venison is sold by the estate, the guest receives the antlers as a trophy. The hinds are culled between the 21st of October and the 14th of February.
Japanese Sika deer were introduced in the mid 19th century and kept in private deer parks but many escaped and are now wide spread in some areas.
Roe deer are very shy animals and live in woodland and around good farm land. Stalking is carried out early morning or late in the evening. The season is from April to end of October.
There are a number of wild Fallow deer initially introduced to Britain from the western Mediterranean by the Romans. These became extinct after the Romans left and it was during the 11th century that they were re-introduced this time from the eastern Mediterranean.
Grouse shooting is a major part of the economy in many parts of Scotland. All grouse are wild so they are very dependant on good weather for the hatch end of may – June. Each year strips of heather are burnt, during the winter early spring. This creates a chequerboard of different ages of heather for the grouse ,deer, and sheep to feed upon. The grouse eat the young growth during the summer and the seeds from the blooming heather in the winter time. The ” Glorious Twelfth ” 12th August is the opening day of the season which ends on the10th December. The grouse are shot by parties in several different ways, driven over butts, walked up, over pointers or in some cases using falcons. As with venison all game birds, hares and rabbits can be sold.
In the autumn pheasant and partridge shooting is carried out on many estates. The majority of these birds are reared and put to cover two to three months before the shooting commences. In many cases these are formal driven days. The seasons for the following are; Partridge 1st September to1st February. Wild Duck 1st September to1st February. Pheasants 1st October to1st February.