One of the projects I had my eye on since moving to Scotland was photographing and filming the red deer which are all over the highlands. I’ve heard from various sources that they are common throughout the highlands and so I was optimistic! In week two, I went out in search of them and spotted a doe and a youngster but nothing else. I was not perturbed!
Week four, and I went out again in search of red deer. I drove west towards Ullapool as people had told me that I was guaranteed to see them. six hours… six hours I drove around the area, stopping, searching, seeing nothing and going on. Alright, so now I was starting to think that I was just cursed to never see these deer…
I was getting frustrated now. Everyone else in all their forums was showing the amazing rutting behaviours in the London parks and I had seen exactly zero stags.
Scotland has mixed feelings about the red deer. They are native and stunningly beautiful animals. However, estates have introduced more deer in order to create hunting stock and these populations have expanded rapidly. The deer in turn eat all the fresh shoots and new growth which has had a profound effect on the rewildling efforts of conservationists.
Last week I ran a holiday camp with Wild Things and one of the attendees was a young girl who’s dad was a gamekeeper. He gave me a tip off of a location in the cairngorms where I was guaranteed to see the red deer at last. I was sceptical but I packed my truck and headed to the highlands once more.
This time I was in luck and I saw a small herd on a ridge line above me. I started my hike and tried to come around them from above. However, once I’d made it to the top, I saw that the herd was in fact VAST! Easily 100 does and about 10-15 roaring stags. Finally I had an opportunity to see one of our last megafauna in action! I got on my belt buckle and started filming!
Here’s the result of my efforts: https://youtu.be/8lHcxFKXFyg