Red Deer and Roe Deer – Where to See Them at Loch Ness

Red Deer and Roe Deer – Where to See Them at Loch Ness

Conquering the Highlands in Search of Majestic Deer

As I trudged up the steep, unforgiving slopes of the Scottish Highlands, I couldn’t help but wonder what I had gotten myself into. The rain pelted my face, and with each step, my legs felt heavier and my lungs burned. But through the mist and the fatigue, I was determined to catch a glimpse of the elusive red deer and roe deer that called this rugged landscape home.

It all started a few months earlier, when my friend Tim Fallon and I met with Patty Curnutte, a seasoned hunting guide with The Global Sportsman. Patty introduced us to Stefan Bengtssen, the owner of Scandinavian ProHunters, and before long, we had booked a hunting expedition in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.

The Lure of the Highlands

As we made our way to our home base, Leys Castle, a gorgeous 19th-century estate, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the raw beauty of the surroundings. Loch Ness, the legendary home of the mythical Loch Ness Monster, stretched out before us, its dark waters reflecting the towering mountains that seemed to reach up and touch the clouds.

Stefan informed us that our hunt would take us to a vast estate about 30 miles from the castle, where we would be stalking red stags. “The stags will be near the top of the ridges and mountains,” he warned, “and the stalk could be long and mostly uphill.”

Little did I know just how accurate his prediction would be.

The Arduous Climb

As the sun peeked over the horizon, Tim, Stefan, and I set out on our hunt. We started by scanning the lower slopes, spotting a herd of red deer, but it was the group of stags near the crest of the ridge that caught our eye.

“The roar is still about a month away,” Stefan explained, “and the sexes stay separate until it starts. Let’s see if we can find some more stags closer to the road before we go after this mob.”

But our search proved fruitless, and so we began our ascent, wading across a river and then pushing steadily uphill. The climb was arduous, with us stopping frequently to catch our breath and wait out the rain squalls that seemed to materialize out of nowhere.

Red deer and roe deer are indeed the native species to this part of Scotland, and as we ascended, I couldn’t help but feel a growing sense of anticipation. Would we finally spot these majestic creatures?

The Patience of the Hunt

After what felt like an eternity, we finally reached the top of the ridge, where our stalker signaled us to crawl forward. As we wormed our way to the edge, the sight that greeted us was truly breathtaking. Below us, a herd of around 20 red stags lay bedded, their reddish-brown coats blending seamlessly with the rugged terrain.

But just as we were about to start glassing them, the fog rolled in, obscuring our view. For the next 40 minutes, we lay there, beset by midges and squinting through the swirling mist, waiting for the stags to rise.

Finally, the moment came. I quickly found my target, a magnificent nine-year-old stag, and took a deep breath, adjusting for the wind. As I gently squeezed the trigger, the stag dropped, and I knew I had made a clean shot.

The Thrill of the Hunt

As Tim and I made our way down to inspect our quarry, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. These were not the massive, trophy-sized stags I had taken in other countries, but they were no less impressive. Their reddish hues and more delicate antlers were a testament to the unique character of the Scottish Highlands.

That night, as we shared a “wee dram” of single malt whisky in the grand halls of Leys Castle, I couldn’t help but reflect on the adventure we had just experienced. The arduous climb, the patience required, and the thrill of the hunt had all come together to create a truly memorable experience.

And as I gazed out across the dark waters of Loch Ness, I couldn’t help but wonder what other wonders the Scottish Highlands had in store. One thing was certain: I would be back, ready to explore this magical land and its captivating wildlife.

So, if you find yourself drawn to the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands and the promise of encountering red deer and roe deer, don’t hesitate to plan your visit to Loch Ness. Who knows what adventure awaits you?

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