The Stalking Season is on us.

Monday morning lying in bed, wind and rain battering off the Velux windows, there was absolutely no enthusiasm to get out looking for our cull stags. We introduced Red deer onto Rona in 2003 as part of the forest ecology, they are of course a forest animal as opposed to the perception they are ‘hill’ animals, but that discussion is for another day. So we do now have quite a population and as part of the management we cull a certain number each year and this is the time. They are at their best and for the better of the Rona herd we need to reach that number. They are also an important sustainable part of our economy plus the fact they are fantastic to see roaming wild all over Rona.

BUT, Monday was not a good day. Our visitors were out for a walk though.

Catherine and Douglas Through the Window

Although it was pretty windy and very heavy rain I don’t think it was as strong as Sunday and around mid afternoon a yacht arrived from Plockton. They reported a fast wet sail up the Inner Sound. It was a very dreich day.

A Wet arrival

Tuesday was a wee bit better but I was still dragging my feet, L kicked me out of the bed and ‘gave me encouragement’ to go stalking. I lacked enthusiasm, but once I got the tweeds on and headed out the morning was quite pleasant and it was good to get away. I found a small herd of hinds and watched them for a while interacting and feeding away. No stags though. I was just getting ready for home at An Tempuil, right at the South end when I spied a stag heading over the hill away to the West, I set of looking for him and eventually after a tense stalk was able to cull the stag. He was a beauty and although sad to see such a magnificent beast lying there I was pleased because he had quite a dangerous set of antlers and would probably of been responsible for many a wounded opponent in the rut when they start fighting. His antlers were like daggers. Anyway the fun then began, as this stag later weighed out at 320lbs,  goodness knows how I single handedly got him home but it was quite a trial.

A Massive Stag

It is a credit to the feeding and the numbers that we have here that this  stag was in such good condition. L was summoned to help and with the JCB we were able to deal with it.

The Latest Technology for Lifting

At the first attempt the pulley exploded but we took a chance on the fitting that was left on the ceiling and managed, L was trapped in the chill but I got her out.

L Weighing The Stag up.

Looks like our guests are going away tomorrow so Saturday looks like a very long day butchering. All the deer culled on Rona are processed here and the end product is very popular, especially with our (carnivorous) cottage guests, they are always keen to see the deer but are happy to learn about our deer management on the Island.

Wednesday was another good day and a general tidy up day. Lots of small jobs but the highlight of the day was a wildlife trip out on the boat with Steve and Donna from the Escape cottage, we were lifting the lobster pots (mostly empty apart from soft shell crabs) when the Sea Eagle surprised us, and itself, by flying onto us over the cliffs at Dhu Chamas. Two seconds later another one was flying above us, what a sight. We set off into Kyle Rona and spotted the Sea eagles above Garbh Eilean, the seagulls were feeding and one of the Eagles, the biggest one went right into them and picked up something, another one joined them and the ‘three’ Sea Eagles headed over to Eilean Tighe and landed right on top of the highest point.

Above our Heads

We fished for makerel for a while and then Steve took the helm as we shot over to our prawn creels.

Captain Steve

Needless to say the creels were empty, so we headed into Big Harbour to sort out the fish. We tied up and two minutes later Donna spotted a mink running about the pier. That is a bit too near L’s hens so out with the mink traps.

Protecting the Hens

Unfortunately the mink are proving to be survivors, hopefully they wont acquire a taste for the hens. I set the traps and time was getting on, 7.00pm. I’d left the sheep in the small park and was going to take the lambs off the ewes and the Tup away. With the forecast for to-day looking grim I had to get it out of the way so at 7.30pm we started working on the sheep.

Just about there

At 9 o’clock I had a very large whisky.

As promised this morning (Thursday) was foul, only fit for paperwork. On venturing out I found two mink traps disturbed but no mink. The stags antlers are proving popular with our guests so I cleaned them up as best I could and left them on the roof of the garage for the weather to do the rest.


Saturday is looking poor so changeover tomorrow a day early and L is away so a busy time ahead.

About Bill Cowie

I've been living on the island since April 2002, alone for the first 5 years, my partner L joined me in 2007. We manage the Island for a Danish family who bought the Island in the early 90's. Their hopes for the Island are to make it self sufficient supporting its inhabitants and that is where we come in. We look after the stock, 3 holiday cottages, machinery, boat and of course the visitors. It is pretty challenging but it is a beautiful place to live and work, we love it and strangely enough we love it even more in the depths of winter when all is quiet apart from the gales and rain. We do a bit of fishing, stock work, stalking deer and loads of other stuff. We have good support from lots of people whom we have met over the years and have become involved in the Island. Too many to mention here but keep an eye on the blog, they'll be there for sure in the future.
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