Stags on the Move

Been a week or more since the last post but it’s not because I can’t be bothered it’s just because every day flies by. A week ago we got our new windows.

The Hens Inspect the Windows

L was sorting out the cottages for the guests and grabbing a few hours at the polytunnel.

Dill Flower

We’ve enjoyed the produce from the polytunnel and there are lots more, looking forward to the pumpkins!!

The Saturday guests arrived and were happy to have Dry Harbour for one night to themselves, they were looking forward to seeing the stags in the rut but were aware stalkers were arriving in the morning.

Firing the test shot

5 Danish guys arrived Sunday morning, they had booked a week to go stalking on Rona for the first time. Sure we’ve culled deer here for quite a few years but as part of the deer management plan and to create a sustainable food source and income we offered a weeks stalking and these guys were happy to travel here to help.  We introduced the Red Deer to Rona in 2003, but there was a red deer or two here and there are many 1 km across Kyle Rona on Raasay. We’ve seen them swimming to Rona so the population can expand pretty quickly. However I spend quite a bit of time counting and watching deer so ‘hopefully’ our 15 male deer cull figure this year  is just about right. This week it was 4 to 6 stags but first the guests had to test our rifles, Wayne the stalker took them through their drill, all passed the test.

That night we headed up North and found a stag with hinds at the North end, on the way up we spotted two Sea Eagles bombing a gannet but lucky for the gannet it got away. Peter number 2 and Per went with Wayne and had a successful stalk so it was up to us in the boat to collect it.

Collecting The Stalkers and the Stag

Quite an interesting pick up, but a good lesson for the future. On the way back we bumped into the Basking Shark that Mark and Nicola had been watching at Dry Harbour a week ago. So all in all a good start.

Monday was a very long day, two stalkers went with Wayne South we went North, a long day with two aborted stalks then at the last light we found a small group of stags and after a long stalk in managed to get one. Too late and too dark for pics’ but a very good day. The other guys saw lots but nothing that was on the cull list, so a blank day for them.

Tuesday morning the serious stuff started. It is always good to get ahead of the cull and we managed to stalk one of our mature stags, that was the easy bit. The work really starts when the stalk is over and we had managed to get quite far out into the most inaccessible part of Rona. With much pulling, hauling and swearing we managed to get the stag back to the larder and dressed out. It weighed in at 290lbs, a very, very good stag.

Now The Hard Work Starts

Wednesday was much the same lots of walking and stalking. We got close to a young stag but my guest declined to shoot, an hour later we had a call from Wayne to tell us he had managed to get his guest a good stag but in an out of the way place. Much the same as the 290lb stag and of course not easy. Needless to say we got it down to the path, or should I say Wayne and Peder got it down to the path then I took it home on the bike, getting stuck a few times.

The Traditional Way

Like the last big stag once we got it back to the larder the only way to weigh it and deal with a stag that size was to use the JCB!

The rest of the week went by in a blur, no more stags although there was plenty about and plenty roaring. If I haven’t lost you yet let me explain. The deer herd on Rona is very young, less than ten years old so mature shootable stags are not in abundance but we do not need too many old guys because they will spend too much of their time fighting and not ‘rutting’. Also with a 65% birth rate of males we have to reduce their numbers including young stags. The Island will support a lot more deer but hinds are much easier on  the Island than too many stags. The hinds are much more lighter on the ground than the stags and one stag goes a long way with a large number of hinds, in the future  add that to the swimmers from Raasay then we need to cull more stags AND young ones which may make very good trophy heads BUT we are not in the business of trophy shooting. We are trying to add to the bio diversity of the forest and to that aim we will shoot our cull figure every year and hope that the deer and the Island will benefit.

Ok enough of that!!

The next bit was much more interesting, what do we do when we shoot them? we can only butcher so many and some have to go away to the Game dealer/Tarradale Game, Muir of Ord. Easy to do on the mainland but Rona! Wayne is working outside Inverness on Moy Estate so he offered to deliver on his way home, Kevin and Pam couldn’t believe it.

Pam Sorting the Load

Pam could not get over the Ked Flies and the tick abandoning the carcase, the stags do host quite a population of insects. The big stags had to go down the gangway like an African Safari stretcher which was quite strange because when the first deer came they were drugged in Portree, ferried to the Island and stretchered on to Rona.

Total weight on the boat 420 kilos of venison.

I wrote this last night but the power failed just as I was finishing and since then it has been dealing with the inverters/generators and calls to the engineering support.

The Genny Shed With Too Many Flashing Lights

The stalking is now a distant memory, the stags are still about but not so noisy. I had intended to watch them this week but work has got in the way. It looks like our batteries that we charge up with the windmill might be dying plus electronic problems with the inverter look like it will be a busy winter sorting out the power requirements.

The weather has been pretty wet since the stalkers were here but we have also had sun too.

Rain Heading to Torridon

Been catching up on the summer house too and am just about there, the finishings are taking the longest though. BUT first of all it is a few days off tomorrow, we’re looking forward to it so if the genny and inverter don’t pack in I’ll get this uploaded and get off to my bed.

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.
This entry was posted in Daily Doings, The Views and of course the weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Stags on the Move

  1. Tony Bailey says:

    Hello Bill,
    I would be interested in some stalking on Rona if possible.
    I am an experienced stalkier holding a DSC LVL 2, BDS insurance etc.
    Could you please give me a call on 07500 638 209 of email me pleas.

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