The one theme common to nearly all forests throughout Scotland was a late rut. On many estates, the first roars were not heard until the last week of September and in some instances the rut was brief and subdued. There were also reports of stags remaining together in groups and taking little interest in hinds until the end of October or into November. Weather conditions may have had some part to play in this tardy rut. It is impossible to generalise, but for many forests the weather was mild in the early part of the season, with prolonged periods of mist causing days to be lost. In addition, cold easterly or south-easterly winds caused problems on many forests.
On the whole, the condition of deer was described as good to very good, though a few estates noted that weights were down compared to the previous season. The late, cold spring doubtless affected many deer, and though fat was put on during the warm summer, the deer had not gained the weight normally expected. Several forests reported far fewer deer than seen in the previous two or three seasons.
There were reports from only two forests of disturbance to stalking from hillwalkers – a considerable reduction on previous years, and perhaps a sign walkers are beginning to co-operate and understand the need to manage red deer.
Summing up, the 2013 red deerstalking season in Scotland, passed without notable incident, other than the lateness of the rut. The condition of the deer remains satisfactory on most forests and reflects well on the overall standard of management by professional stalkers throughout the regions.
See the Scottish Stag Review table below, or click here to open a larger version in a new window.