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What will the Scottish stalking season be like this year?

The red deer season is due to start 1 July.

Scottish stalking
Usually at this time of year everyone involved in deer stalking in Scotland – ghillies, agents and guides – would be gearing up for the season ahead. However, thanks to the COVID-19 crisis, recreational stalking and sporting tourism have been hit hard.
Scottish National Heritage (SNH) has ruled: “… Unaccompanied stalking (or only in the presence of people from the same household) for recreation can restart as of Friday 29th May 2020. People are only permitted to travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise and are advised to stay within a short distance of their local community (broadly within 5 miles).”
So now only very local people or those employed to manage deer will be able to go stalking. Visitors to Scotland won’t be able to stalk with a ghillie or a guide.
Shooting Times contributor and Scottish land manager and stalker Megan Rowland warned: “With nearly all of our clients coming from outside the UK, travel restrictions will hinder clients coming here – if indeed restrictions do lift at all this year. No one will come for a week of stalking if they have to isolate for 14 days after coming into the country!”

Scottish stalking warnings

A spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association’s Deer Group responded to Shooting UK:  “At present the biggest sticking point is travel and people being able to stay in accommodation in remote places. We are some way away from this at present, which makes planning extremely difficult. Until the Government decides these things are safe, and will not place communities at risk, then businesses offering recreational stalking face great uncertainty.”

Lianne MacLennan, of Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups, said: “A lot of bookings have not happened or have been delayed or put back to next year.”

Written off

Megan Rowland continued: In terms of a client-based season we, and many other estates in Scotland, have written it off. Accepting that we’ll have to cull a number of deer ourselves instead.”

A survey undertaken last month by the Association of Deer Management Groups (ADMG), Lowland Deer Network Scotland (LDNS) and the Scottish Venison Association (SVA) found that if there is no let stalking this year for stags, hinds, roe bucks or roe does then the 103 respondent businesses will lose over £2,500,000.