Stalking a majestic red stag in the Scottish Highlands and islands is the stuff of sporting dreams. Shooting Times cherry-picks some of the best locations

Stalking red stags in Scotland is a bucket-list experience for most stalkers. One of the country’s most majestic animals, the red deer is Scotland’s largest native land mammal and one of its most sought-after sporting trophies. The majority are found in the Scottish Highlands and islands, and there is a wide variety of stalking ground and accommodation options to choose from.

When it comes to choosing where to go, a lot will hang on your personal preference, budget, and level of experience. Do you want to test yourself on steep, rugged hillsides or would you prefer flatter, more sheltered terrain? Do you dream of a regal rack to mount above the fireplace, or would you be happier to take a less glamorous cull beast for the good of the herd?

Would you like to go as part of a large group and stay in a fully catered hunting lodge or a cosy self-catered cottage? Are you an experienced stalker or would you welcome more of a guiding hand?

How expensive is stalking red stags?

In terms of cost and budget, the biggest variable will be accommodation: a week in a Scottish baronial hunting lodge will naturally set you back more than a couple of nights in a concrete cottage. Most estates will have package deals for stalking trips, which are worth enquiring about. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter where you lay your head at night, as you’re likely to be exhausted, but it helps to have a roaring fire, hot bath and comfortable space to relive the day’s exertions over a dram.

Regarding the cost of the actual animal, expect to pay between £350-£550 (plus VAT ) on average per stag. Early season stags (July to August) can be cheaper, and those late summer beasts on the high tops represent a different sporting challenge to autumn animals during the rut. Some estates will also charge additional trophy fees for beasts with particularly impressive antlers. Blank days (when no suitable shot is presented) are also chargeable for a smaller fee in some cases, so it’s always worth checking.

If you want the stalker to boil up the head so that you can take your antlers with you, there will be another additional charge, and skinning/caping for grander taxidermy mounts will be more again. And of course, don’t forget tips for the stalker himself, any gillies, pony boys/girls, cooks and housekeepers, depending on where you are staying. As always, amounts are discretionary and you should give what you think reflects the efforts made on your behalf, which can be considerable.