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october 2016

SHOOTING SCOTLANDmagazine and FISHING

Game shooting in Glen Clova A great days shooting in the Angus Glen

Deer management in Scotland By Victor Clements

The Scottish Countryside Alliance Jamie Stewart on their work in Scotland

Fox control With Graeme Kelly

The economics of deerstalking By Niall Rowantree

Sea fishing on Loch Leven, Highlands By Linda Mellor

Topic Advice for making yourself visible in the event of needing to be rescued

How to catch a salmon With Tay Ghillie, Robert White

Habitat & species protection Helping the black grouse

Artworks Featuring dramatic works by Clare Shaw Plus

News s Viewpoint sScottish Gamekeepers Association sThe Falconer The Deerstalker s Gundogs sScottish Country Life Scottish Association for Country Sports sScottish Ladies Shooting Club Classic Gun sCooking with Game sThe Outdoor Look sWhat’s New


contents

october 2016

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editor's bit Looking ahead

Welcome to our second edition of Shooting Scotland Magazine, and of course Farming Scotland Magazine too. I have to say that I have been most encouraged by the support and goodwill that we have received from all over the country for this new venture of ours. Being a small family publishing business based in the heart of Scotland, this means a lot to us. In this, our second edition, we have expanded our editorial content and we are delighted to welcome ‘on board’ so many new names and organisations to our magazine whose contributions make this all possible. To everyone, I say thank you for your time, advise and support. My job now is to further establish and grow Shooting Scotland Magazine in style quality and article content. We want to give you all the very best ‘read’ we can, and I will welcome all ideas, just drop me an email or give me a call. Shooting Scotland Magazine will always promote Scottish rural life, its businesses and its communities. Shooting Scotland is your magazine, made in Scotland, for Scotland, and about Scotland. How’s that for a sales pitch? We are now well into planning for our three editions that we will publish during 2017, so till then, Christina, Trevor, Barry and I wish you all great shooting & fishing for the rest of the season.

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News

News from the country and a great prize to be won!

Game shooting in Glen Clova

By Linda Mellor

Viewpoint

Points of view by Niall Rowantree

12 Scottish Countryside Alliance

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A look at what the Alliance does for Scotland by James Stewart

15 The economics of deerstalking By Niall Rowantree

17 Scottish Gamekeepers Association What they are all about...an introductory column

19 The Falconer

With falconer Brian Brazendale

20 Topic

Sage advice on being visible in the event of an accident by Maureen Young

23 The Deerstalker Column by Brian Lile

24 Habitat & Species Protection

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Helping black grouse by Adam Smith

25 Gundogs

Preparing for a new puppy. Column by Stuart Dunn

27 Scottish Country Life With Linda Mellor

28 Deer management in Scotland By Victor Clements

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31 Scottish Association for country sports Column by Beth Johnston

32 The Scottish Ladies Shooting Club The girls are doing it for themselves!

35 Classic Gun

by Ross Haygarth

36 Fox control

With Graeme Kelly

38 Fishing on Loch Leven, Highlands By Linda Mellor

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41 The Ghillie

‘How to catch a salmon’, with Tay Ghillie Robert White

42 Artworks

Featuring the colourful and dramatic paintings of artist Clare Shaw

43 Cooking with Game With chef Mike Robinson

44 The Outdoor Look

Clothing and accessories for all seasons

48 What’s New?

New products to the market

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Slàinte, Athole. EDITOR & ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Athole Murray Fleming Tel. 01738 639747 E-mail: mail@farmingscotlandmagazine.com

PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Christina Fleming Email: christina@atholedesign.com

ADVERTISING MANAGER Barry Tweed Tel. 01738 550157 Email: barry@farmingscotlandmagazine.com

ADVERTISING MANAGER Trevor Knights Tel. 01738 447378 Email: trevor.knights@farmingscotlandmagazine.com

COPYRIGHT This publication has been produced and published by ATHOLE DESIGN & PUBLISHING LTD who are the copyright owners. No reproduction, copying, image scanning, storing or recording of any part of this publication without the permission of ATHOLE DESIGN & PUBLISHING LTD. Contents disclaimer: SHOOTING SCOTLAND MAGAZINE is not responsible for any factual inaccuracies within press information supplied to us. Any concerns regarding such matters should be directed to the supplier of the materials.

SHOOTING SCOTLAND MAGAZINE is designed, produced and published by Athole Design & Publishing Ltd., Tolastadh, 18 Corsie Drive, Kinnoull, Perth, Scotland PH2 7BU. Tel. 01738 639747

©ATHOLE DESIGN 2016


news Value of Scotland’s country sports endorsed by Rural Economy Cabinet Secretary Scotland’s estates are continuing to generate tourism, employment and economic benefits thanks to the popularity of world-class country sports. The value of shooting, stalking and fishing to Scotland’s rural communities was endorsed recently at the Highland Field Sports Fair by Fergus Ewing MSP, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity. With Scotland leading the way in field sports - drawing visitors to the country from the UK, Europe and further afield - recent research has placed the current value of this tourism

to Scotland at £155million per annum, estimated to rise to £185million by 2020. Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Our tourism sector is a vital strand of the rural economy and country sports represent a significant proportion of this. Field sports are a huge draw, with both domestic and foreign audiences enjoying the wealth of world-class opportunities available in Scotland. And forecasts suggest this area is set to continue to grow over the coming years, which will bring further gains to rural communities in terms of employment and economic benefits.”

Gamekeeping – new recruits in high demand Interest in gamekeeping as a vocation is flying high according to Scotland’s leading rural colleges. According to reports from lecturers at North Highland College (UHI), SRUC Elmwood Campus (Cupar) and Borders College, gamekeeping and wildlife management courses are experiencing strong demand from sporting estates, grouse in particular, for recently qualified gamekeepers and modern apprenticeships. David Olds, lecturer from North Highland College, said: “Scotland’s rural industry is ever changing and to keep abreast of new legislation, conservation measures as well as best practice out on the 4

moors, combining tutor-led learning with extensive practical placements is paramount. Our modern apprenticeship course is a great springboard for those keen to get into the industry, offering a combination of workbased and college training whilst providing the dual benefit of students gaining a nationally recognised qualification and work experience during placements on an estate. The grouse industry is vitally important to rural Scotland in terms of both social and economic contributions. Grouse shooting plays a major part in the £200 million that is generated for the economy by shooting and stalking every year.


news Perthshire deerstalker lands Scottish Education Award

Scone Palace Estate presented with Wildlife Estates Scotland accreditation

Scone Palace Estate has been presented with a prestigious Wildlife and Game accreditation from Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES). A certificate was presented to John Greenshield of Scone Palace, alongside Lord Mansfield by Fergus Ewing, MSP and Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, in the Scottish Land and Estates stand. This was awarded after a recent visit by Acoura judges scored the Perthshire Estate highly in all aspects of land management.

The accreditation from WES demonstrates Scone Palace Estate’s commitment to best practices, maintaining species through conservation and collaborative work whilst integrating other land management activities, such as forestry and tourism. To celebrate, all visitors are being offered the opportunity to upgrade their Palace and Grounds Entrance Ticket to a Season Ticket at no extra charge, meaning visitors can enjoy unlimited access until the end of the season, on October 31st.

A man whose vast knowledge of Scotland’s moorland species sparked a pioneering wildlife tourism attraction in Perthshire, has landed a prestigious national award. Sandy Reid (73), a deerstalker on Atholl Estates, was at the forefront of a move, back in 2005, to showcase the estate’s bountiful wildlife to visitors through a wildlife land rover ‘safari’. Since then, Sandy has driven hundreds of visitors across Atholl’s moors to photograph iconic red deer Stags, resident golden eagles and lekking black grouse. It is a move which has since been rolled out successfully on

other Scottish sporting estates, contributing to a burgeoning wildlife tourism sector worth £127 million a year to Scotland’s rural economy. The retired stalker’s vision was rewarded with the Ronnie Rose Trophy from The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, named after the late forester, wildlife manager, MBE and author. The silverware, which recognises years of dedication to conservation or education in game management, was presented to Sandy at Moy Highland Field Sports Fair by Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing.

Win A Polaris Sportsman 110 Youth ATV For Christmas

Win the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation / Polaris 2016 Prize Draw, and enjoy the best Christmas morning ever by unwrapping a brand new Polaris Sportsman 110 EFI Youth ATV, worth £2,799 (incl. VAT). The draw will take place on 17 October 2016 to ensure delivery in time for Christmas. Tickets cost £2 each. Proceeds from ticket sales go to fund the work of the NGO in promoting and defending gamekeepers and keepering. Polaris is a sponsor of the NGO.

Look out for the Polaris Sportsman 110 EFI Youth ATV on the NGO stand at Countryfile Live, Blenheim 4-7 August. Prize Draw tickets will be on sale. Tickets may only be sold to those aged 16 and over. Tickets are also available wherever the NGO has a presence at shows, regional events and clay shoots. Books of five tickets can be bought from the NGO online shop. Tickets are also available from the NGO National Office by emailing info@nationalgamekeepers.org.uk or calling 01833 660869. 5


Game shooting in Glen Clova By Linda Mellor

The stunning Glen Clova awaits

The Glen Clova shoot is run by Dick and Mike Hardy. They are the shooting tenants on the 3,000 acre Kinblethmont Estate and approximately 6,000 acres of the Glen Clova Estate in the Angus Glens on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park. The father and son team have run the shoot in the glen for more than 12 years and offer driven pheasant with some duck and partridge. Shooting parties travel from all over the UK and further afield to enjoy the sport; many parties are 6

long standing customers who rebook year on year. They start shooting around mid-October and shoot through to the end of the season. The Hardy’s have a distinctive shooting pedigree. Dick owned the gun shop in Forfar for many years and was on the original committee who founded the Scottish Game Fair. He has shot for Scotland and Great Britain. Mike started shooting around the age of ten when he used to go wildfowling with his father

and recalls shooting his first teal with a twenty bore. Mike said, “It landed in the sea and I was determined to get it but I didn’t have a dog at the time so I retrieved it myself and got absolutely soaked.” Glen Clova is one of the 5 Angus glens. At the head of the valley is the rugged and remote Glen Doll, a popular and challenging spot for walkers. Further into the glen, by the Glen Clova Hotel, it is dominated by the Cairngorms with footpaths leading to

Braemar via Jock’s Road, Ballater and the Capel Mounth, and to Glen Prosen via the Kilbo Path. The glen is haven for wildlife and plants including some rare alpine flowers. It is not unusual to see a golden eagle. As soon as you enter the glen you feel compelled to stop and soak up the beautiful mountainous scenery. The glen’s beauty shines through the seasons, from the warm light and autumn hues to snow covered harsh winter days, its eye-catching splendour


Game shooting in Glen Clova

The shooting begins

remains undiminished. During the winter months, high up on the sides of the glen, you can often see distant herds of red deer making their way through the deep snow. The Glen Clova Hotel, located three quarters of the way up the glen, is the meeting point for the shoot. The glen’s topography meets the needs of the shoot very well, with the steep sides and the mixed woodlands they can provide the guns with a challenging day’s shooting. However, one of the biggest challenges the Hardy’s have to face each season is from the weather because it is very changeable and often harsh in the glen. Last year they struggled with the unseasonably wet weather, as did many shooting estates, the rainfall washed away many bridges, paths and tracks. One 8

particular day, the downpour had been so heavy the glen was flooded and they were unable to get any access in as the roads were under several feet of water. Mike said, “2016 is shaping up very well for us. We are lucky as we have not been too badly affected by the downturn in the oil industry unlike many shooting estates. The weather is a challenge though and we have to deal with it and the aftermath of the damage by reinstating bridges and paths.” A few seasons ago I joined a shooting party from Nottinghamshire. They were staying at the Glen Clova Hotel, originally a Drover’s Inn dating back to 1850s. The Shoot Captain Anthony Atkin told me it was the group’s 10th consecutive year shooting in the glen. The large hotel car

park is the gathering point for the shooters and the beaters. Lots of 4 x 4s turned up full of people and gundogs. It is an essential mode of transport for getting around the glen and into the drives especially in the depths of winter. Mike organised the beating team and Dick welcomed the shooting party and addressed them on the importance of gun safety and safe shooting. After the safety briefing the peg numbers were drawn before everyone jumped into the vehicles and drove in a convoy to the first drive. The winter sunshine took the sting out of the November cool air as Dick settled the guns at their peg positions. It is an interesting time before the first drive commences, you can sense the mixture of anticipation and concentration

from the guns as they wait for the birds. Standing on the glen floor you take in the expansive views of the hilly landscape, the snow covered tops and wisps of mist rising up from the trees. These ancient landscapes cast your imagination back in time, and like many Scottish glens, Clova is rich in history. Across the river from the hotel is where Margaret Adamson was burned for witchcraft in 1662 on Witch’s Hillock. There is a historical reference to a gold discovery in Glen Clova in 1619. In the 1990s a programme of sampling was conducted to identify the potential for economic gold mineralisation and a concentration of gold was discovered in the Burn of Fleurs and surrounding areas. No mining took place and the landowners do not allow gold panning.


Game shooting in Glen Clova

View Point By Niall Rowantree

Respect for mature stags A rather surprised red stag

In the distance Mike and the beaters worked their dogs flushing out the birds and driving them to the guns. “Over!” shouted one of the guns as the birds flew fast and high over the heads of the shooting party. The guns had to get limbered up very quickly as a steady stream of strong birds made the most of the wind and challenged the most competent of sportsmen. The whistle signalled the end of the drive and the pickers-up sent their dogs out to retrieve the shot birds. The guns gathered up their spent cartridge shells and headed back to the vehicles where they enjoyed a nip of sloe gin and a fair amount of leg pulling about the missed shots. The next two drives took us further into the glen, the snow covered hills reach into the clouds and the landscape has a wilder look to it. High up on the craggy hillside you saw the tiny, distant shapes of beaters working their dogs flushing out the pheasants. We crossed the wooden bridge over the fast flowing South Esk River. The river

starts high up in the glen and travels out to the Montrose basin. The shooting party settled into their peg positions, pulled out their guns from the slips and filled their pockets with cartridges in preparation for the final drive before lunch. The rain had started, the clouds were closing in and the light had dulled. In the distance beaters voices were heard. I sheltered under a tree when something on the left-hand side caught my eye. It was a Red Stag. The gun to my left had his eyes fixed ahead waiting on the birds and was oblivious to the appearance of the Stag. I had taken a number of photographs as the Stag moved away from the trees into the open, no more than fifty feet away from us. He looked directly at us and gave two of the other guns a glimpse before he disappeared into the woods on the other side of the clearing. What a treat it was to have seen him, a rather unexpected sight on a driven shooting day. Mike had called ahead so when we arrived at the hotel the fire was on and lunch was served promptly.

Too often, stalkers involved in deer management are eager to find reasons to kill a stag rather than find reasons not to kill him. Many have fallen into acceptance of deer management being purely an exercise in the control of numbers but before setting out this season consider the following. The importance of mature stags extends far beyond being the most sought-after trophy during the season. Red stags generally reach skeletal maturity from 4½ to 6½ years and grow their largest set of antlers from 7½ to 9½ years. Mature Stags are spectacular creatures but sadly are rare now in many areas and it’s difficult to make them available to hunters. Producing them requires knowledge, skill and time, and harvesting them is usually more difficult. Just as big fish and big trees indicate successful fishery and forestry management, the presence of mature stags

is a positive sign of effective deer management in action. Abundant research shows skewed adult sex ratios combined with a young stag age structure often results in hinds not being mated until their second or third oestrous cycles. Second and thirdcycle calves are born one to two months later than calves from hinds mated on time, and these calves begin life at a distinct disadvantage. Habitat quality is reduced by the time they’re born, they have less time to grow before the onset of winter, and predation rates are often higher because you lose the “saturation effect” of having abundant prey on the ground at the same time. Having mature stags in the population helps ensure the vast majority of hinds are mated during their first oestrous cycle, bringing about the benefits of an earlier, shorter calving period and a better performing herd. Choose wisely and enjoy the season.

Niall Rowantree is Headstalker and Sporting Manager of West Highland Hunting www.westhighland-hunting.co.uk 9


Game shooting in Glen Clova Fed and watered and reluctant to leave the cosy fireside, we returned to the vehicles and drove out to another part of the glen. It was a grassy, hilly area of the glen populated by dense clumps of gorse bushes. The relaxed post-lunch mood suddenly disappeared as the first birds appeared and flew like rockets high overhead. On the last drive, Dick led the convoy of vehicles through a large field to park up on the far side. The guns were placed in a huge arc facing a flat, boggy area of the glen. One of the guns shouted, ‘Snipe!� as two small fast flying birds darted out followed by pheasants and a few ducks. We returned to the hotel and in the bar Dick handed out the game cards; it was a healthy mixed bag of Pheasant, Mallard, Teal, Woodcock and Snipe. The shooting party

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Just in time... elevenses!


Game shooting in Glen Clova

Our ‘picker up’ and Labs at the ready

All photographs by Linda Mellor

settled in by the fireside with drinks in hand and recounted the day’s shooting with an ample smattering of leg pulling in regard to the missed birds. Mike said, “If you are coming up to shoot with us you will need to come prepared because the weather can change very quickly in the glen. We have a great base at the hotel and can offer shooting parties a tailored day; you can have soup and a sandwich by the fireside or a sit down 3 course lunch. We have the beautiful scenery and the topography to give our clients a great day’s shooting.” If you would like to find out more about driven shooting in Glen Clova Phone Mike Hardy on 07729 316388. Glen Clova Hotel http://www.clovahotel.com/

The shooting party

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The Countryside Alliance is an organisation which many people have heard of but fewer people actually know our true purpose. The introduction of the hunting ban and all of the argument and debate which went before it and has continued since thrust the Countryside Alliance into the limelight, and thereafter all too often defined as the “Fox Hunting People”. But there is far more to the Countryside Alliance than simply fighting the hunting ban, as our 100,000 members will testify. By Jamie Stewart, Director for Scotland, SCA

We are rightly proud of our work on wildlife and management and related legislation, but with a rural community support agenda our raison d’être is far broader. Incorporating food & farming, local businesses and services and the injustices of poor mobile phone signal and broadband in the countryside, we are anything but a single issue organisation and represent the interests of country people from all backgrounds and geographical locations. Quite simply, the Countryside Alliance exists to serve the interests of those who live in, work, and spend recreational time in the countryside. The organisation styles itself as a champion of country life, and above all else, it wants to make sure that countryside life, as it has been for many years, continues to exist in its traditional form. Having said this, the organisation itself will be the first to point out that although countryside traditions are at the heart of what it does, the outlook has to be forward thinking, in order to help those in the countryside to survive – for example, like helping land owners, managers and farmers to diversify and thus still be able to make a living in what is becoming a hard industry to cope in. Scotland’s rural economy is said to generate billions of pounds every year. Our food and drink, offer is celebrated and enjoyed the world over. Our wild and managed landscapes draw in millions of tourist’s year on year and we are world leaders in the generation of renewable energy. However 12

Jamie Stewart, Director for Scotland, SCA

despite this, to those of us who live and work in rural Scotland it might seem that investment in education, health and entrepreneurial innovation come a poor second to that of those living in the central belt… Rural Scotland comprises 95 per cent of the land area and around a fifth of the population. It has the potential, therefore, to make a huge contribution to the country’s economy, environment and culture. Representing the “beating heart” of rural communities, generating the income, creating the employment, maintaining the presence of young families and young adults. In recent years, rural Scotland’s population has grown at a faster rate than the rest of the country. However, rural businesses face unique challenges and are more reliant communication services,

broadband and transport to connect to their markets than their urban counterparts. Sadly challenges that are not particularity easy to overcome. Our vision is a future for rural Scotland which both preserves its traditional values and promotes thriving rural communities and economy; a countryside sustainably managed and sustainably enjoyed; a countryside where rural communities have equal access to the facilities and services enjoyed in urban communities; a countryside where people can pursue their businesses, activities and lives in a society that appreciates and understands their way of life. Our mission is to attract private and public sector investment in amenities that keep these communities alive and thriving,

So how do we do it!. We have worked to promote the value of local services such as pubs and post offices, supporting and celebrating those who continue to trade in difficult times through our Scottish Rural Awards initiative and have lobbied the Scottish Parliament hard to find an answer to the closure of rural GP practices, often because they fail to recruit doctors. We are working with schools and businesses to reverse the current out-migration trends and encourage more young people to live and work in rural Scotland, whether in traditional industries including farming, crofting, country sports and tourism, hospitality, rural businesses, forestry or in new industries like renewable energy in its many forms. We want more people to be able to live and work in our countryside, minimising transport miles and maximising local commerce and production and are determined that the digital revolution benefits rural as well as urban Scots and are working hard to ensure there is a reliable level of broadband services for all of rural Scotland and for those isolated communities unable to connect to the grid that they be given access to fast internet services via mobile or satellite technology. We have seen how strongly the Scottish Government feel in relation to the ownership of land in Scotland but do think that they have missed the point. Yes the way land is owned and used and governed is vitally important to the wellbeing of Scotland with a


healthy bias towards those who live and work thereon; but much of the land in question is managed, sensitively and sustainably through tried and tested methods and actively producing employment opportunities and greatly needed income sources to facilitate and support the continence or the establishment of vibrant rural communities. The Scottish government may have published “radical” objectives aimed at widening the ownership and diversity of land use across the country but the real solution to sustainable rural communities is not who owns the land but what happens thereon and the identification of the limiting factors for growth throughout rural Scotland. It is or aim to work with the Scottish Government and partner organisations to aid the transition from traditional patterns of land ownership to ensure that the change is indeed for the betterment of those living and working on the land and not simply the hollow rhetoric of politics.

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We see connectivity as key to growth. A serviceable communications infrastructure that is fit for purpose is vital for economic and social activity, frustratingly while urban areas generally have good mobile phone and broadband coverage, many parts of rural Scotland have no, or very limited access. We are determined that the digital revolution benefits all of Scotland and have worked both with industry regulator Ofcom and commercial operations such as 3 mobile and Route Metrics to capture relevant evidence to aid us in our campaign to ensure that the Scottish Government fulfils the promise that all of Scotland should have access to fast broadband by 2020. Our dedicated charity The Countryside Alliance Foundation (TCAF) aims to help adults and children alike make the most of the incredible remedial and educational benefits of being involved in the natural environment. By introducing

people to the delights of rural living we hope to inspire them to become passionate about the countryside. The body of research showing the considerable health and well-being benefits of spending time in natural green spaces is growing. Outdoor learning can help children and young people understand subjects, like maths or science, through real world examples and first-hand experience. Whilst academic achievement is important, outdoor education can play a significant role helping pupils develop soft skills like good communication, team work and leadership that are essential to the well-rounded education that is vital for life beyond the classroom. In addition our Casting for Recovery initiative exists to provide an opportunity for women whose lives have been profoundly affected by breast cancer to gather on an all-expenses paid retreat in a natural setting and learn the sport of fly fishing. Casting for

Recovery retreats are based on the principles that the natural world is a healing force and that cancer survivors deserve one weekend — free of charge and free of the stresses from medical treatment, home, or workplace - to experience something new and challenging while enjoying beautiful surroundings within an intimate, safe, and nurturing structure The Countryside Alliance’s unique and extensive knowledge and understanding of all of the rural areas of the UK is unsurpassed. We have a strong history of lobbying for change where it might affect rural communities, from the southern counties, to more hilly and remote areas of upland Scotland, this experience means that the Alliance and its members are well-placed to campaign on issues of importance to rural communities. If you still think we are a “single issue” organisation, I implore you to take another look! www.countryside-alliance.org


Economics of deerstalking By Niall Rowantree

Red deer have roamed through the woodlands and hills of Scotland for centuries and are woven into the country’s rich tapestry. That our red deer have been the centre of controversy is therefore nothing new. Over the last couple of years there has been a strengthening call that there are “too many deer in Scotland” and that as a start the annual cull should be doubled by an additional 100,000 deer killed to save the environment. Niall Rowantree, headstalker and sporting manager for West Highland Hunting discusses what a devastating impact the cull would have on deer stalking and the communities that are heavily reliant on the industry.

Can you imagine visiting the Highlands of Scotland, gazing out across the picturesque rolling hills of the west and our most iconic wild mammal was absent? This is a very real possibility if opinions held, particularly by those in support of rewilding are pushed through to Government legislation. Red deer are a true icon of Scotland however there are calls to see the population significantly culled to re-establish lost habitats allegedly destroyed solely by deer. That by at least doubling culls across Scotland the environmental issues will be solved. This clarion call is at best hiding the complexity of the ecosystem we now find ourselves within; the complex interactions between deer, people and the habitat. At worst it could devastate a unique culture and way of life It’s undeniable that red deer as a species are landscape 15


Economics of deerstalking engineers. As herbivores, reds rely on the lower shrub layer of woodland plants for their sustenance. With the right population per area, this is not a problem, they are part of the integral natural life cycle of the woodland they inhabit, even having a beneficial influence. The special calcareous grasslands found across parts of the west of Scotland require grazing to flourish. However, when the population becomes too large, they can cause significant lasting damage. If there are too many deer there will not be enough shrub land to sustain such a large herd, causing them to begin grazing on tree seedlings. In a naturally regenerating woodland such as native pinewoods, this can be catastrophic because as the old trees eventually die, the new ones will no longer be there to replace them, causing the

forest to gradually recede and diminish. To combat the issue, various protest groups across Scotland

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are backing the rewilding lobby in a bid to rewild and nurture the habitats that have been lost or are in danger of disappearing, like the sub-Atlantic oak forest of the western sea board or the Caledonian pine forest of the central glens. The current target states that just for native woodland they would like by 2020 to have created an extra 5,000 Ha of native woodland and to have increased the amount of native woodland in good condition. This is a laudable ambition driven in part to meet Scotland’s international biodiversity obligations. Scraping underneath however you see that it is only for deer and deer managers that strict targets have been set. In addition to the culling of deer to meet these Government targets the reintroduction of apex predators such as wolves, lynx and brown bear have been suggested. This could be catastrophic to the people of Scotland, the red deer population and other grazing animals such as sheep. How well does this approach sit with the key government policy drivers for rural economic development? It’s important to establish the relationship that Scotland

has with deer stalking. Roughly 25 percent of the country is used for deer management, directly providing 2,500 jobs in positions such as stalkers, guides or ghillies. On average, there is £43,000,000 per year spent on deer management which includes everything from wages to maintaining the habitat. Take a step back and broaden the criteria to include hospitality and the supply chain of fieldsports and it increases dramatically to around £140,000,000. On top of that, there are various other industries that benefit as a result of stalking such as other tourist attractions in Scotland, the thriving venison trade and niche industries such as taxidermy. While admiring the enthusiasm of those advocating ‘rewilding’, its practical application would seem flawed and simply not viable. Firstly, there is the issue of differing population figures. How many red deer are there across Scotland? No one knows. Conducting a count on open grassland is relatively simple, but trying to get figures in woodland or forest terrain is extremely difficult and usually inaccurate. Scottish National


Economics of deerstalking

Heritage (SNH) estimates there are roughly 300,000 red deer in Scotland, while the John Muir Trust quote the total at 400,000. If a universal total cannot be agreed on with estimates varying by at least 100,000, how can an appropriate cull total be agreed on? Applying national statistics based on assumptions which themselves are based on assumptions does not give land managers security that future decisions are evidence based. Government and rewilding bodies are additionally demanding that woodland regeneration must be achieved without fencing. This would effectively mean deer densities of below 4 deer per km2 With any less than eight deer per 1km2 the unique selling point of Scottish deer stalking is not possible. It is important to remember that estates are run as a business to pay wages and perhaps make a profit. A deer herd at less than eight per 1km2 would not support this, causing innumerable job losses and a collapse of the industry. Regarding the introduction of apex predators, the proposal has gaping holes. It’s true that in years gone by, the red deer population was probably kept in balance by natural predators. It was however a very different country then with no large blocks of commercial forestry nor commercial livestock interest. Scotland is a small country. It is not

North America. Additionally a wolf, will unfortunately not distinguish between a red deer and other animals. It will hunt down the easiest target, be that a sheep grazing in a field, a cat let out at night or a dog playing in the garden. In an ideal world, these predators would remain in the area they are assigned and would only target the animals that humans want culled. In the real world, there is no way of implementing this. On damage by grazing and browsing why is it only deer that are being vilified? It is common for deer to share a habitat with areas of active hill sheep farming. For example, in an area managed by West Highland Hunting there are 180 red hinds alongside 900 breeding ewes. To have the government’s conservation body SNH and others demanding unilateral action on deer is nonsensical.. SNH’s own measures for reporting on designated sites do not differentiate between sheep, rabbits, hare or deer. Why then when the whole purpose of this lobby is to regain Scotland’s true natural ecological heritage, would we single out the animal which has been most iconic to the Celtic people for centuries? The only reason can be politics. Part of the issue may quite simply be that many people don’t like the fact that large amounts of Highland land, is owned by foreign absentee landowners. While

What we are about… The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) unites gamekeepers, stalkers, river and land ghillies, wildlife managers and rangers in one unified representative body. Since its establishment in 1998, it has also expanded further to welcome recreational shooters, syndicates, and angling clubs. The SGA has, for many years, been an influential champion for land and river managers and sportsmen and women when issues affecting their jobs or sport have come to the fore. The organisation helped fight the Watson Bill, enabling pack hounds to be kept for essential fox control work, and has pushed to retain indispensable tools of the land managers’ trade. A key rural stakeholder on governmental and industry forums, it remains a powerful voice on rural issues, through the media and in Parliament. It was instrumental in drafting the Best Practice guidelines governing deer management in Scot-land and has raised the profile of key topics through its Year

of the Wader and Year of the Rural Worker programmes as well as its campaign to value globally rare moorland. SGA Chairman Alex Hogg, a long serving gamekeeper in the Scottish Borders, is delighted the SGA is to be one of the supporting partners of Shooting Scotland magazine. “The team place great emphasis on design and the quality of the product is excellent. It is im-portant for titles such as Shooting Scotland to put forward the case and emphasise the many benefits of responsible game management and shooting for Scotland’s biodiversity and econo-my. We wish the team every success in the months ahead.” At the time of going to print, the SGA was preparing for an event at Holyrood to put forward to MSPs the welfare case for the shortening of working dogs’ tails following Government research which saw 57 per cent of undocked Spaniels having their tails injured in one season.

http://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Inveralmond Business Centre. 6 Auld Bond Road, South Inveralmond, Perth, PH1 3FX. Tel: 01738 587515


understanding their viewpoint however, what isn’t taken into account is costs. Currently, the majority of deer management is funded by the land owners and private individuals, for a combination of population control and revenue generation. Although they may live abroad, many invest a significant amount of their own money into estates, which would otherwise by unavailable. It currently costs £36,000,000 per year to implement the current cull never mind the additional costs for increased culls. It would seem unlikely the government would be able to meet this cost. The diversity of people owning land seems also to be an issue to some. Suggestions have been made to divide the large estates up into smaller

18

Photographs courtesy of Tweed Media

Economics of deerstalking

sections and designate it to farming, be that livestock or

arable. This would require a significant amount of investment in start up costs, increase the complexity of collaborative land use and could endanger private inward investment. Land that is currently used by WHH has two castles that function as hotels, 13 self-catering holiday cottages plus extremely successful sporting, farming and forestry operations and now sources of renewable energy as well as the production of lamb beef and venison. This did take considerable investment to build up and required the various businesses operating on the land to be coordinated. Cooperatives of individual land holdings do not have a successful track record. So what is the solution? What we need is balance. Anyone that farms, is involved in managing woodland, fieldsports or just enjoys the countryside has generally no intention to see Scotland degraded. What we have to do is balance the needs of our modern society and the economics of the rural community with what’s deliverable... Deer management and stalking are primary land uses

that currently exist, which invest in Scotland’s economy. The debate on future models of land management must acknowledge and support this. If we want people to manage what we perceive to be our wild places to a particular level, then we must have an open and inclusive debate about what we mean. This will require land owners, irrespective of their abode, to meet their responsibilities and be open to challenge. It will also require government and environment bodies to accept that the Scottish countryside is a work place that generates income. In that, we can build in community benefits and decision making so there is a socioeconomic and environmental benefit ownership. . These are all perfectly legitimate ground rules that are acceptable in a modern democracy and would help us to harmonise deer stalking with maintaining and preserving the environment. Unfortunately, the current stand of the government and lobby groups poses an enormous threat to the long term viability of deer stalking in the western Highlands.


The Falconer

Game On! By Steven Brazendale August to November are the busiest months in the country sports calendar with many of Scotland’s game species in season, including the iconic autumnal quarry of grouse and red deer. As I write, the weather has finally warmed up on Scotland’s east coast and autumn seems a long way off. My summer season has been varied and productive and I have built a good business network since moving to the East Neuk in spring. My team of birds has settled well here; the hawks enjoy the woodland, the falcons love the open skies and I have a young kestrel in training. But my countryman’s roots mean I am already looking ahead – and west – anticipating autumn, when I’ll switch to my role as The Scottish Countryman and earn my living as a deer stalker in the Highlands. Closely linked as means of hunting-turned-sport, Scotland’s falconry and deer stalking seasons coincide at the back end of the year as their quarry becomes plentiful: grouse, pheasant and partridge; red and roe deer. Every autumn, for almost 20 years, I enjoyed game hawking on the hills high above Loch Sunart on Morvern. Damp weather and predating mink kept the resident populations of grouse and pheasant low so I’d put

down partridge and work hard to create the perfect hunting triangulation of pointer,

peregrine and prey. The flights I engineered were often fruitless, occasionally spectacular and

always inspiring and taught me a great deal about wildlife and the workings of nature. Now, my falconry is purely educational and I spend summer using the Inspired Falconry team to teach others about Scotland’s countryside. Yes, I miss game hawking but I still look forward to spending autumn on the open hill and forest edge where I will manage a red deer population in support of herd health and forestry as well as the rural economy. A different game, and game, to that of a falconer but, for a Scottish countryman, autumn is very much still: “Game On!” 19


topic

Be safe – be prepared to be visible When out in remote areas of Scotland, having the ability to be easily seen when it is necessary, can save your life, think on! By Maureen Young Countryside camouflage and rustic tweed clothing worn by field sports enthusiasts and rural workers serves a purpose - to help render the wearer “invisible” to game and help them blend in unobtrusively to their forest, moorland or hillside landscape. But blending effectively into the background can present its own dangers. For when disaster strikes, rescue teams have little or no chance of spotting you. And precious minutes and hours can be lost trying to locate sick or injured people who simply “disappear” against the landscape. Statistics show that those employed in the rural and agricultural industries face the greatest danger of accident or mishap of all professions. And when the worst happens in remote and isolated areas, getting help quickly to the right location is of paramount importance. Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) is one of a growing number of charity-funded helicopter air ambulances serving in the UK and the only one of its type in Scotland - working alongside two Government-funded helicopters. From its central base near Perth, SCAA serves the whole of Scotland which accounts for a third of the UK landmass, over 100 islands and some of the most remote communities in Europe. A large sector of Scotland’s economy is reliant on field sports and rural estate income generation. Many of those employed within the sector have witnessed the benefits of air ambulance efficiency 20

first hand. And the people who use estates recreationally for walking, fishing, horse riding etc, also benefit from the added air ambulance capacity offered in Scotland by SCAA. SCAA Lead Paramedic John Pritchard explains that, sadly, the helicopter is deployed regularly to accidents and emergencies in remote inaccessible locations - well away from roads and tracks where casualties cannot be reached easily by land ambulances. “When accidents happen miles from anywhere, a helicopter air ambulance such as SCAA can make a critical difference - often between life and death,” he stresses. “We

can only bring rapid paramedic care to the scene and transfer the casualty quickly to hospital, however, if we can locate the incident scene easily. “Air ambulances can land very close to an incident location - but it’s spotting that location from hundreds of feet in the air that can prove a problem.” A recent emergency call for SCAA to a remote hillside in Scotland saw a stalking party in trouble when one of the group sustained head injuries after an all terrain vehicle overturned on a steep slope. With communications poor and no first aid kit one of the party had to leave the patient to find a phone signal.

“Once contact was made with the emergency services it became evident how difficult it was to relay the patient’s exact location,” explains John. “Due to the camouflage clothing everyone was wearing it was difficult to see the party from the air - although they could see the helicopter approaching and circling, SCAA couldn’t see them. “It was only when a quick thinking member of the group removed his shirt and the crew spotted his gleaming white Scottish man torso that the casualty was pinpointed!” SCAA has been called several times to shoots and those who know the area best have proved invaluable in locating the casualty.


topic “Gamekeepers, estate and rural workers - as well as local dwellers - have helped us out whenever they can,” describes John. “They have picked up the paramedics in their vehicles from the helicopter landing site to transport us quickly into woods or rugged terrain where the patient is and they’ve helped pinpoint accurately co-ordinates or distinctive landmarks to guide the helicopter safely to the incident location. “Their local knowledge of the ground and the accessibility is crucial to a quick and successful outcome.” John believes that while countryside users dress to blend into their surroundings, there is nothing to stop them carrying a few simple items which would make life a lot easier for emergency responders trying to locate them if they or a member of their party take ill or get injured.

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22


topic

The Deerstalker By Brian Lile

He suggests that on a shoot you should think about carrying: * First Aid kit comprising of wound dressings, triangular bandages, plasters, scissors. Due to camouflaged clothing carry a rolled up Hi Viz vest hidden in a pocket. Hi Viz yellow can be spotted easily against moorland, heather and scrub. A silver foil sheet/blanket is also an easily carried and easily spotted addition to your backpack. * A smoke flare is also useful as once ignited can be spotted from miles away and will show wind direction for the Pilot, but do not use if it may cause a hill fire! “We would also encourage gamekeepers, farmers, crofters, landowners and other rural workers to adopt an easy-to-use grid reference system which will help define accurately their location when summoning help,” suggests John. “By carrying a pocket-size card detailing the grid reference of key landmarks on their land which are clearly visible to emergency responders, anyone involved in an accident can pass on an accurate location to emergency services, allowing help to find them easily.” The reference point cards detailing unique landmarks such as lochs, prominent hills, masts, water features, churches, bridges or road features - can be copied and kept in multiple locations by everyone on the farm or estate, including on their vehicles, in workers’ pockets or pasted to the back of their mobile phones. SCAA already works with the National Farmers Union

Scotland to promote such a scheme - called “Saving Time, Saving Lives”. John also offers some advice for when you are preparing for an aircraft arrival: * Locate an unobstructed area approximately the size of a tennis court * Do not mark the landing area with loose objects * Never shine lights at the helicopter * To indicate to the aircrew stand with you arms held up in the ‘Y’ shape. * Always wear high visibility and turn away from the aircraft’s down draft when landing. Landing Area safety: * Approach the aircraft only with the flight crew’s permission * Approach and depart from the front of the aircraft * Never approach the aircraft from an uphill slope * No objects to be lifted above shoulder height within the vicinity of the aircraft No motor vehicles within 150 feet of the aircraft, make sure area is secure when aircraft is departing.

At the time of writing as we move towards the end of July, deer stalkers both professional and recreational are continually looking for signs that the roe deer rut is about to start, and sitting in the garden writing this on a muggy evening with 22deg still registering, it’s likely that this event will be just around the corner. Roe being our most widespread of all Scottish deer and distributed throughout Scotland from Caithness to the Borders make stalking accessible to everyone. Many old and wise bucks that have thus far eluded the stalker since the season opened on the 1st of April in Scotland suddenly become less wary and can be brought in to the ‘pheep’ - pheep’ sounds made by a deer call imitating what they believe is an interested doe. To be honest I have mixed feelings about this time of year. I appreciate that cull targets need to be met and guests wishes need to be satisfied, but on the other hand the bungling efforts made by less careful stalkers over the previous 4 months suddenly don’t matter, as the overpowering desire to mate causes bucks to make fatal mistakes. This natural inquisitiveness seen in roe,

more so than any other species of deer I’ve stalked, can prove their downfall. After July and August are past, the roe bucks all but disappear, to heal wounds from fighting and recover some body weight lost by all the chasing. Now deerstalkers thoughts begin to move forward to the Red and Sika rut, normally in full swing around the middle of October, but I’m sure many will agree that recent years have seen a more sporadic rut, often appearing to switch on and off over several weeks, especially with Sika. In Scotland we are very fortunate that the species present, red, roe, sika and fallow allow for 12 months of sport. But for those of us often guiding visiting guests for a living it’s the winter months that see the real hard work begin with the cull starting on the does and hinds and hope that good weather will mean not too many days being lost. However, to be out on the hill, forest or in the woods regardless of how cold or wet it is, is a way of life and one that wouldn’t be swapped for all the riches a city job may offer. Heres hoping you all have a fantastic autumn rut and a safe and fruitful winter.

Scotland’s charity-funded helicopter air ambulance has proven that they can save lives by flying rapidly to incidents in some of the country’s most remote and inaccessible rural terrain. But their task can be made easier if we all think about carrying something that will help us be highly visible instead of invisible when the need demands and by being aware of our exact location at any given time.

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habitat and species protection

New bid to help black grouse in southern Scotland By Adam Smith, Director Scotland, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

The black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) is a charismatic bird larger than its red counterpart, the male is glossy black with lyre-shaped tail, a distinctive red wattle over the eye, white under tail and a white flash on its wing. The less exotic female is mottled grey-brown. Black grouse were once so widespread they were said to be present in every county in Britain, but they have been in decline for more than 150 years. 24

This is due to a combination of factors including the loss and fragmentation of moorland and moorland fringe habitats through agricultural improvement and commercial afforestation, and increases in generalist predators. Two thirds of the remaining 5000 males are now found in Scotland with 1000 in northern England and 400 in Wales. Whilst numbers of black grouse in the Scottish Highlands are

considered stable, numbers are struggling though the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway where some stability would be expected. GWCT has demonstrated through a recovery project in northern England that the declines can be stopped and numbers increased, but this requires a landscape scale approach, where neighbouring moorland land managers implement a suite of

conservation measures on the moor fringe. The focus is now on the south of Scotland, with the launch of a new conservation plan in early July at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair outlining necessary management approaches to stop the decline in this region, then increase numbers and encourage recolonisation of lost range. Black grouse conservation in southern Scotland – Phase


habitat and species protection 2 development of a regional strategic conservation plan has been funded by project partners the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Lammermuirs Moorland Group, Scottish Borders Council and RSPB Scotland A number of priority actions have been set out in the plan that aims to reverse the long-term decline of black grouse in the region. This has accelerated in recent decades, with numbers falling by 49% and 69% in southwest and south-east Scotland respectively between 1995/6 and 2005 to an estimated 807 and 257 males. The new plan follows an earlier desk-top project in 2013/14 that looked specifically at the size and management of moorland areas and how this affected black grouse occupancy and numbers. This concluded that to conserve black grouse effectively in southern Scotland a landscapescale approach was required with its fundamental objectives to secure and protect core populations associated with the larger moorland areas, prior to instigating measures to increase population size and the connectivity with other moorland in the landscape. At the launch in July, Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, said: “Black grouse are among Scotland’s most iconic and impressive species but I am aware numbers in southern Scotland have fallen in recent decades. To halt this decline, it is therefore vital that we work together to take the right conservation action in the right places.” The new plan outlines three sets of priority actions, short, medium and long term. Short term Increase breeding productivity and over-winter survival of black grouse in the Tweedsmuir

and Moorfoot Hills and the Galloway Forest Park, to provide ‘recruits’ to re-colonise neighbouring areas. This will be achieved by enhancing habitat on the moorland fringe through agri-environment/ woodland schemes, forest management and targeted predator management. Also, to establish a robust surveying and monitoring strategy to monitor populations and assess success of the work done through the course of the project. Medium term Implement immediate conservation measures to safeguard remnant black grouse populations in the Muirkirk Hills, East Galloway and the Lowther Hills. To retain and consolidate connectivity between populations in the west and east, through restoring and enhancing moorland habitat networks, forest restructuring and targeted broadleaf planting. Promote range recolonisation in the Lammermuir and Pentland Hills from the Moorfoots through agri-environment schemes on heather moorland fringes with full-time gamekeepers. Translocation is also proposed as an option in the plan to expand the range of the birds into previously occupied areas where suitable habitat has been restored. Long term Restore and enhance connectivity between Langholm and the Tweedsmuir Hills through retention and maintenance of a heathland network east of Craik Forest, as well as investigating similar linkage north through Eskdalemuir. Also, to restore functional habitat links and connectivity between Galloway Forest Park southwards to Cairnmore to create a larger, more robust population in the south-west. Dr Philip Warren of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and author of the plan commented: “This strategic plan provides an important

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thing in it’s world, that you’re the centre of attention in everything it does. Early on, try to avoid rough handling, overly loud noises or intimidation or aggression from older dogs. Try to be as gentle as possible, praise him or her at every opportunity with a soft voice tone, and loads of encouragement. Within no time you’ll see the puppy grow in confidence and stature. &OR ME TRAINING STARTS early on, whether it be retrieving a rolled up sock, sitting down at feeding time, or walking on the lead, all of these habits can be installed in playful ways, with no pressure applied. Make playing with the puppy exciting for it, remember even when older, the dogs attention span is quite short, so don’t at this age, bore your dog with repetitive tasks it can’t do. &EEDING TIME PROVIDES A great chance to form good habits, such as sitting down, paying attention, looking at you, all basic requirements for ongoing training in the weeks and months to come. The arrival of a new puppy can be stressful for both dog and owner, but with a bit of patience and lots of enthusiasm you’ll soon be ready for the next stage. www.caledonianretrieverclub. org.uk


habitat and species protection

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platform for all parties to deliver black grouse conservation objectives in southern Scotland. In the short term we need to target resources to secure remaining populations whilst in the longer term putting in place a network of habitat corridors to enhance connectivity and facilitate future range colonisation.” Dr Sue Haysom of SNH welcomed the moves and said the Scottish Government’s Environmental Co-operation Action Fund (ECAF) and Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) provide useful resources. She said: “We are committed to black grouse conservation in Scotland – we want to ensure generations to come can enjoy the sight of this species displaying in all its glory,” she said. “It is an important link in our biodiversity chain and this partnership project, assisted by SRDP and ECAF, aims to support those who wish to do something positive for black grouse. The objective is to target our collaborative efforts in the most effective way and this plan shows us how.”

Duncan Orr-Ewing from RSPB Scotland said: “RSPB Scotland welcome this report and its focus on landscape scale conservation and active habitat management. We will work with partners to make sure this report is implemented on the ground.” The Lammermuirs Moorland Group has also helped with funding because of its members’ strong desire to see black grouse flourishing again in the Lammermuir Hills. Evidence from the north of England shows a close correlation with red grouse management, particularly predator control. The grouse moor estates in the Lammermuirs can provide practical input to help range recolonisation from the Moorfoot Hills and will be working with GWCT and other partners on delivery of the conservation plan.

The full plan is available to download from www.gwct.org.uk/ blackgrouseplan


by Linda Mellor

SCOTTISH COUNTRY LIFE It has been a busy summer; the gamekeepers are tending to their birds for the forthcoming season, the Highland show AND THE 3COTTISH 'AME &AIR have been and gone. Next up on the calendar is the (IGHLAND &IELDSPORTS &AIR AT -OY ON &RIDAY TH AND Saturday 6th August; this is one of my favourite events to attend. It keeps in touch with all aspects of the countryside without being swamped by the commercialism other events appear to court. Moy is followed by the Galloway #OUNTRY &AIR AT $RUMLANRIG Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st August. One of the biggest events on the country sports calendar is the ‘glorious’ 12th August when the shooting season opens on the grouse. A day at the driven grouse is as thrilling as it can get with the highspeed grouse rocketing over the butts on the windswept moors. Equally thrilling is a day shooting grouse over pointers; watching the dogs quarter over the heather, then stopping on point when they find a covey of grouse. Your heart thumping in your chest as you walk quietly in to the point with your eyes fixed on a clump of heather knowing that birds could explode out from the undergrowth at any moment. Country sports offer participants many benefits, from the fresh air filling your

lungs to the pleasing views of the flora and fauna. There are no limits to enjoying the countryside and if you wish to take part in fieldsports you have a variety of activities to pick from. If you are coming into country sports later in life there will always be an activity to suit your level of fitness. Being active improves our psychological wellbeing by enhancing mood and selfESTEEM&ROMTHESTRENUOUSHILL climb for a day’s deer stalking in the highlands to a relaxing day spent fly fishing on the river, you can take your pick. A few years ago I was BOOKED BY 4ROUT  3ALMON magazine to photograph salmon fishing on the Isle of Lewis. I spent a number of days fishing with Richard, the owner of the Soval estate. He and his wife would regularly travel up from the Home

Counties and organise a week on the Island with their family and close friends. In addition to fishing, Richard said he loved nothing more than going deer stalking on the island. The first part of the stalk would involve going in by boat, stopping to observe the deer before mooring the boat and stalking in to the deer high up on the hill. After the beast had been shot he would drag it back down the hill and, to finish off the stalk, he’d take a swim in the loch before heading homewards by boat. The venison was used in the lodge alongside all the other game shot on the estate. On my first night with the group, we enjoyed an evening of chat; sharing our love of country sports and eating the game previously shot by Richard, his family and friends.

Country sports have been a mainstay in many people’s lives and the passion for the outdoors has been carried down through the generations. On a family shoot you may see all ages out for the day from youngsters to the great grandparents. In some cases it is a tradition that’s taken place for more than a century, a high spot on the family calendar when everyone travels back home. Some of the older family members give up their gun to make way for the youngsters but are still keen to take part by enjoying the walk or perhaps beating. It’s a sociable day with plenty fresh air, chat and usually a hearty lunch in the bothy. Everyone gets something positive from the day be it the fresh air, the exercise and a chance to catch up with family and friends. There are many benefits to be had including fresh game for the dinner table. These days we are all much more aware of our health and the importance of an active lifestyle. More and more people are taking to the countryside and finding ways to enjoy it. We are very fortunate in Scotland as there is so much on offer. We can walk, shoot, stalk and fish surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Visitors travel from far flung parts of the world to enjoy it however we are the lucky ones because it is on our doorstep. 27


The changing landscape of deer management in Scotland Within the current deer management debate, we often see people arguing that deer management in Scotland is stuck in the past, and is incapable of evolving. The arguments and statistics used are often outdated and, in many cases, deliberately misleading. Much of this commentary does a great disservice to the many people involved in deer and wider land and conservation management and all the work and local initiatives that they get involved in, with the current deer management process highlighting the very great range of aims and objectives which actually exist, even within the private sector. Changing times Deer management in Scotland does evolve and change and is not stuck in the Victorian age. The formation of the Deer Commission for Scotland (DCS) twenty years ago heralded a huge change in culture, with the accompanying Deer (Scotland) Act 1996 still providing the essential working mechanisms of the system we have today, mechanisms which are likely to continue going forwards because they cover all the basics and the range of conflict situations which potentially exist. The coming of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 sent out a very strong signal that access to democratic structures was going to be enhanced, and that debate over land management issues was going to take place a lot closer to home than it did previously. All interest groups developed their capacity for lobbying and policy development, and the standard of argument improved considerably from all sides of the debate. For example, the access legislation of the first Scottish Parliament, while not perfect, 28

provided for a common- sense resolution of issues that had previously seemed impossible to negotiate or even to acknowledge. Government agencies such as Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the then Deer Commission for Scotland (DCS) improved their ways of analysing situations and gathering information, and replaced a rather haphazard and frustrating system which relied on the whims of individuals with procedures which were more consistent and evidence based. They formalised their grounds for intervention, and this enabled the Deer Act of 1996 to be used effectively to protect the natural heritage for the first time. The result of this has been that the status of designated sites started to improve, and that has continued through to today at a steady pace. When the DCS used

Looking inland from Kinlochbervie

Photos: All by Victor Clements

by Victor Clements

Hinds in field at Invervar

their teeth for the first time at Glen Feshie in 2003, they caused an argument, but owners took note and changed their approach to conflict situations accordingly.

Things would be done differently in future, and a range of difficult land use disputes at a local level got quietly resolved. The recent deer disputes we have


Deer management in Scotland that have received media coverage are notable partly because we have had a decade without them. They are a throw back to another time. The wide range of management objectives on private properties became evident very quickly in the mid 2000s, with a younger generation of owners being quite happy to address environmental issues. It wasn’t all about deer. It is interesting to note, for example, that by far the greatest area of new native woodland plantings in Scotland is within the red deer range in the Highlands, with owners looking to diversify habitats for the future, constrained only by the very limited Scottish Government funding available for this. Best Practice Guidance was developed which has stood the test of time, and which stalkers and estate owners readily bought into. Formalised training has become widespread, and the

30

Woodland creation behind fences in Highland Perthshire


Deer management Scottish Quality Wild Venison scheme (SQWV) introduced in 2003 has very rapidly increased the levels of professionalism in lardering and meat preparation. Today, the vast majority of venison is produced to this standard. Marketing efforts have been hugely successful. An industry that was exporting ninety per cent of its produce because nobody here wanted it now has to import 1000 tonnes a year because of demand. Venison is seen as a quality Scottish product, and rightly so, with chefs and politicians keen to be associated with it. The colleges have played their part as well, turning out young graduates with a wider range of skills and interests who are sought after by forwardlooking estates, and it is these people who are now making the greatest impact in driving change within the sector. They are capable of managing a range of activities as well as deer, and understand environmental monitoring techniques and their implementation. These computer-literate young keepers with good communication skills are now coming into their 30s and 40s and taking up roles of influence within the industry. You can pick them out at deer group meetings. They can explain what they do and why, and are capable of articulating that to a wider audience. They have given unanimous support to the current deer management planning process, see it as not a threat but an opportunity, and in many cases have been able to persuade their bosses, some of whom would describe themselves as dinosaurs, of the merits of doing this. They can argue their point convincingly on radio, television or social media, and many are writers in their local press. Deer have become a core part of many new businesses which rely on wildlife watching, either as safaris, or as subject material for photography which fills in slower periods of the year, diversifies income, and provides material for the promotion of estates and wider geographic areas. In many cases, such opportunities are

intimately integrated with bed and breakfast accommodation, either on the estates concerned, or in local villages, where every pound is important. Get involved For those who think that deer management in Scotland is somehow a closed shop, look at some of the people now involved in running deer management groups. Senior staff from the RSPB and The National Trust for Scotland chair DMGs one of which is administered by the Cairngorms National Park Authority. Forest Enterprise has fulfilled this function in the past. Grazing committees, community groups and crofters also chair a range of groups. The range of people providing secretarial and administrative support to deer management groups is even wider. As well as a variety of woodland advisors, I can think of a retired school teacher, a college student, a fisheries trust and a community group. The Executive Committee of ADMG includes at least two woodland advisors, two representatives of environmental NGOs, agricultural interests, a retired Director of the Forestry Commission and past employees of SNH and the DCS, as well as practical stalkers and people who have a wide range of other land use experience as well. The opportunity to contribute has always been there, and this will allow the deer sector to adapt and go forwards in the future as it has been doing so now for over twenty years. The challenge for those who disagree is to get involved, and bring practical skills to the table so that elements of the public interest can be better assessed and developed together. If the deer sector can evolve and change, those standing against it must evolve and change as well. Victor Clements is a woodland advisor working in Highland Perthshire, and is an Executive Committee member of the Association of Deer Management Groups as well as the Secretary of the Breadalbane DMG.

Working to promote country sports in Scotland By Beth Johnston

The Scottish Association for Country Sports is Scotland and Northern Ireland’s largest fieldsports advocacy body, representing members across the UK who participate in any recognised country sport. Our work is centred on firearms licensing member cases, legal support and Government lobbying, along with provision of comprehensive fieldsports insurance for our members. You may have heard that the Scottish Government has introduced airgun licensing, with the new Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015 coming into force on  *ANUARY  &ROM THIS date, it will be an offence to possess or use a nonsection 1 airgun in Scotland except as permitted within the Act. Broadly speaking, this means that you will need an Air Weapon Certificate, a visitor’s permit, membership of an Approved Club or be under the direct supervision of someone who is. As you might imagine, this new law is keeping us extremely busy just now! At SACS, our professional opinion is that the new law is complete nonsense and totally unnecessary. Every potential instance of misuse

of an airgun in Scotland is already illegal; bringing in a new law won’t make shooting a cat, a car, or – heaven forbid – a child, more illegal, it simply burdens law-abiding members of the fieldsports community while criminals will continue to operate outside the law. $ESPITE STRONG LOBBYING from SACS and others, ScotGov always intended to push this new legislation through in order to win votes from the ignorant, mainly urban electorate. Airgunning is a safe, accessible and inclusive sport, of which SACS is deeply supportive. The requirements of the new Act are too complex to describe in detail here, but we have provided extensive information in our latest two newsletters, on our &ACEBOOK PAGE AND VIA A firearms licensing podcast (online, on-demand radio show) that you can find here by clicking the link and choosing how you want to listen: http://www.thepacebrothers. com/#!podcast/c1vw1. Alternatively, you can always call the office on 01350 724228.

www.sacs.org.uk 31


Girls just want to have fun! The ladies are very much in evidence this clay shooting season with BASC promoting ladies shooting and a number of clubs holding ladies only and mixed shoots. This is especially true for Scottish Ladies Shooting Club (SLSC) who are on a roll with at least 2 events per month – a monthly shoot on the first Sunday of the month and organizing or attending other interesting events across the country. In July, a number of ladies took part in the ladies shoot at the Game Fair in Scone. Sharon Niven won with 3 members of SLSC hot on her heels - Gail Barclay, Caroline Madden & Lesley Fleming taking 2nd, 3rd and 4th places.

Gail Barclay - who shoots with SLSC - was selected for Scottish Shooting Team in both the Sporting and Down The Line disciplines, and was delighted to win Team Gold in the European DTL Championships in Ireland. Having been inspired by Captain Carrie Smith’s perfect 100/300 on the first day of competition, alongside consistent scores from Cath Fraser, Gail shot a personal best of 100/298 on the second day to take the team score to 1753, tying first place with England. After a tense shoot-off Scotland emerged as Gold Medal winners by 3 – 2. Carrie excelled herself by not only getting Bronze in the individual Ladies class, but also 2nd overall in B class.

Whilst not national team members, many members of SLSC have been making the most of the bi-weekly Friday night shoots at County Clays, Dunkeld where the programme alternates between Sporting and Compak at each evening shoot. There is a mix of ladies and gents, and depending on numbers, attendees are split into groups based on ability. It is a great way to improve your shooting and get used to more competitive environments in friendly & supportive company. For more information, call the County Clays team on 01350 728666.

Gail Barclay

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The SLSC ladies recently held their third Simulated Game Day at Hopetoun Clays under the expert management of Stewart Cumming and his team. If you have never taken part in a Sim Day, we urge you to do it as it is a blast ! Ten ladies came together on Sunday 24th July at Parkhead House B&B for bacon and sausage butties before starting our day with Hopetoun Clays. Apart from anything else, the breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea at Parkhead is a must! Breakfast over, Stewart explained the plan for the day and as we were 6 full guns and 4 half guns, we were split into 2


teams with one team loading for the other. Many of the ladies had never shot on a game day before, so this was a great opportunity to get a feel for how it works, should they decide to progress – with one little exception – poaching other people’s bird is allowed and actively encouraged !! The first drive was fairly straightforward to get our eye in and get us settled into the rhythm which was much appreciated. For the second drive, we moved around & below the hill to tackle high pheasant style clays. Stewart was great at shouting encouragement and where he saw that individuals were struggling with specific types of birds, he kept the others busy and gave direct coaching on that type of bird to those that required it. To ensure we got an authentic experience the heavens opened and we shot through the intense rain showers. Graham, Stewart’s colleague, soon realized that he would have

Take aim...fire!

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quite a job picking up all our spent cartridges as well! Given the weather forecast, the plan was to do a third drive and then break for a late lunch followed by a couple of shorter drives in the afternoon. The plan worked and everyone had a great time. At the end of the day the half guns agreed that they wanted to be full guns next time and that SLSC should try to organize a Sim Day every 3 months. If you’d like to arrange a Sim Day at Hopetoun Clays, with refreshments at Parkhead B&B, please call Hopetoun Clays on 0131 331 9940. Most of the SLSC events involve shooting clays, but with input from club co-founder, Cara Richardson, the club has held driven game days and is planning an introduction to game shooting day. Cara, a Sporting Agent to trade was recently successful in her election to BASC Council with a whopping 1227 votes. Cara has a wealth of

The ladies at Hopetoun House

experience in the Country Sports arena including being past secretary of Northern (Scotland) Deer Management Group and secretary and treasurer of a local

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gun club. As more and more women become interested in shooting, it is fantastic to have someone like Cara on BASC Council.

If you are interesting in shooting with Scottish Ladies Shooting Club, please get in touch and come along to one of our events listed below.

Upcoming Scottish Ladies Shooting Club events Autumn Simulated clay day – 18th September – Hopetoun Clays with Stewart Cumming - A simulated game day is a great way for improving / intermediate shots to develop instinctive shooting. Meet for tea/coffee and hot breakfast, shoot six drive of simulated game with a break for a light lunch and finish with afternoon tea. Price is £160 for full guns or £90 for half guns (cartridges are not included). Full guns will shoot two flushes and half guns will shoot one flush per drive. Sunday 2nd October 2016 - Gleneagles Shooting School - 12:00 Soup and sandwiches in Tryst Lodge - 13:00 commence shooting - £60 for 50 clays inc instruction. Sunday 6th November 2016 - County Clays, Dunkeld - 11:30 light lunch (£5) - 12:30 shooting - £40 for 50 clays inc instruction. Saturday 3rd December 2016 – Third Birthday Shoot at County Clays and dinner at Dunkeld House Hotel – 11:30 light lunch (£5) - 12:30 shooting - £40 for 50 clays inc instruction. Dinner is £39 per person inc a glass of Prosecco, 3 course choice menu with coffee and entertainment. Overnight accommodation and full Scottish breakfast at £79 per person. To find out more :www.scottishladiesshooting.co.uk www.facebook.com/scottishladiesshooting. Email : Lesley Fleming info@scottishladiesshooting.co.uk Telephone Lesley on 07971 547 826 Please check out our website for details of other opportunities for ladies shooting - http://www.scottishladiesshooting.co.uk/events.html


CLASSIC GUN

W&C Scott & Son Monte Carlo Model B circa 1893

By Ross Haygarth I was delighted when Shooting Scotland Magazine asked me to write a series of articles on the subject of Classic Sporting Guns. This is a subject that I have a good knowledge of and to start off with, I am featuring a W&C Scott & Son Live Pigeon gun from the Victorian era.

Live Pigeon shooting was the precursor to Clay Pigeon shooting & was a way of providing the Sportsman with a method of practice of Game bird shooting during the closed season. Pigeons were bred in Aviaries specifically for this purpose, tho’ when the glass ball & later the “Clay” pigeon were developed it lost popularity & was in fact banned in the UK in 1924. Live pigeon guns are often mistaken for Wildfowling guns, they typically weigh 7 - 7 1/2lbs & have 30” or 32” barrels & 2 3/4” chambers with lots of choke & a wide flat rib. The stock usually

has a semi or full pistol grip & later guns had an orange Silvers recoil pad. They were built on boxlock & sidelock actions, both as ejector & non-ejectors. The Scott gun featured here is a Monte Carlo Model B from 1893/4. It’s a full bar action sidelock non-ejector with intercepting scears & an auto safe. It has 30 1/4” Damascus steel barrels with a raised flat matted rib. It has 2 1/2” chambers & was originally proved for black powder cartridges. It weighs 7lbs 4ozs & the barrels weigh 3lbs 8ozs. It features Scott’s improvement on the famous

Greener crossbolt, which is square in section & has Scott’s patent forend catch & gas vents on the breech face. A very unusual feature of this gun is that it’s “reverse – choked” i.e. the right barrel has more choke than the left, a feature sometimes found on driven Grouse guns. This gun was submitted to nitro proof in 1986 & was fully restored at the same time. A typical feature of a live pigeon gun is having pigeons in flight engraved on the action or lockplates & this gun is no different. It is profusely engraved & it is very sharp & crisp despite it being over 120 years old! This

gun bears the address of 10 Great Castle Street, Regent Circus, London, as despite being a Birmingham maker, Scott’s had a London retail presence from 1872 until 1929. Live pigeon guns are nowadays very collectable & are often used for dedicated side – by – side clay shooting events & wildfowling. Due to the popularity of the Shooting Clubs around London, many of these guns bear London names & many were made by Holland & Holland, Purdey, Boss, Cogswell & Harrison, John Rigby, Charles Boswell & EJ Churchill.

Ross Haygarth is the owner of CH Haygarth & Sons, Gun & Rifle Makers, in Dunnet, Caithness. They are Scotlands oldest family owned Gunmakers. Ross is the son of Colin Haygarth the famous Gunmaker, Trap shooter, sportsman & conservationist. Ross is considered to be one of Scotland’s leading experts on British Guns & Rifles. 35


Fox control by thermal by Graeme Kelly

Hi readers. My name is Graeme Kelly and I’m a professional fox controller from Fife. Recently, I was lucky enough to be asked to write a small column for the new Shooting in Scotland magazine. As well as fox control, which is my passion, I also work for, and am sponsored by Night Master. For those of you who have not heard of Night Master, we supply compact high power hunting lamps (such as the legendary NM800m which revolutionised lamping), night vision and the latest thermal imaging equipment. 36

Tony Jones and I recently launched a new side to the business service called Night Master Scotland. This gives gamekeepers and pest controllers in Scotland the peace-of-mind to buy night vision and thermal imaging devices from us, with the knowledge that the equipment is setup and they know how to use it. Too many retailers leave their customers in the dark‌ literally. The service I personally provide is invaluable. I advise on the equipment, order the correct picatinny/ weaver rail

to suit the customer’s rifle, fit it correctly, mount the chosen night vision or thermal unit, then take the customer and their new setup to a local range and zero it in to their eye. Once the rifle is zeroed and they are happy, I supply a lesson on how to fully operate and understand the equipment. Five nights a week I am out foxing and using the latest in night vision and thermal imaging equipment. My current kit includes the new Pulsar Quantum XQ38S handheld thermal spotter, the Pulsar XD75 thermal weapon

scope and the N970 Digisight. I work between pheasant shoots and farms, and anyone else who may call when having bother with foxes. What I have found over the past 6 months is that estate owners and farmers seem to prefer the more covert approach to foxing, so as not to draw attention to the fact that someone is controlling pests on their land. Being covert also stops the undesirable poacher coming in behind you when you leave, after seeing your lamp shining around. The difference between the old conventional style


Fox control by thermal of lamping compared to the new ‘thermaling’ is that with a lamp you can miss a shot at a fox and educate it with the light, so the next time it sees the light the fox will be away like a scalded cat. That’s what we like to call ‘lamp shy’. If you miss a shot with the night vision or thermal imaging, the fox is none the wiser. In fact, in some cases you get a second shot because the fox has no clue where the shot came from. I’ve actually had them running towards me, which makes for an easier shot! During the lambing season I am busy on the farms and at this time of year busy on the estates, watching over the poults in the pheasant pens. For me, fox control can be placed into either one of two categories; (1) a ‘sport’ for many shooters who use lamps and (2) ‘pest control’ for the keeper who has

to eradicate foxes and uses the latest equipment to make the job easier. For example, last week I received a call from a keeper asking if I would help on his estate to eradicate a troublesome fox that was creating havoc at one of his pheasant pens. The fox was going every night at the same time and picking-off the poults that had not been inside the pen at night, which was working out at about 20 a night. The keeper had previously missed the fox when using a lamp, so then any time it saw the light it was off. The only way now for him is thermal imaging equipment, so the fox is nonethe-wiser and doesn’t know that I am there (depending on wind direction). With foxes being creatures of habit, it’s pretty much guaranteed that if you sit out an hour or so before

the last time it was spotted it’s sure to turn up again. The fox did turn-up on the estate and I shot it out at 220 yards, but only after the keeper had lost over 100 birds at roughly £5 each. So as I mentioned earlier,

the thermal equipment is definitely the tool for the job of the professional, whereas the lamp is more for the sporting shooter. As a shooter, you need to decide which category you fall in to.

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Sea Fishing on Loch Leven, Highlands by Linda Mellor One of the many benefits of going fishing in Scotland has to be the wonderful scenery. There are limitless locations to choose from with surroundings to make your heart swell. Fishing on Loch Leven in the Highlands has to be one of the most scenic spots, especially if you drive up the A82 through the haunting and beautiful Glencoe. The area is usually associated with walkers and hill climbers but it is a fishing haven for anglers. The villages of Glencoe, Ballachulish and Kinlochleven can be found around the loch. There is a wide selection of accommodation available and places to eat. If you like fresh fish a trip to the Loch Leven seafood café will not disappoint. It is situated 4.5 miles south of the Ballachulish Bridge on the northern shore of the loch. Their Cullen Skink is a must. Kevin Purvis, a local font of knowledge and fishing expert, from Tools & Tackle in Ballachulish said, “Loch Leven is a great spot for fishing. Typically, we catch small Pollock, Mackerel, Salmon, Sea Trout, Ling, Rock Cod, Codling, Thornback Rays and Dog Fish. We have had the odd report of young Monkfish and stories of Halibut. We do see a lot of people wanting to fish and during the summer months and we’re visited by tourists who buy our stock of Caledonia Flies to take back home with them.” We parked up by Ballachulish harbour and made our way to the water. Standing on the slate covered shoreline setting up the sea rods, we had a great opportunity to take in the view; behind us was the distinctive Pap of Glencoe with its steep, cone-shaped summit. On our right, Kevin pointed out a 38

Looking out over Loch Leven from Balachulish harbour

Neil looking right at Balachulish Hotel and Dragonstooth


Sea fishing on Loch Leven formed area of trees aptly called the mermaid’s tail on the hillside above the seafood café and Eilean Munde, the burial island for the McDonalds of Glencoe, with its ancient gravestones. He talked about local fishing spots and said the little church over to the left at St John’s Bay “was also a great spot for fishing”. The land and water have many stories to tell and are steeped in centuries of history. It was the hottest day of the year when Neil and I fished the loch with Kevin and we were all very thankful of a gentle breeze which kept the midges away. Casting the spinning rods out across the calm loch we felt hopeful of catching fish. The water was turning and on the way back in when Neil caught a young Pollock. Not long afterwards, Kevin caught something very big and fought for ages to bring it in but we didn’t get the opportunity to see what it was as his line snapped.

Neil fishing from RIBB, Pap of Glencoe in background

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Sea fishing on Loch Leven

40

Kevin with a large fish on the rod

All photographs by Linda Mellor

We moved around to the shore closer to the small harbour and fished opposite an area called the Mermaid’s Slide; a rounded area of rock sloping into the water. It was getting hotter but as we had seen plenty of fish activity we continued to fish for an hour or so. We watched the yachts and were entertained by Kevin’s local tales about the proliferation of Rowan trees in the area said to ward off evil spirits. Three tourists had hired rods and reels from Tools & Tackle and stopped to ask Kevin for advice on the best set up and where to fish. Early afternoon, Kevin had arranged a fishing trip out over the loch aboard the Seaxplorer RIB. We packed our gear away when the Seaxplorer returned to harbour and walked around to the hut by the Pontoon. We were fitted with lifejackets before we boarded the large RIB then we set off over the Loch with 2 fellow anglers, a father and son from Australia who had recently arrived in the area on holiday. Skipper Malcolm Jones took us out across the loch at speed and under the Ballachulish Bridge and told us a story about a local Witch who was buried near by the Ballachulish Hotel and had cursed any bridge building across the narrows between Loch Leven and Loch Linnhe. Malcolm said, “The bridge was built in 1975 and because the workmen were concerned about the 300-year-old curse they left one bolt out of the structure (you can see the missing bolt when you pass underneath in the boat) so it is, technically, unfinished, and as a result, not cursed.” We stopped just beyond the bridge and put three boat rods in the water. Within minutes Neil had 3 Mackerel on his first cast out and so did Kevin. The Australians caught fish and Kevin had to show them how to unhook them and put the smaller ones back and despatched the bigger ones. Malcolm steered the boat to a spot with a great view of the Dragon’s tooth, a tall jutting peak named after a dragon said to once inhabit the high Corrie. We drifted over an underwater cliff

Kevin with mackerel on mackerel

with a 100ft drop and once again everyone caught more fish. When we had arrived back ashore the Aussies asked Kevin how to clean and gut the fish they’d caught as they were keen to have fresh Mackerel for tea that evening. Neil said, “Having dived the areas a few years ago it was relaxing to stand on the shores of Loch Leven and enjoy the wonderful scenery of the Lochaber mountain range.

I was able to see the weather changing, the sea birds, sea trout jumping and the wildlife. I was fishing in an area of great history, it is a dramatic location at the bottom of Glencoe. It’s not overly populated by people and there’s life in the loch with a wide variety of fish. If you are up in the area you should definitely take your rods or sea fishing kit.” Sea angling in Scotland is free, with no permits or licence required

to fish around our wonderful coastline. If you need to buy or hire fishing tackle or require local fishing advice call into Tools & Tackle in Ballachulish, they are very well stocked with everything you’ll need. There’s a Co-op, a Café in the Tourist Information Centre, The Laroch bar and restaurant run by a Michelin Star Chef (booking advisable) and a fish chip shop all within yards of Tools & Tackle.


How to catch a Salmon

The Ghillie

By Robert White, River Tay Ghillie Prepare yourself first of all. Before you enter the river you should have checked your tackle whether spinning or fly fishing. Your reel should be set at a reasonable tension, which should not be too tight, or too free running so that your fish will be properly hooked when it takes. If spinning, never strike a fish under any circumstances, as it will drive it crazy and make playing it even more difficult. If you strike a fish while fly fishing you will probably lose it straight away. The hook will have been pulled out of its mouth. Let the salmon turn and run. The salmon takes you and you do not take the salmon if you understand what I mean. The appropriate breaking strain of your leader is important as well. When spinning your leader should be of a lesser strength than your main line so if you get snagged and have to break you will just lose your bait and not a great chunk of main line as well. The strength of cast may vary according to the time of year, clarity of water and size of river. Maybe 15 pounds in spring and autumn and down as low as 10 pounds in high summer. Before you enter a pool you should understand a bit about its geography so you can be prepared in the eventuality of hooking a fish. Are there any visible snags, overhanging trees? Where are the possible landing sites? If you are fly fishing it is extremely difficult to net a fish on your own so it is important to locate a good place to hopefully beach a fish. If you have a net locate it at an appropriate place to land a fish. It is easier to have the net set up rather than struggle to take it off your back and get it organised during the fight. Improving your chances of catching a fish as well is important. Everyone says catching one is down to luck but believe it or not you can increase your chances if you do the right things. Understanding the water and potential salmon lies is important and if there is a ghillie you should ask his or her advice. Fishing at the correct depth is also important. In low water you may have to work the bait if spinning to avoid being snagged. In summer with higher water temperatures spinning fast

can be effective. To give a salmon just a glimpse of a bait will make it chase and take well. Too slow and the fish will not respond. In early and late season fishing the correct weight of bait is important, as you want it to fish throughout the whole cast right into the bank. Choose the correct line if fly fishing. This may be the appropriate sinking rate according to the pool depth and flow in spring and autumn. In warmer conditions floating lines and the correct sinking tip is vital. There are so many variations nowadays and it can be difficult and confusing for less experienced anglers. Advice from the ghillie or an experienced friend again is important. Cast within your capabilities. Don’t try to overcast as all you will achieve is a tangle or your fly will not be fishing properly! It is better to cast a good short line than a long bad line to increase your chances. The luck then is covering a taking fish. Hooking the fish. The pull of a fish on the end of the line is ultimately what we are after so it is vitally important to do this bit correctly! If you have followed the first points the fish should hook itself as it pulls the line away. You do not strike! All you have to do is raise your rod to about 2 o’clock to make the fish start to fight the rod and your tension on the reel that sets the hook. You should not have your tension too tight at this stage and you should allow the fish to take line if it wants as you can always increase the tension if need be later especially if it is a big fish. When fly fishing people have various methods and beliefs over the years. When I first started fly fishing I was told to hold a loop and when the fish pulled you were to let the loop go but everytime I did that there was nothing at the end of the line when the loop went! Someone then told me to just let then pull against the tension of the reel and after that everyone was a coconut! I hold the line against my rod and when I feel a fish pull it let it go and raise the rod slowly and the fish is on. When salmon take they turn on the bait or fly so they will hook themselves straight away. You should notice with the fly especially that if you hook a fish on the fly on

the left bank the fish will have the hook on the right hand side of its mouth as it turns out into the river in the take and visa versa on the other bank. Playing the fish. Once you have hooked the fish you do not want to loose it. If the river is at a settled height it is normal that salmon take well and you should land far more than you loose. When the river is unsettled, however, then loosing fish can happen more often as they do not take as well. I have all ready mentioned that it is important to let the fish run and not have your tension too tight. Do not panic if the fish takes a long run because it will stop and you will be able to get it back. Salmon are fairly predictable normally unless you foul hook one. They will not run out a pool unless you let them. If you are near the tail of a pool you should find they might go deep into the tail but should stop 9 times out of 10 and come back. If you are near the tail of a pool you should try to go back up stream and take them away from there when possible. If a fish goes to the tail do not start following them as they will not stop and keep going and going. I have seen people do that countless times and they have landed fish with great stress several pools down the river! Do not allow the fish to settle, in other words keep them on the move so you tire them out. You play the fish they don’t play you! In the case of very big fish they can often play you for a while until they are under control and you are at their mercy due to their size. When a fish has stopped running you need to get it back by raising the rod further up then dropping it slowly and winding in the slack. Try to do this as smoothly as possible and not jerk the line and drive the fish mad as you will make

life more difficult for yourself. Early on in the fright you may find the fish will only come in a limited way then it will want to turn and run again. Be prepared for that as it can happen suddenly but do not be alarmed and let it run again before getting back and keeping it moving to tire it out. It is at this stage you may want to increase your tension if you feel the fish is taking line too easily and you are not making much headway. When fly fishing you can break runs by putting the palm of your hand on the reel rim and applying gentile pressure to increase tension. Stay out in the river until you have the fish well under control. I lower water if you come to the bank too early the line can get snagged especially if you have a lot of line out. Once the fish is on a shorter line then make your way to the bank. Landing the fish. Once the fish starts to tire it is nearly ready to land and you should now have the upper hand and be able to dictate to the fish what you want to do. If you are on your own then you should be taking the fish to the appropriate spot to land in a net or beach. Try not to do this too hastily as you will end up in trouble. If you are with someone such as a ghillie you need to present the fish to the net and not have the netter trying to fish for the salmon under the water. When netting a fish the netsman should be standing downstream of the angler by a few yards. Once the fish is tired you should be able to bring the fish to the surface so the net can be put under the fish and safely raised to secure it. If you are going to release the fish do not take it out the water and touch it as little as possible. Unhook it, take a picture if necessary in the net and release. Tight Lines! 41


ARTWORKS The power and colour of life in nature Featuring artist Clare Shaw Clare finds all of her inspiration literally on her doorstep. She does not have to travel far to encounter running, boxing and leaping hare, fighting pheasants, foraging deer, working dogs on a plethora of local shoots or her chickens scratching about in the dust. They are all within walking distance, some as close as outside her studio window! Clare loves to paint using water colour pencils and acrylic paint, and always aims to create the most vivid, captivating pieces that she can possibly do. People always question how she gets such energy in her paintings with just pencils but Clare believes this is down to really getting to know her subject and studying them intently until that exact colour is finally matched. She has been know to stalk Pheasants to get that perfect shimmering light. Over recent months Clare has become more and more well known in the hunting and shooting field, with her work gracing the walls of several commercial and privately owned shoots in their shoot rooms and private houses. Clare also works with interior designers allowing her work to be used in new developments and conversions to help create a country feel and relaxed atmosphere. Both of these areas she is incredibly passionate about and would like to develop further as they are perfect places for her clients to see her work. Clare loves a challenge and will always consider any

Perfect Drive

Fair Game

Great Escape

commission that you may like to see in your home or work place. Commissions are a really great way for her to show her unique

detail and commitment to the subject and she already has her paintings in many large country houses and estates. www.clareshaw.gallery 07943502756 Original, limited edition prints, commissions, shoot room statements, and pet portraits are all available on request.

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Fight of Flight


cooking with game

A summer Grouse Recipe The perfect formula for getting your grouse just right By Mike Robinson

Grouse must be cooked from fresh for best results - ie not smelly and well hung. Try to choose a young bird, they definitely cook better! Hold the Grouse between thumb and forefinger by the lower beak. If it breaks under the bird’s weight - its young. Serves 4 4 grouse, legs removed, crown removed 200mls vegetable oil 1 bulb garlic 2 sprigs rosemary

Sea salt and black pepper 50g butter 1 litre chicken stock, simmering Balsamic vinegar

Start 2 hrs before you wish to eat. Place the legs of the Grouse, trimmed, in a shallow dish with the oil, squashed bulb of garlic and rosemary. place in an oven at 100c for 2 hrs or until they are tender and will come away from the bone. This is called Confit. When done, place the legs on a trivet to drain. Wipe the inside of the crowns with kitchen paper to remove any blood. Add a big handful of Maldon salt to the stock, then poach the crowns for 6 minutes at a very low simmer. After poaching, wipe the crowns dry, then brown in a big heavy pan with a tablespoon of confit oil and the butter. Roast at 160c for 7 minutes. While the crowns are resting, brush the legs with balsamic, and grill for 2 minutes. Serve with all the trimmings - bread sauce, game chips, glazed parsnips and whisky!

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outdoor look Seeland Woodcock Shooting Clothing

New Richmond Men’s Sports Jacket

Seeland’s Woodock range of shooting clothing is perfect for the countryman, woman and child. Windproof, waterproof and breathable – the Seeland Woodcock jackets are ideal for those needing an allseason shooting jacket RRP £99.99-159.99 www.ardmoor.co.uk In pure wool with water repellent outer, this double back vent jacket has a ticket pocket and secure internal pocket, with contrasting lining to match over-check. Available in a range of sizes: 38” to 50” in Brook & Herb tweed options. RRP £249.99 www.alanpaine.co.uk

Men’s tweed jacket from Dubarry Looking equally impressive in a country or a city environment, Ballyfin features a GORE-TEX® Z-liner-a lightweight polyamide insert, which hangs between the outer fabric and the lining, to keep you warm and dry. Beautifully designed functional features abound, inside and out; there are fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets, zipped interior pockets, roomy bellow pockets. A robust two way zip and studs ensure a secure, yet versatile means of fastening. The ergonomic sleeve shape and triple action back ensure ease of movement. A generous amount of genuine leather trim enhances the luxurious feel and look of this quintessential men’s country style jacket. Available in Acorn. Dry clean only. Available in sizes S - 3XL RRP: £599 www.dubarry.com 44


outdoor look Hillman Gamewear 3D T-shirt

Using unique Photocamouflage® 3D clothing technology. “Real -like” details, this extremely breathable fabric transmits moisture away from the body and takes up to one-fifth of its weight in water before it starts feeling damp. The absorbed moisture is expelled at the surface of the fabric where it dries out quickly. This helps you to dry up even after severe physical activity. Because of the dual material technology this fabric is very durable and reliable. The tensile is really strong and this feature provides longer garment lifespan. This fabric is Hypoallergenic and is suitable for people susceptible to allergies. Designs: Roe Deer Buck, Red Stag and Running Wolf. Sizes: M - XXXL Price: £ 37.99 www.venatorpro.com

Something for the weekend? The shooting weekend is about hospitality as well as great sport, however we all know what the Scottish weather can be like on any one day! This range of Purdey clothes will keep you warm and dry, and at least that is a start! Velour sidesweep hat £825, Dry wax over cape £695, Waterproof Tweed fieldcoat £895, Fur felt foldaway hat £150, Waterproof wool jacket £695, Light weight shooting coat £765, Chunky knit sweater £275, Tweed shooting vest £395 and Lambswool sweater £145 www.purdey.com 46

Compton Men’s Shooting Waistcoat

With pure wool outer, soft suede should patches, this waistcoat is made for comfort while out on the shoot. Spacious gusseted pockets & secure internal pocket provide ample room for those little items, while the contrasting lining matched the over check. Available from S to 5XL Colours: Tweed Forest Green, Sage, Peat with lovat and landscape tweed options. RRP £139.00 www.alanpaine.co.uk


what’s new Windsock full shape high image pink footed geese A brand new lightweight high image detail goose decoy gives the perfect choice for decoying and bulking up your decoy pattern, each pack of 6 is available as 2 sentrys and 4 feeders These lightweight geese have been produced by us and are brand new and unique to our company. Based on our previous knowledge and experience of designing goose decoys, we have produced and developed this brand new windsock decoy. They are a full image detail full body shape decoys that reacts with the wind. The

decoy will move and pivot to the wind but also when the wind drops they still hold their full body shape by means of the body bar. They will stack quickly to allow easy transport and carry. The decoys are extremely lightweight and easy to carry. Each decoy only weighs approximately 200 grams, (compare carrying 40 plastics to the weight of ours). Each goose comes with a ground stake. 6 silhouette decoys are £34.95, for 6 windsock £39.95 and for 6 full body foamies £59.95.

We have greys, pinks and and only greys and Canada’s in Canada’s in all 3 types of decoys the silhouettes. For more information www.riversideoutdoor.co.uk/goose-decoys-27-c.asp

Polaris Rangers with revolutionary features

The revolutionary features of the Polaris Rangers set the standard for side by side utility vehicles, providing the off-road capabilities of the most seasoned ATVs. Take the robust and powerful Ranger Diesel and you now have Polaris Active Descent Control and automatic braking on all wheels for smooth, controlled hill descents, as well as Electronic Power Steering for a lighter, smoother drive. The Ranger Diesel Crew is ever-popular with gamekeepers and shooting grounds, offering a wholly capable go-anywhere sixseater 4x4. The Ranger 570 maintains the standard with nimble handling and the smooth, reliable power of the Polaris engine with its Electronic Fuel Injection and Engine Management System. Polaris has also been enhancing the Rangers with a wide range of new customising products and accessories from the Lock & Ride Pro-Fit cabs and cargo boxes to Chainsaw Mounts and Gun Mount Boots. For more information www.polaris-britain.com 48


No one understands agricultural sprayers better than TEAM! For over 35 years we have designed and built a range of sprayers to suit the demands of any farming environment From game cover strips to grassland paddocks TEAM have the answer

Demount LT 300L x 3M

ATV Advantage 75L x 2M

ATV Chariot 600L x 12M

Whichever way you look at it the 2016 Team range offers your best of choice for value and performance... TEAM works!


what’s new The Yildiz Wildflowler “Yildiz have identified a market for a 12g side by side steel proved gun suitable for wildfowling that caccommodate the latest 3 1/2” steel cartridges. The gun has a single selective trigger and is available in 28” or 30” barrel lengths in ejector or nonejector mechanisms. What more could a Wildfowler want?” RRP from £755.00 More information from www.entwistleguns.com

New CENS® ProFlex digital 1e

Puretone are proud to announce the new CENS® ProFlex digital 1e model is now available to order. The digital 1e gives customers the option of custom-made electronic hearing protection at a much lower price. As with the entire CENS® ProFlex range the digital 1e is supplied with a 2 year warranty and has WaterShield technology as standard. The digital 1e features a low battery warning and a single optimised shooting program. The integrated push-button operates a 4 step volume control for enhanced ambient awareness. RRP from £299.00 For more information on the CENS® range of hearing protection visit: www.censdigital.com

A cooling fan for your dog transporter

Keep your dog cool with this new Lintran fan – quiet, and simply plugs into your cigarette lighter, a ‘cool’ for your canine friend. Was shortlisted at the Shooting Industry Awards June 2016 RRP £65.00 More information from www.lintran.co.uk

New MULE SX range shows its PRO credentials Most compact in terms of their engine capacity and physical size, the 2017 model year MULE SX range join their Kawasaki Utility Vehicle stablemates with PRO series inspired updates for the new season. Offered in two-wheel and four-wheel drive versions, the MULE SX machines pack a considerable punch in terms of carrying and towing capacity while enjoying diminutive dimensions that mean they can be transported in the back of many flat-bed vehicles and full-size pick-up trucks. 50

Just 1335mm wide and with an overall length of 2710mm, these sturdy work partners enjoy a 181kg cargo capacity in their tipping load beds while a generous 500kg towing capacity is available for those that need to move mountains in rugged, durable style. It is expected the new machines will be available in the UK in September Guide pricing for the MULE SX 2WD is £6049 + VAT and the 4x4 version is expected to be £6749 + VAT. For more information www.kawasaki.co.uk


Profile for Athole Design & Publishing Ltd

Shooting Scotland Magazine (September - October 2016)  

Shooting Scotland Magazine (September - October 2016)  

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