The week races by, we are either on the hill, or drying out in the cottage. The last couple of days we all spend together further up the glen, where we are stalking in twenty minute sessions from the mobile bothy that is the Landrover. Drive a bit, stalk a bit. Drive a bit, stalk a bit. As if climatic conditions weren’t harsh enough at the start of the week. This end of the week we're on the really exposed hilltop, the snow may have mostly melted but the wind is super fierce. The insulating effect of the cloud cover is a distant memory. It feels a lot colder. Even the ghillie is wearing a smock. We mooch around the high top of the estate, taking shelter and glassing from behind the low curved walls of the Grouse butts, the deer have thought better of it but the Hare are Scotland’s famous Mountain Hare and bound about launching grouse into the air as they go. We see a couple of Fox dens, from the number of Grouse and Hare it looks as though Monsieur Reynard has abandoned them. During one of our shorter stalks from the Landy, which usually involve the Ghillie getting into position, one of us trying to join him in time to take a shot only to watch the deer bound away. We find ourselves hiding behind a rather improbable wall. Its not three feet high and runs all the way up and over a windswept hill, and down the other side for no discernible reason. I ask the ghillie why anyone would build a wall there?
The Ghillie: "Sheep like ‘em", he looks into the middle distance for a moment and adds, "wall bulldin’ and fecking, there’s not a lot else to do"
As the Landy rattles up the glen crunching the pebble and ice road beneath its tires I'm in the front, to my left sitting motionless on the steep wall of the hill is a Hind. Yours Truly: "Look there’s a deer there!" The Ghillie: Oh aye. Is that right. Casting a sideways glance he can see how close it really is, about 50 meters. The Ghillie: You’ve not shot it yet? The hind is sitting on the hillside staring at us, I poke the rifle out of the window and chamber a round. The Ghillie: "Wind the feckin’ window up then you’ll have a rest." Still the deer doesn't move, 'Feckin'' window wound, I give her a round, still she sits and stares at us. I give her another one. The Ghillie: Why’d do that? She's deed. The Hind in question is the easiest retrieve we done all week, right up until I'm standing on top of her I can't work out why she didn't get up and bound off into the gloaming. At first sight I assume her injury is a broken leg from a fall, the Ghillie says the bone has been severed by a round. From the black edges of the wound it looks like she's been hobbling about on it for a few days, the intact part of the leg is swelling but not yet gangrenous. While the Ghillie gralloch’s it suddenly occurs to me, it's almost exactly nine years and eleven months to the day that I had shot that first deer, which had also had its leg shot off. But I’ll tell you more about that in another post. For one brief unguarded second the ghillie seems almost pleased that we've knocked in an easy one.
The Ghillie: Well done fer spottin’ her
Little Tim: Don't say that we've got to drive back down south with him [adopts whiney tone] “Did you see that? The Ghillie said I was the best when I spotted that deer"
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