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Scott an Sionnach let’s us in on a little Gàidhlig

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I’d just like it to be known… this is just my observation and not a slight towards contractors or lease holders in any way.

As I sit here looking out to the hill beyond my house, whilst also flicking through Facebook posts of those who enjoyed the Red deer rut and those getting geared up for the forthcoming hind season, I feel compelled to reflect on the many years I have spent managing deer on open hill and woodland areas.

Deer have played a huge part in my life, and my role as a Gamekeeper Stalker has not only enriched my life, it has also played a significant part in my families upbringing. It has also brought me lifelong friendships from those that share a common interest in deer on the open range.

Just now there is much negativity surrounding upland deer, discussions of numbers, habitat degradation and who should be in charge of managing them etc.

Deer seem to be the the “default” response to any failing habitat restoration project. With these cries of “deer damage” from certain conservation groups government bodies respond, usually negatively, Legislation is created and passed and we are then back to further reducing deer numbers.

In my relatively short time as a Gamekeeper Stalker, (25 years), I have seen much change in the attitude towards upland deer and the way we manage them. With this in mind I fear for the future of our “traditional” style of hill management and those people who are employed in the private sector. Much land in Scotland is now owned by conservation charities who’s remit is to take the land back to a “preglacial” state where trees are the overriding priority. Those hill stalkers that once were employed within those same hills are replaced by contract deer managers from afar.

This for me is the point in which Scotland (the Highlands & Islands in particular) loses some of it’s cultural history and identity, after all, it was within the Highlands that much of the sport we enjoy today was created.

It gave us terms such a “grealach. the act of removing the green offal”,often spelt incorrectly as gralloch. “Gearran. the Highland pony” now know as a Garron. The humble Ghillie was a man/boy servant, but we now refer to each and every hill stalking guide as the Ghillie.
All these Gàidhlig words have become synonymous with deer stalking in particular all over Britain and not just used in there native land.

If this negative trend continues we will not only lose the iconic monarch of the Glen… we are at risk of losing the very characters and their culture that make this landscape so iconic in the first place.

After all, who will regale tales, whilst sipping a dram, of the contractor who came from the south to shoot deer on the lamp at night in the north?