Deer stalking is essential for the sustainable management of deer populations and the natural heritage. Regular culling of deer ensures that there is sufficient grazing for the herd and other animals, and that fragile upland habitats are not damaged. The cull is managed in each area by the local Deer Management Group.
Stalkers use their knowledge of deer movements and the weather forecast to plan where they will be stalking. Changes in weather conditions, particularly wind direction, on the day can affect their plans, just as they can do for hillwalkers. Longer-range forecasts are easier to make when the weather is settled.
Groups of deer stalkers ('stalking parties') may stalk in different areas of an estate, known as 'beats'. More than one stalking party may be active in an area on a particular date. The deer are shot humanely with high velocity rifles.
The red stag stalking season is from 1 July to 20 October. The dates that estates start stalking varies. September and October are particularly busy months, when stalking is often taking place six days a week. Hinds are culled from 21 October to 15 February, with most activity before Christmas.
Roe stalking can also take place on forested estates. The roe buck stalking season is from 1 April to 20 October, with June to August being the most important months, and the doe stalking season is from 21 October to 31 March.
Deer stalking does not usually take place on Sundays.
Further information on deer management
Further information is available from Scottish Natural Heritage, the Association of Deer Management Groups, and The British Association for Shooting & Conservation.