April was a month of highs and lows. I went heather burning for the first time (…an experience all of its own). I dragged my brother out to the hill to survey aspens and badgers; and I attended the University of the Highlands and Islands Integrated Land Use Conference. The major high point for me was harvesting my first roe buck… I had shot my fair share of red deer, but taking my first roe for the larder, accompanied by good friends, was a satisfying feeling. Whilst red is a staple, and sika is delicious, I think roe is a highly underrated meat…the saddle in particular is superb.
May saw continued roe buck culling, but the main event was attending the British Deer Society AGM, in Wales. If you’re not already a member, and are interested in deer, their health, stalking, or management, then I recommend joining the society.
The AGM provided a really interesting couple of days – an enjoyable aspect of which, for me, was meeting a couple of women who worked as Forestry Commission wildlife rangers. It can be quite isolating, being one of the few women in the UK who does my job full time, especially living in the Highlands, and it was really wonderful to meet a couple of others and find we had been faced with the same issues in our careers – from struggling to find decent hunting clothing, to the opinions of surrounding society on our work and why we do it.
June passed by without much incident. I spent most of my time running camera traps, surveying nesting bird species, and helping out vaccinating lambs on a neighbouring farm. I also attended a peatland restoration day, run by Forestry Commission Scotland, which was really interesting and ties into work we’re already doing on the estate. My favourite moment was coming across this deer calf on the hill. A real joy!