A call from a keeper friend on the west coast alerted me to the dangers of working with dangerous equipment in isolated places. This is something that most keepers are aware of and most of us take precautions to limit the risk to ourselves and other people but one can never allow for every eventuality.
Donny had been cutting a limb from a beach tree when it had come back and hit him in the chest breaking his ribs and arm. The helicopter was on another call so he had to be extracted from the wood by paramedics in a Landrover and ended up in hospital for 6 days.
But the reason I am writing of this incident in my blog is because I wanted to make everyone aware of how much everybody has helped Donny. Everybody that knows him has rallied round and come to his aid.
This reflects the stamp of the man but is also a true indication of what the shooting community is like in times of hardship and stress. So we wish you a quick recovery Donny and thanks to those who were there to help.
This week I have been on my annual sojourn up north shooting hinds- a task which, to me, is very pleasurable, especially if the weather is dry. Now hind shooting is not for the unfit or faint hearted amongst you. It takes months of dedicated hard work crawling through peat hags and drains.
Now when was the last time you crawled on all fours anywhere apart from the times, perhaps, you have had a couple too many? These hill stalkers have my utmost respect and admiration.
These men are carrying out their jobs in such strenuous conditions that it is only an elite number of them that can survive and work in the harsh highland climate. These men have a wealth of wildlife knowledge. They bring a balance to these glens that has been learned from generation to generation. They are entirely responsible for the wild land that everyone is jealous of in other countries and that attracts visitors from all over the world.
We create that balance in nature that provides, for example, food for the golden eagle that has never been in such large number as recently. By leaving the gralloch on the hill, in areas not used by the public, eagles are given welcome sustenance. All down to the management of keepers.
I started thinking of the question, whilst I was working hard stalking the hinds: what’s the difference between us and organisations such as the John Muir Trust? The reason that this organisation, and some others, I believe, see deer as such a menace as opposed to a resource is the fact that the deer need to be managed at sustainable numbers. I don’t wonder if part of the problem is a reticence to leave the centrally heated office to get out onto the hill and get the hands dirty?
I’m sure that John Muir himself would turn in his grave if he could see some of the wildlife management that is being implemented in Scotland today as regards deer, particularly unfenced forest regeneration. This idea that trees can be regenerated in areas where red deer exist, without the use of fencing, should be shot down in flames.
It is a national disgrace that these deer are being killed and, in some previous cases, have been left on the hill to decompose and rot. What a wonderful sight for a hill walking family to see whilst out enjoying the views. Next year will be the year of Natural Scotland and one of the species which has been chosen to symbolize the Year is the wild red deer. Let’s hope there are some left!