25 Nov another red stag stalking season COMES to a close
October 20th brought another red stag stalking season to a close.
Our red stag stalking season was able to go ahead, clients arrived in ‘bubbles’ so they could rent accommodation together.
Our red stag stalking is immensely popular, we have clients who have stalked with us for 20 years and being able to welcome them to The Gearach again this year was particularly special.
Clients who are now friends enjoyed their time here, The Gearach Forest holds a certain magic all its own… and only by coming here can you appreciate what I mean.
Listening to the sound of the Red Stags roaring around our home is blood chilling… sometimes they are SO close, sometimes way off in the forestry, their roars are almost prehistoric. Watching them from one of our many deer hides is an amazing spectacle and we never tire of watching them getting themselves ‘ready for their ladies’ by rolling about in their deer wallow and listening to them roar.
We have noticed that the covid lockdown seems to have had a tremendous benefit to the wildlife in The Gearach forestry. The overall disturbance to The Gearach forest is minimal every year as we purposely leave the vast majority of it undisturbed to allow the wildlife to live in The Gearach forest in peace. Since the start of lockdown in March we have noticed that the red deer have changed their pattern of behavior. There are more red hinds in the forestry and this stag stalking season the stags were holding more hinds in each of their groups than we have ever noted over the last 20 years.
Our theory is that since March no tourists were allowed on Islay or Jura so we think that the red deer population on the Rhinns of Islay and surrounding areas had little to disturb them, no tourists so not so much disturbance.
So why did the red hinds stay in the forestry? We think it is because they were not being disturbed when they did ‘pop’ out of the forestry to the surrounding land. The tourists, hikers, dogs, ramblers & wildlife watchers who come to Islay to see the abundance of rare birds, seals and other wildlife this includes the red and roe deer but this year as the deer haven’t been disturbed by visiting humans, they haven’t had to ‘flee’ from the Islay tourists and haven’t been ‘pushed away’ from the security of our forestry.
As the deer treat The Gearach Forest as a 5 star hotel, we ensure that our forestry management program is tailor made to suit them, it has everything that a red deer or roe deer could wish for, excellent cover, shelter, food and a safe nursery for the calves and fawns. It seems to us that they have stayed closer to the edges of the forest and only moved in it and closely around it all summer.
The red and roe deer are certainly enjoying grazing on our paddocks every night, they are irresistible! A healthy meal for them to eat as and when they fancy. The paddocks are for Mollie our horse and two rescue donkeys Melvin and George. At the start of Spring and late summer we treat all our paddocks to a good covering of lime & fertilizer. This sweetens the grass and gets it to ‘jump’ in the Spring and helps it to keep growing as the autumn approaches. The lime dressing is used to neutralize the acid in the peaty soil. This peat, is of course, great for making the distinctive notes & flavors in Islay’s famous whisky’s but not so good for growing grass for grazing animals.