| RED DEER STALKING ON THE
SCOTTISH HEBRIDEAN ISLAND OF RUM
(see article in 'Irish Country Sports and Country Life' Spring 2004)
Welcome to the wild and spectacular Island of Rum. Come and
stalk the island's magnificent red deer in scenery unmatched anywhere,
with experienced guides and using traditional highland ponies.
Bookings are now being taken for the 2004 season and prospective
clients are urged to book early for the deerstalking experience
of a lifetime. Please refer to the terms and conditions following
the general information.
The Isle of Rum, in the parish of the Small Isles, lies roughly
15 miles off the west coast of Scotland, directly to the south of
the Isle of Skye and was for much of it's recorded history the hunting
preserve of the Lords of the Isles. Stone dykes, forming deer traps
high in the hills can still be seen, dating from these wild times
when the deer were hunted in the ancient 'tainchel', whereby large
numbers of beaters drove the deer to the aristocratic hunters armed
with bows and cold steel and backed up by great hounds. These days
are long gone and the red deer on Rum are now professionally managed,
as elsewhere in the Scottish highlands, using methods more humane
and less wasteful in manpower; as well as less exclusive.
In 1957 the island was bought from the last private owners for a
nominal sum to become a publicly owned nature reserve, managed by
the Nature Conservancy Council and since then much pioneering work
on tree planting and research, particularly on red deer behaviour
and management has been carried out and is still ongoing. Latterly,
moving with the times, the island's current trustees, Scottish Natural
Heritage (SNH) have been obliged to think more broadly about the
island's future, in line with the overall move towards Land Reform
in Scotland. This has led to the pursuit of a more diverse and economically
independent community on the island and to this end the Rum Deer
Management Association was set up to carry out the deer culls in
a way which would increase the value of the red deer herd as a resource
- namely by bringing in paying guests. A pilot scheme whereby 6
stags were to be shot by paying guests, guided by the local stalker
and ghillies, independent of SNH was carried out in the 2003 stag
season and proved to be a success; it is hoped that this independent
initiative will be allowed to grow in the future.
The island's red deer had long been wiped out to make way for cattle
by the time the island was cleared of it's human population in the
early 19th century for a sheepwalk, as was the case in much of the
highlands and islands. Successive private owners, beginning with
the Marquis of Salisbury, reintroduced red deer from the mainland
and along with the introduction of various park stags, this has
produced the deer herd on the island today. Rum's proven genetically
pure red deer means that the island is acknowledged as an important
red deer 'refugia', given the spread of Japanese Sika deer and their
hybridisation on the mainland. As with most highland deer on open
hill ground, those on Rum are considered small, though a 200lb stag
seems quite big enough when being loaded on to a pony! Deer born
and bred in the island's woodlands are considerably bigger than
the hill deer. The judicious introduction of park blood by the island's
19th century private owners has resulted in very good heads, in
comparison with many highland estates. Twelve-pointers (royals)
and above are quite plentiful, making very good trophies, while
a 'switch' head, that is a set of antlers with few or no branching
points, so common on the mainland, is very rare indeed.
Head of stag shot by
Dave Mc Cullough
Kinloch Castle was built by Sir George Bullough in the Edwardian
era as a grandiose shooting lodge, and its very short heyday was
in the years preceding the First World War. The building is now
run by SNH as a combination museum and hostel and accommodation
is available in a range of rooms, either catered or self-catering.
Kinloch Castle recently featured in the BBC's 'Restoration' programme
and funding is currently being sought by SNH to safeguard the building.
As well as stalking we can offer guided fishing for hill loch brown
trout, with sea trout on the coast. Guided walks, photographic stalking
etc. can all be catered for.
Stags taken off the hill in the traditional fashion
Rum Deer Management Association back in business
The RDMA is pleased to announce that it is back in business on the Scottish island of Rum. After five successful
years of operation under a pilot private stalking enterprise accommodated by Scottish Natural Heritage from 2003 -
2008 it lost out last season to an off island bid for the deer culling concession. The RDMA has this year won back
that concession in open competition and is quickly rebuilding it's customer base once more.
The RDMA is geared towards the creation of employment and income generation for the islanders and aims to capitalise
on the rum deer heard as a sustainable economic resource. It will achieve this in partnership with SNH so that the
deer herd is managed in balance with the internationally important habitats on Rum.
All carcase retrieval is by traditional and unique rum ponies which is the only practical option in Rums mountainous
Bookings have opened, Stags and special 5 day hind stalking packages are still available. Visit the RDMA website for