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Your Scottish Country Sports Adventure

by Linda Mellor

Scotland has a rich hunting heritage and is one of the most sought after sporting destinations, attracting hunters, shooters and anglers from around the world looking for a Scottish sporting adventure. The dramatic glens, ancient forests, flowing rivers and lochs are the habitats for a vast range of species, and the setting for some of the most spectacular sport to challenge the boldest of hunters.  The country is relatively small; it is only 274 miles from North to South and makes shooting and stalking very accessible. With more than 30,000 freshwater lochs and 6,600 river systems, anglers have a vast choice.

Each county is richly woven with centuries-old history, and many of the landscapes are strewn with castles and ancient ruins. The sporting traditions such as blessing the river with a whisky filled quaich, dragging red deer down from the hill with a garron or acknowledging the ‘Glorious Twelfth’, are all unmistakably Scottish and recognised the world over.

Hunting lodges have been part of the Scottish landscape for centuries, one of the oldest dates back to 1107 when royal hunting parties hunted wild cat, wolves, deer, wild boar and bears. Wealthy Edwardians and Victorians made Scotland their sporting playground. Many of those who flocked to Scotland were influenced by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who bought Balmoral Castle and embraced the shooting, deer stalking and fishing.

Today, country sports tourism boosts the Scottish economy by £155m and is expected to reach £185 million by 2020. There is an estimated 4,400 working full time in the industry; 2,600 employed in shooting and stalking and 1,800 engaged in fishing.

Scotland gives sporting men and women a choice.  Stalk and shoot an iconic red stag, or fish the scenic rivers and lochs to hook a gleaming silvery salmon or feisty wild brown trout. Shoot game birds on driven, walked up or rough days or go wildfowling. Scotland has an abundant choice of wild ducks, geese and waders as thousands of Waterfowl overwinter in Scotland each year. Test your shooting skills to the limit with rocket-propelled grouse driven over butts or walk the purple heather-clad moors to shoot grouse over pointers. Perhaps the most physically demanding of game birds to shoot is the Ptarmigan, a member of the grouse family. To shoot this bird, you will first have to clamber up to the top of the mountains as it is only found in the arctic-alpine habitats of the Highlands.

Barbara MacDonald, Manager of Letterewe Estate, said: "The Scottish Highlands are home to the red deer living in their natural habitat among the wild, rugged hills and mountains. Red deer are the largest wild deer in the UK and one of our native species. Deer stalking in Scotland has centuries of history and tradition behind it. The Letterewe Estate is renowned as one of the few remaining undisturbed habitats for some of Europe's rarest species of birds and animals. It stretches over some 17,500 hectares of majestic mountains and beautiful lochs and is uninterrupted by any surfaced roads or modern developments. It is home to the golden eagle, sea eagle, the pine marten, otters, northern divers, 2,000 red deer and numerous wild goats."

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