There are various issues when it comes to deer. The fundamental conflict is between those who are managing estates and deer herds for conservation reasons, and those who do so for sporting reasons. Shooting weekends and all that. The latter want to keep up the number of deer so that they can maximize the number of people coming to shoot, which includes feeding them in winter to keep the wild herds thriving because there isnít enough forage in the hills. At the same time, just a few miles away, an estate manager is minimizing the number of deer for conservation reasons, to let the natural habitats come through which support other wildlife. It will take some time and reeducation to show the sporting tourism sector, which is very important to Scottish tourism, that it is possible to gain a happy natural balance, and reach mutual agreements when it comes to deer management plans. But at the moment, successful cooperation on this front is rare and there are no statutory requirements to produce sustainable deer management plans at present.
One way of showing that natural management procedures work best is by allowing other forms of tourism to thrive. For example shooting with cameras instead and diversifying into other forms of tourism, such as photography and wildlife watching. If hunting tourism is your thing, you need to enquire about their conservation policies as some do so purely for conservation reasons, such as the Glenfeshie and Corrour Estates, but they are few and far between. But awareness is growing, slowly but surely.
Another vital issue for tourists who keep their shooting to that of a photographic nature, is to take all the necessary precautions on the hills during stalking season, from 1st July to 20th October, with a hind season until 15 February. The Heading for the Scottish Hills
website is invaluable for keeping you up to date on what the various estates are doing and when with detailed maps and regularly updated information. This is a time when cooperation between hikers and stalkers is vital. Land managers will give all the information you require, but often at short notice, so always inform yourself before walking during this period. And stick to three other rules: read and adhere to any warning signs to follow a different path; do not cross land where stalking is taking place and avoid wild camping where stalking is planned for the next day.