A view to a kill

24th February 2015

Ross, one of the SNH stalkers, in the scrub birch retrieving a kill.

Ross, one of the SNH stalkers, in the scrub birch retrieving the kill.

We were fortunate to get a lift in the Argocat from the SNH stalkers who were out shooting in Coire Chrannaig. There’s a lot of deep snow around so I was delighted to accept the offer! Ross managed to bag one in the scrub birch as we made our way in. It really is impressive watching someone with proper skill and judgement carrying out their work. Ross had warned me that he may stop the Argocat at any time to shoot a beast. He was constantly scanning the scrub birch in search of deer….

Ross: ‘Did you see that group of 3 about 100m in the woods away on the left?’  Me: ‘Er, no…where??’

I just couldn’t see them as fast. By the time I’d spotted them, Ross was out of the Argocat and shouldering his rifle for a single successful shot. Ross either has a very well trained eye, or a spooky stalker’s sixth sense. Maybe both? Either way, I was mightily impressed.

The beasts are not in great ‘condition’ at the moment and quite lightweight. The persistent snowy weather for the past couple of months has take its toll on their body weight with the deer today weighing in at a modest 40 to 60kgs (larder-weight).

After the gralloch the beast get loaded into the Argocat.  Dutch volunteer on placement at SNH  Creag Meagaidh assists.

After the gralloch the beast gets loaded into the Argocat. A Dutch volunteer on placement at SNH Creag Meagaidh assists.

Doing the rounds. Collecting beasts shot earlier this morning.

Doing the rounds. Collecting beasts shot earlier this morning.

Got involved in a bit of dragging at this point. Between us we retrieved 3 beasts from about 75m away – mercifully only having to drag them downhill and over deep snow, so no big deal compared to my last experience of this strenuous activity.

Argocat drops me at the treeline at approx 500m.

Argocat departs after dropping us at the tree-line at approx 500m.

Our reward for helping out with the dragging was a lift to the tree-line. The Argocat really struggled in the deep snow at this altitude and would have got little further.

Deep snow at 500m. Tracks quickly drifted over. Brief periods of sunshine.

Deep snow at 500m. Tracks drifted over quickly. Brief periods of sunshine.

Coire Chrannaig side of Na Cnapanan. Skyline is at 600m.  There's a lot of snow!

Coire Chrannaig side of Na Cnapanan. Skyline is at 600m. There’s a lot of deep snow!

Big build up of windslab above 600m & cornices too at this altitude, though not visible in the shot above. Coire Chrannaig is quite a good snow collecting bowl and the cover here is more or less continuous from 400m to summit level. Access, even on skis, is difficult and tiring because of the amount of snow. Scouring present on windward slopes too, of course.

Noticeable warmth in the sun when it did appear between showers.

Noticeable warmth in the sun when it did appear between showers.

Comments on this post

  • Grant Duff
    25th February 2015 5:47 pm

    Plenty of snow still and looking forward some adventures in the area this weekend. Your avalanche reports will prove essential.

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